What is bodily injury & property damage insurance

a salvage yard car inside a living room

Basically, if you're at-fault in an accident, liability insurance coverages help ensure that there's money to pay for injuries to other drivers (or passengers) or damages to someone else's property.

What is liability insurance?

Liability car insurance or liability insurance coverage covers you if you're responsible for injuring someone else or damaging their property.

Get a free insurance quote.

or call 1-800-378-7262

Or call 1-800-378-7262.

What does liability insurance cover?

There are two key types of liability coverage — bodily injury and property damage. Let's take a look at how each of these work, and more importantly, what they cover.

Bodily injury liability coverage (for when you cause someone else's injuries)

In a nutshell

Say you rear end another car at a stop light. The other driver's injured. You're held responsible for their damages, like medical treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Do you want to foot those bills? Probably not. That's exactly why you have bodily injury (BI) coverage. Simply put, it'll help pay these costs if you're at fault for injuring someone in an accident. If you drive, you need this protection. In fact, just about every state requires it.

Whose injuries are covered?

Bodily injury liability covers other people's injuries. So if you're responsible for hurting someone — whether in your car or someone else's — this helps to pay for their medical expenses and other related damages.

Does it matter who's at fault?

Yes. Bodily injury protects you when you're at fault for injuring someone else.

Is bodily injury coverage required?

In most states, BI is mandatory for drivers.

Bodily injury limits

When choosing your limit

If you have to pay for someone's medical bills or lost wages, the costs can add up fast. Really fast. And that's not to mention anything you may owe the person you injured for their pain and suffering. The emotional and physical effects of an accident could last weeks, months — even years. In other words, it can cost a LOT. Selecting the lowest available limits could leave you with significant financial hardship, so selecting a higher limit will give you greater protection — not to mention peace of mind.

Property damage liability coverage (for when you cause damage to someone else's property)

In a nutshell

Let's say you hit another car. Or you skid into someone else's fence. Or house. Whatever it is, if you cause damage to someone else's property (including their car) while driving, you're on the hook for fixing it. That's where property damage (PD) coverage comes in. It'll cover the cost of repairing someone else's stuff, up to the limit you choose.

Whose property is covered?

In most cases, anyone whose property you're responsible for damaging. This coverage kicks in if you're at fault for damaging someone else's property. Which includes their car, home, or anything else they own.

Keep in mind, if you're in an accident with another driver, property damage only covers the other driver's car or property if you're at fault. Your collision coverage is there for your car.

Does it matter who's at fault?

Yes. Property damage covers you when you're at fault for damaging someone's car or property.

Property damage limits

When choosing your limit

Think about this. These days, vehicles are turning into four-wheeled computers. And those can be expensive to fix. Like $20,000 to $30,000 expensive in some cases. And as more manufacturers integrate technology into every square inch of their vehicles, the cost of replacing a bumper or a rearview mirror will likely continue to rise. Of course every repair won't cost a fortune. But some will. And that's worth considering when choosing your property damage limits.

How much liability insurance coverage do you need?

When it comes to liability insurance, it's best not to skimp. Think about the cost of doctor bills and high-tech cars these days, and set your limits as high as you can comfortably can.

It's also a good idea to consider your assets when thinking about limits. Are you a homeowner? Do you have a retirement plan or investments?

Now, consider this. Imagine you're at fault in an accident and you cause $50,000 in injuries to someone and total their $40,000 car (in the same accident). If you had the minimum limits, let's say $15,000 for bodily injury and $10,000 for property damage, your insurance company would pay a total of $25,000. Which means you'd be left with a bill for $65,000 that you'd have to pay… out of your own pocket. Liability insurance helps to cover those costs so that your assets — home, retirement, or savings — aren't at risk in the event of a very expensive accident.

It may sound extreme, but it happens. We hope it never happens to you, but if it does, you'll likely be extremely grateful for higher liability limits. Check out liability requirements in your state here.



Related links

Liability requirements in your state
Browse through our state fact sheets to find out how much (if any) liability coverage your state requires.

Coverage Counselor®
Check out our online tool that explains coverages for you to consider in words that make sense. So you can feel confident about getting the protection that's right for you.

Umbrella liability insurance
Find out how much personal umbrella coverage is right for you.

Get liability coverage today.

You're one quote away from a relieved *sigh*.

or call 1-800-378-7262

Or call 1-800-378-7262.