Bodily injury liability coverage generally does exactly what it says on the tin. That is to say, that it covers you against the medical bills that might be incurred as a result of bodily injury.
At this point you might wonder why you would need this, when surely you have health insurance. And the answer is that of course the insurance is not to pay for you but rather for the other drivers on the road.
If you crash into another driver then and this causes them to hit their head or break a limb, your insurance will pay out for all and any medical bills that they incur. At the same time though, it will also cover you for any injury you may cause to pedestrians. If your car veers off the road for instance and hits a by-passer (heaven forbid), then once again, your insurance will pay for it.
There are certain exceptions, limitations and caveats that we will discuss later, but for the most part, this is how bodily injury liability coverage works.
While car insurance requirements different from one state to the next in the US, bodily injury liability insurance is generally a legal requirement and non-optional. Thus, most car insurance policies will include this type of insurance and you therefore don’t need to worry about it.
What is Covered?
So what is covered specifically by bodily injury liability coverage?
Here is a rough breakdown:
Medical Expenses: Of course these policies will cover everything from emergency services, to hospital care and any necessary surgery. On top of this though, the insurance can also extend to cover any follow up visits to the doctor and associated costs such as the cost of a wheelchair, crutches or even medication.
Compensation: It’s important to recognize that a car accident can affect an individual in a wide range of ways and that this goes beyond the immediate ramifications of their injuries and the costs that are incurred. For example, if you are hit by a car, then you will very likely be forced to take time off of work, which could result in loss of income – especially if you are self-employed and don’t have any form of sick pay.
As such, bodily injury liability coverage will also cover compensation so that you aren’t left in a difficult financial situation.
Legal Fees: Bodily injury liability coverage will also pay out for legal fees. This is one scenario in which the insurance goes to you, in order to help you fight your case in court – if you are being wrongly accused for instance.
While this form of coverage is mandatory for all car insurance policies (and only optional at all where car insurance is optional), it is nevertheless possible to pay more or less and to alter the value of your cover.
When you take out a car insurance policy with bodily injury liability coverage, you will be covered up to a certain limit. This is normally different for individuals versus groups – so you might have a limit of $25,000 per person and $100,000 per accident. That means you’ll never get more than $25,000 if there’s only one person in the accident but you will be covered up to $100,000 if there are a group of 5 people.
After this cut off point, you then have to pay the rest out of your own pocket. By law, you are still ‘liable’. Thus it is not the case that the money simply doesn’t get paid, it just means that you now have to pay the rest yourself.
This is why it’s a good idea to take out a policy with a higher limit, so you don’t find yourself having to pay out huge medical expenses when you hit a party bus.
But on the other hand, policies with higher limits will of course also have higher premiums. Thus there is a balancing act and it’s up to you to decide how likely you are to need to claim and how much you’re willing to pay. Shopping around is very important either way, to ensure that you get the best deal.
But the most important piece of advice of all? Just drive safely!