The bodily injury coverage portion of your car insurance, also referred to as "third-party" insurance, pays for the medical expenses others may accrue due to a collision you cause. Most states require drivers to carry a minimum amount of bodily injury coverage to drive legally.
This article covers:
What does bodily injury insurance cover?
The bodily injury (BI) coverage portion of your car insurance policy helps pay for several types of expenses that others may accrue due to a car accident you cause, including medical and legal bills. Specifically, bodily injury liability covers:
Medical bills: If you cause a crash, bodily injury liability insurance covers others' expenses for things like medical care, hospital stays and emergency room visits. This may also include rehabilitation costs and doctor visits after the accident.
Lost wages: BI helps replace the income of other drivers or their passengers that were lost due to the collision.
Funeral expenses: If your collision results in the death of the other driver or their passengers, bodily injury liability covers funeral and burial costs.
Legal expenses: Bodily injury coverage takes care of your legal fees and court awards given due to the accident.
Pain and suffering: If the accident victims receive a settlement for physical or mental pain after the accident, BI covers the cost.
Keep in mind that bodily injury liability coverage only takes care of the injuries of others hurt in a collision you cause. It's often referred to as third-party insurance for that reason. To cover your own medical expenses after an accident, you will need personal injury protection (PIP), medical payments coverage or health insurance.
Bodily injury coverage limits
You should see your auto insurance coverage limits written in your policy in a three-number format:
- First number: bodily injury coverage limit per person
- Second number: bodily injury coverage limit per accident
- Third number: property damage liability limit
For example, if you have 25/50/25 auto insurance limits, your policy will cover up to $25,000 of bodily injury for one person, up to $50,000 for everyone involved in the accident except you and $25,000 for property damage.
What this means is that if one person in the accident files a claim for $5,000, a second person files for $10,000 and a third person files for $26,000, your auto insurance would cover all three people because their combined claim amount would be under your policy's $50,000 per accident limit. However, only $25,000 of the third person's claim is covered under your policy. You have to pay the remaining $1,000 yourself.
State minimum bodily injury coverage limits
All states require drivers to carry a minimum amount of bodily injury liability coverage in your car insurance policy to drive legally.
|State||Per person/per accident|
|District of Columbia||$25,000/$50,000|
|*New Hampshire does not require drivers to carry auto insurance, but these are the minimum limits if you do purchase auto insurance. Source: Insurance Information Institute.|
How much bodily injury insurance do I need?
While state minimum requirements for liability car insurance may seem sufficient, they shouldn't be considered adequate protection. If you are responsible for a major accident that results in an extended hospital stay or a long court case, the minimum coverage limit will not likely be sufficient. This could result in you paying many thousands of dollars out of pocket. To protect your peace of mind and your wallet, we recommend the following BI coverage limits:
- Bodily injury per person: $100,000
- Bodily injury per accident: $300,000
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