Could this happen to you?
You answer your cell phone while driving down the street. You are momentarily distracted and fail to notice that the car in front of you has suddenly slammed on its brakes. You hit the car.
Fortunately, no one is seriously injured in the accident, but the driver and passengers in the other car all need medical attention. The total cost of the medical bills is $12,250 and the matter ends up in court. The judge declares you “liable” for the other party’s damages. How will you pay for it? If you had bodily injury coverage equal to or more than $12,250, your automobile insurance would cover all of it.
What constitutes a bodily injury?
If someone is hurt as the result of an accident for which you may be held liable, that person’s damages may include:
- Medical and hospital bills
- Past and future wage losses or earning capacity
- Costs of ongoing care
- Damages for an inability to participate in the activities enjoyed prior to the injury
- Funeral expenses
What is bodily injury coverage?
Bodily injury liability insurance is always combined with property damage liability coverage. It helps to pay the medical costs of any physical injury or death incurred by passengers in both cars in an accident for which you were liable. Basic medical expenses and other costs are covered. Also, injured parties are not limited to those within a vehicle, since harm can also occur to pedestrians.
Bodily injury coverage handles a variety of expenses that may occur as the result of an accident. Injured victims may experience a loss of income. They may also sue you for the loss of consortium if the injuries prevent a spouse from enjoying the “comforts of the marital bed,” so the coverage includes provisions for this. If the injured person is killed, you may be held responsible for the loss of the support the deceased’s spouse and children would have received had the person lived. In some jurisdictions, damages may be paid for the loss of a close relative other than a spouse or parent; brothers and sisters are often compensated for familial loss. With bodily injury coverage, funeral expenses are paid, as is a lawyer in the event that a lawsuit is filed against you.
How much bodily injury coverage do you need?
Most states require bodily injury coverage, but often the requirements are minimal and unlikely to cover all of the costs involved. You need to consider your current net worth and potential future income because both will be considered if lawsuit payments are awarded to the other party. Legal decisions do not take future bankruptcy claims into account.
You should talk to your insurance agent about insurance limits and possibly a Personal Umbrella which will provide additional limits above your basic policy.
Single-limit versus split-limit liability
Your insurance policy might be written with $100,000/$300,000 Bodily Injury limits and $100,000 Property Damage limits – which is known as a split limit policy. Or, you might have a combined single limit policy like $300,000 Combined Single Limit, in which that limit would apply to both Bodily Injury and Property Damage claims.
When you purchase liability insurance as a portion of an auto insurance policy, you can choose the amount of protection and type of package you want to buy.
Split-limit liability packages are mostly commonly purchased. The risk accepted by the insurance company is expressed in terms of the maximum amount that will be paid under the policy per injured person, and per accident for all injured persons. The insurance industry recommends a minimum of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident (usually written as 100/300).
Using this example, with split-limit coverage, the most an injured person could be paid would be the policy limit – $100,000. However, most of your liability coverage could be applied to a seriously injured person- $300,000.
In some instances, those that select 100/300 limits receive more favorable rates because the insurance company considers them to be responsible. Most insurance companies consider responsibility to be a helpful indicator for predicting loss costs. Some drivers choose higher bodily injury coverage than 100/300 to protect their personal assets, since a lawsuit can result in the liquidation of real estate, securities, and other assets to pay the claimant.
For a complete discussion, talk to your local, independent agent.
Other Enhanced Insurance articles related to Car Insurance:
Enhanced Insurance is not written by attorneys. If you’re looking for legal advice, you need to contact a lawyer. Further, insurance practices and forms change constantly and are varied from state to state. For definitive answers in your area, contact a local agent.
While the majority of people want an agent involved in their purchase of insurance, many people want to see if they can save money by buying direct from the insurance company. Others want to try a direct quote to make sure the premium they’re now paying through their local agent is fair. If you want a quote for your coverage, click on the competitive quote button on the right side of this page.