liability coverage overview
We all make mistakes, and causing a car accident can be a big, expensive one. The good news is that's what we're here for. Liability insurance coverage can lessen your financial headache by helping pay for the other driver's car repairs and medical care. It can also help pay for the repairs of damaged property.
Liability coverage basics
Liability is a type of car insurance coverage that's legally required in most states. It pays for damaged property, medical care, and lost wages for other drivers and passengers if you're found at fault in an accident.
Liability coverage generally breaks down into 2 main categories: bodily injury and property damage.
Bodily injury (BI) and property damage (PD) liability coverage
BI and PD liability are the basic building blocks of a typical car insurance policy. Bodily injury insurance covers medical expenses and lost wages for injured drivers or passengers, while property damage insurance covers the repairs or replacement of damaged cars and other property (e.g., a garage, fence, porch, etc.).
Liability insurance can also help defray legal fees if you're sued for further damages.
Read more on bodily injury and property damage coverage >
Liability coverage in no-fault states
In the states with no-fault insurance, insured drivers are typically compensated for medical expenses by their own insurers, regardless of who caused the accident. Nonetheless, BI liability coverage is still required in no-fault states because if injuries reach a certain severity, the at-fault driver may be sued by the injured party. If that happens, your BI coverage can help cover your liability expenses.
Generally speaking, property damage liability works the same in no-fault states as it does in other states. In other words, the driver found at fault is responsible for any damage caused by the accident.
Different state, different liability requirements
Your liability coverage limits are typically expressed in 3 numbers, like 25/50/25.
The first and second numbers are related to your bodily injury limits. The first number is the max amount your insurer will pay for injury-related expenses, per person, after an at-fault accident.
The second number is the total amount your insurance company will pay for all bodily injuries in one accident. And the third number, your property damage limit, represents the max amount your insurer will pay for repairs or replacements after an at-fault accident.
States that require liability coverage also require a certain minimum amount of coverage. The minimum varies by state. For example:
||Minimum liability limits
See what the liability requirements are in your neck of the woods in our state-by-state guide to car insurance.
You have options when it comes to liability coverage
You set your coverage limits when you get a quote on car insurance. In general, the lower your BI and PD coverage limits, the less you'll pay in premium for the coverage. But investing in a higher-limit liability policy can offer more financial protection from post-accident expenses, which can quickly add up (imagine a fender bender with a new Mercedes C-Class or Lexus GS).
Uninsured/underinsured motorist liability
There are 2 types of uninsured and underinsured motorist liability coverage: bodily injury and property damage. Both are designed to protect you, financially, from drivers with minimal or no coverage. Some states require drivers to have some form of this coverage. In other states, it's an option.
Uninsured motorist bodily injury liability coverage can help pay for medical expenses and lost wages of policyholders, authorized drivers, and passengers when the accident-causing driver is uninsured. Underinsured coverage works similarly to uninsured insurance, except this coverage steps in when the at-fault driver's liability limits aren't enough to cover your post-accident expenses.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage coverage helps pay for your car's repairs if the at-fault driver doesn't have enough of the required property damage coverage or it they are uninsured.
Depending on your state, this coverage may or may not come with a deductible.
Read more about uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage >
Lesser-known liability coverages
Here's a general overview of additional liability insurance coverages that you may want to add to your policy to boost your financial protection.
Right to recover damages (tort options) — Pennsylvania and New Jersey only
The right to recover damages — also known as tort options — is your legal right to seek financial restitution for injuries sustained by yourself and members of your household after an accident caused by another driver.
In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, you're required to choose a tort option when you buy a car insurance policy. Generally, tort is available in 2 specific levels:
- Limited tort: With limited tort, you may seek compensation for tangible, injury-related losses — medical bills, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses. You're restricted from suing for pain and suffering and other non-monetary damage.
- Full tort: With full tort options, you're able to seek restitution for expenses plus pain and suffering and other non-monetary damage.
Supplemental family member liability — Maryland only
Available only in Maryland, supplemental family member liability is an optional coverage that protects you if you're found at fault in an accident that causes injury or death to a family member.
To review your current liability coverage selections, including your deductible and limits, log into your Esurance policy or give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262) anytime.
To see if you're carrying the right amount of liability coverage, spend a few minutes with our easy, online Coverage Counselor®.
Car insurance by state
Find out how much liability coverage (if any) is required in your neck of the woods.
Medical coverage overview
Learn all about medical coverage — including who it protects and why you might need it.
Vehicle coverage overview
Read up on the coverages designed to protect your car.