UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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If you’ve purchased auto insurance or even researched the different policies available, you’ve likely seen that bodily injury liability insurance (BIL) is a part of most auto insurance packages.
Bodily injury liability coverage is a critical part of every auto insurance policy. It’s also legally required in most states. Let’s take a look at this piece of the auto insurance puzzle and decipher what it is and how it works.
What Bodily Injury Liability Coverage Is
Bodily injury liability insurance is the insurance coverage you purchase to cover any injuries that you cause to other individuals in a car accident. BIL extends to the drivers and passengers of other vehicles, and to any pedestrians that are involved in the accident as well.
Bodily injury liability coverage is typically sold with two different liability amounts attached, looking something like “$25,000 / $50,000”.
The first number ($25,000, in this example) represents how much coverage you have per person, per accident. If you cause an accident with another car that has three passengers, the limit of coverage you have for each person’s injuries would be $25,000. If, for instance, the driver suffered serious injuries and the cost for treatment was $40,000, your insurance would only pay for the first $25,000 – leaving you to pay for the remainder.
The second amount ($50,000, in our example) represents how much coverage you have for all parties in a single accident. Using the above three passenger accident, if each passenger had $20,000 in medical treatment costs, your insurance would only cover the first $50,000 of this. Since the medical bills total $60,000, you would be on the hook for the remaining $10,000.
Most states in the country require at least some form of bodily injury liability insurance coverage, with the minimum amounts typically ranging from $15,000/$30,000 up to $50,000/$100,000. Currently, the most common BIL limit is $25,000, as you can see in the chart below.
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage Requirements By State
|District of Columbia||25,000/50,000||North Dakota||25,000/50,000|
What Bodily Injury Liability Insurance Pays For
Bodily injury liability insurance covers items like medical treatment costs, rehabilitation costs, hospital bills, pain and suffering payouts, and any lost wages that the injured parties suffer. It doesn’t cover anything to do with automobile damage or any other property damage. And most importantly, it doesn’t extend to anyone in your car. Bodily injury liability coverage is strictly for injuries to the other party when you cause an accident.
An additional thing to note is that bodily injury liability coverage can also pay for your legal bills. In our litigious society, legal costs can be massive. If you are sued by the other party following an accident, BIL will pay for your legal defense.
How Much Bodily Injury Liability Coverage Do You Need?
There’s no question that you absolutely need bodily injury liability insurance, which is why it’s legally required in most states. Should you end up being sued by the other party in the accident, without BIL, you could end up being on the hook for a massive settlement that would need to be paid out of pocket. There have been instances of judgments in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, requiring the defendant to lose their home, liquidate their assets, and face bankruptcy (all because they didn’t have enough coverage).
The answer to “how much coverage do I need?” is a bit of a complicated one. As mentioned above, every state will have a different set of minimum amounts of coverage for BIL. While you’re free to go with the minimum – it really is best to get as much as you can afford. The medical treatment and rehabilitation bills resulting from a serious automobile accident can be staggering. An individual who purchased only the required minimum amount of $15,000 or $20,000 can end up being responsible for much, much more – and will have to end up paying out of pocket.
Because of the high medical and legal bills that can result from an accident, we recommend all drivers carry $100,000/$300,000 in bodily injury liability coverage.
By carrying more than your state’s legal requirements, you can drive with the peace of mind knowing that if you are ever involved in an accident, you’ll be covered.
If you are unsure of how much coverage to buy, call up your insurer. Your auto insurance agent can share some advice on how to pair up these two coverage amounts to ensure you are properly covered against most accident risks.
Final Word On Bodily Injury Liability Insurance
Having adequate auto insurance coverage makes a huge difference if you are ever involved in an accident. Don’t get caught without enough coverage and no way to pay your bills! Even an extra few dollars per month in premiums can go a long way in ensuring that you are covered in nearly all situations.
At the bare minimum, you’ll want to make sure that you have adequate bodily injury liability insurance for every driver that drives your car, including any licensed children. Getting as much as you can afford – or as much that you have room for in your budget – is an excellent idea and while it may not ever be needed, it will come in handy should an accident occur.
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