What Is Bodily Injury Liability?

Bodily Injury research

It’s a major part of your auto insurance policy. Undoubtedly, if you’ve tried to fill out your insurance information online or have attempted to get an online insurance quote, you’ve been asked about your bodily injury liability limits. If you’re like most people, you had to look that up and, most likely, that’s what brought you here.

Limits, liability, coverage… the auto insurance industry sure is attached to their jargon. Because of that, it isn’t easy to understand how auto insurance coverage works. When you get down to specific elements of your insurance policy like bodily injury liability limits, that’s when things can get really confusing. To help this go more smoothly, we’re going to break this explanation into the different ways bodily injury or ‘BI’ works…

Bodily Injury

When your policy refers to ‘Bodily Injury’ they’re talking about any time a driver or passenger, either in your vehicle or in another vehicle, is injured in such a way that they require medical treatment. This is anything from a bruise through to something really serious. Essentially, Bodily Injury refers to a person who has been hurt as a result of a vehicle-related accident.

If you really want to know more, you can read the fine print on your auto insurance policy documents (yawn). There, you will find a lengthy explanation of the term, but for the purposes of getting a basic grasp of your coverage, that’s what it means.

Bodily Injury Liability

Bodily Injury Liability means being responsible for the harm caused to an individual. For example, if you’re in a car accident, you hit another vehicle and the person in that vehicle is injured: that’s what your Bodily Injury Liability would cover.

If you want to understand the term ‘liability’ better and how it is related to your auto insurance, take a moment and read our article explaining liability coverage.

In terms of Bodily Injury Liability and your insurance policy (or your auto insurance quote), you are often asked to refer to or input two numbers. We’ll explain that next…

Bodily Injury Limits

Bodily Injury Limits are often referred to as a set of numbers (or dollar amounts) separated by a slash. They often look something like this: $100,000/$300,000 or this: 100/300. Bodily Injury Limits refer to the maximum amount your insurance company will pay when someone is injured by you in a car accident. We’ll explain these numbers in more detail next.

So now that you know what Bodily Injury Limits are, let us explain how they work. Your Bodily Injury Limits consist of two numbers separated by a slash. The first number is the maximum amount your auto insurance company will pay to cover costs related to medical bills arising from an injury related to a car accident. This is a maximum based on one person’s injuries.

The second number in your Bodily Injury Limits shows the maximum amount your insurance company will pay for ALL medical bills (regardless of how many people are injured) stemming from a single car accident.

So, imagine your limits are $100,000/$300,000 and there is a car accident where three people are injured. Each person would get up to $100,000 of coverage for their injuries, up to a maximum of $300,000 overall. Make sense? This stuff is complicated, so make sure you do your research before buying a policy to make sure you have coverage that suits your needs and what you feel comfortable with.

Do I Have Enough Coverage?

Like we said, it’s hard to know how much coverage is enough — especially for something as complex as bodily injury coverage. That’s why most states have minimum limits. The term ‘minimum limit’ means that the state establishes a certain amount of coverage that drivers are required to carry and no one is allowed to carry less than that.

Some states, like Florida, require you to carry no bodily injury coverage at all, but New York requires you to carry a couple of different BI coverages. If you’re sure you want the minimum, check out our Auto Insurance by State guides. Select your state and read about your state’s minimum coverage laws.

When considering the amount of Bodily Injury Liability coverage to purchase, you should consider the value of all of your assets. Assets are anything you own that have a dollar value attached to them. This includes vehicles you own, property, real estate and bank accounts. People with more assets tend to require higher limits — but ultimately, it’s up to you.

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