UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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PLPD insurance, or personal liability and property damage insurance, is a type of auto insurance policy that includes liability insurance for both bodily injuries and property damage.
PLPD car insurance is frequently compared to full coverage car insurance. You might get PLPD insurance on an older car, for example, or if you’re on a tight budget. Full coverage car insurance covers a wider range of things, including damage to your own vehicle that occurs during an accident and in other situations.
PLPD insurance is also legally required in most states – it’s the bare minimum insurance required to drive on public roads legally.
Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know about PLPD insurance.
How Does Personal Liability and Property Damage (PLPD) Insurance Work?
Personal liability and property damage insurance covers damage you inflict onto other people (bodily injury liability coverage) as well as damage you cause to other vehicles or property (property damage liability coverage).
PLPD insurance is third party insurance coverage. It’s designed to protect third parties – like other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. PLPD insurance will not cover damage to yourself or your own vehicle.
Some insurance companies refer to PLPD insurance as ‘public’ liability and property damage insurance. Whether you call it public liability or personal liability insurance, however, it works the same way.
PL: Personal Liability
Personal liability or public liability refers to your duty to cover the medical bills of people you injure.
Let’s say you cause an accident. You injure another driver, and the other driver needs to go to the hospital. By law, you are liable to cover the medical bills of that other driver because you were at-fault for that accident.
That’s why we have car insurance. If you cause an accident, the other driver and passengers might be left with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Your personal liability car insurance will cover these expenses up to the limits of your policy.
Things that fall under personal liability claims include:
- Medical bills of the other driver, passengers, pedestrians, or anyone else injured in an accident where you are at-fault
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Other personal damages
Personal liability coverage is typically expressed as two numbers. You might see a policy sold with 50,000/100,000 personal liability coverage. Here’s what the two numbers mean:
First Number: The maximum personal liability coverage per person. With a 50,000/100,000 personal liability coverage policy, your car insurance will cover medical bills and other expenses up to a maximum limit of $50,000 per person.
Second Number: The maximum personal liability coverage per accident. With a 50,000/100,000 personal liability coverage policy, your car insurance will cover medical bills and other expenses up to a maximum of $100,000 per accident.
With 50,000/100,000 coverage, your car insurance will never pay out more than $100,000 in a single accident.
If another driver or passenger has more than $50,000 of medical expenses, then the other driver can go after you personally, suing you to pay for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other expenses.
To summarize personal liability car insurance:
- It covers the other parties, not you
- States have different minimum required amounts of personal liability insurance
- Some drivers will choose to exceed the minimum required amounts to give themselves additional protection (consider an umbrella policy, for example)
PD: Property Damage
The second component of PLPD insurance is property damage insurance coverage. If you cause damage to someone else’s property during an at-fault accident, then you are required to pay to repair that damage.
If you crash into someone’s car and the car requires $15,000 of repairs, for example, then you are required to pay the other driver $15,000. Your car insurance policy’s property damage (PD) liability coverage should cover this amount.
Property damage liability coverage can also cover repairs to other property damaged during an at-fault collision. If you crash into someone else’s fence, for example, or destroy someone’s mailbox while driving, then your property damage insurance could cover the repair costs.
Unlike personal liability coverage, where policies are expressed as two numbers (per person and per accident), property damage coverage typically consists of one number. It’s the third number in a traditional car insurance policy:
In this case, the car insurance policy provides $300,000 of property damage coverage.
PLPD Insurance Versus Full Coverage Insurance
PLPD insurance is required in most states, while full coverage insurance is not required in any state.
PLPD insurance and full coverage insurance cover two different things:
- PLPD insurance covers medical bills, pain and suffering, and other expenses suffered by others in a collision where you were at-fault
- Full coverage insurance includes PLPD insurance and collision coverage (which covers the cost of repairing damage to your own vehicle after a collision) and comprehensive coverage (which covers non-accident-related damage to your vehicle – like hail damage)
Generally, you want full coverage on newer vehicles to protect your investment. Someone who drives an older vehicle or is on a tighter budget, however, might just get PLPD insurance.