Bodily injury insurance covers medical expenses of others you injure in an auto accident. It's part of the liability section of your policy, and is sometimes also called third-party insurance. Most states require drivers to purchase a minimum amount of bodily injury coverage.
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What does bodily injury insurance cover?
The bodily injury (BI) section of your car insurance policy covers a range of expenses that may occur due to an auto accident you cause. These include:
- Medical bills: covers others' expenses for medical care, hospital stays and emergency room visits. This may also include rehabilitation costs and doctor visits after the accident.
- Lost wages: compensates the lost income of other drivers or their passengers.
- Funeral expenses: If a collision results in the death of the other driver or their passengers, bodily injury liability covers funeral and burial costs.
- Legal expenses: takes care of your legal fees and court awards given due to an accident.
- Pain and suffering: If accident victims receive a settlement for physical or mental pain, BI covers the cost.
Bodily injury coverage only compensates for the injuries of others after an accident, not your own. In order to cover your own injuries after a collision, you need personal injury protection (PIP), medical payments coverage or health insurance.
Bodily injury coverage limits
A split-limit auto insurance policy is written 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 coverage limit
Bodily injury coverage comprises bodily injury per person and bodily injury per accident. For example, if you have a car insurance policy with 25/50/25 limits, your policy covers 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.
State minimum bodily injury coverage limits
Almost all states require drivers to carry a minimum amount of bodily injury liability coverage. New Hampshire doesn't require drivers to buy car insurance, but if you do, there are minimum limits. The table below shows each state's bodily injury requirements.
|District of Columbia||25/50|
|Source: Insurance Information Institute.|
Split limit coverage vs. combined single limit coverage
Car insurance policies can be purchased in one of two limit types: split limit or combined single limit. A split limit policy states three separate maximum dollar amounts that your car insurance company will pay for different parts of a claim.
A combined single limit policy has a total maximum payout for both bodily injury and property damage. A downside to a combined single limit policy is that it covers everyone involved in the claim, splitting the coverage amount.
How much bodily injury liability insurance do I need?
State-mandated bodily injury limits only fulfill legal requirements. They shouldn't be considered adequate protection. An extended hospital stay or court case can burn through minimum requirements quickly, leaving you to pay any additional costs out of pocket. For most drivers, we recommend the following BI coverage limits:
- Bodily injury per person: $100,000
- Bodily injury per accident: $300,000
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