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What Is Bodily Injury Liability Insurance, And What Does It Typically Cover?

Updated: November 2017

Bodily injury liability is a type of car insurance coverage that's required by law in most states. If you cause a car accident that injures another person, bodily injury liability coverage helps pay for their medical expenses and lost income as a result of their injuries. This coverage also helps pay for your legal fees if you're sued over the accident.

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What Does Bodily Injury Liability Cover?

If you are at fault for an accident that injures someone else, bodily injury liability coverage may help pay for the following costs:

Medical expenses. In addition to helping pay for someone else's emergency services and hospital care, bodily injury liability insurance helps pay for their necessary follow-up doctor visits and other associated costs, like having to buy crutches or a wheelchair while someone recovers.

Lost income compensation. Say you hit another car, and the driver is seriously injured to the point of having to undergo months of physical therapy. Depending on the type of work that person does, they may not be able to perform the normal functions of their job and might therefore suffer a loss of income as a result of not being able to work. Your bodily injury liability coverage may help to pay compensation in this case.

Legal fees. After an accident resulting in injuries, you may be taken to court by either the injured party or the injured party's insurance company. This may require you to seek legal counsel, which can be costly. Bodily injury liability coverage may help with your legal fees.

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Who Does Bodily Injury Liability Cover?

Bodily injury liability coverage may apply if you cause a car accident that injures another driver, a pedestrian or an unrelated passenger in your car.

Bodily injury liability coverage does not pay for your medical expenses or lost income if you cause a car accident. It may help pay for your legal expenses if you're taken to court over the accident.

Bodily Injury Liability Coverage Limits

Bodily injury liability and property damage liability each have a coverage limit. The limit is the maximum amount your car insurance policy will pay for a covered claim.

State laws dictate minimum liability coverage limits that drivers must purchase when they buy car insurance. However, you may be able to buy more coverage by increasing your liability limits.

Bodily injury liability coverage generally has two coverage limits: a per-person limit and a per-accident limit.

The per-person limit applies to each person injured in an accident. For example, say your per-person limit is $50,000. That means if you injure one person in a car accident, the most your bodily injury liability would pay for all of their expenses is $50,000.

The per-accident limit applies to each accident in which multiple people are injured. Suppose your per-accident limit is $100,000. That means if you cause a car accident that injures three people, the most your bodily injury liability would pay for their combined expenses is $100,000 (up to the per-person limit for each person injured).

Keep in mind that if you injure someone and their medical expenses exceed your bodily injury liability coverage limits, you may have to pay out of pocket to cover the costs. That's why it's important to consider bodily injury liability coverage limits that are higher than what your state requires.

How is Bodily Injury Liability Coverage Different From Property Damage Liability Coverage?

Liability coverage has two components: Bodily injury liability and property damage liability. Both are required by law in most states.

Property damage liability coverage helps pay for damage you cause to another person's belongings. For example, if you hit someone else's car, mailbox or front porch with your car, property damage liability coverage may help pay to repair their property.

Bodily injury liability coverage helps pay for another person's expenses if you injure them in a car accident. For example, this type of coverage typically helps cover someone else's bills related to physical injury or pain and suffering.

Need help understanding your state's bodily injury liability coverage limits? Talk to a local agent, who can help you choose the limits that fit your needs.

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This content is for informational purposes only and may not be applicable to all situations.

Coverage subject to terms, conditions, and availability. Policy issuance is subject to qualifications. Allstate Insurance Company, Allstate Indemnity Company, Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Northbrook, IL. © 2018 Allstate Insurance Company, Northbrook, IL.
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