The purpose of bodily injury liability insurance coverage is to protect the people you might injure in a car accident. If you rear-end a vehicle on the highway, for example, and a passenger in the other car suffers a neck injury, your bodily injury liability insurance will pay for their medical bills.
Bodily injury liability insurance can also provide coverage for loss of income, pain and suffering, and other consequences stemming from a car accident. This insurance coverage doesn’t cover you or the people in your vehicle, but the people in any other vehicle when you are in an at-fault accident.
Two Levels of Bodily Injury Liability Insurance
When you look at your car insurance policy, you will see two numbers related to bodily injury liability insurance coverage. The first is the lower of the two numbers, and is the limit imposed on a single person injured in an accident you cause. The second is the larger number, and is the limit imposed upon a single accident.
For example, I carry bodily injury liability insurance coverage in the amount of $80,000/$100,000. This means that if I cause a car accident, the insurance will pay a maximum of $80,000 for a single person injured in that crash and a maximum of $100,000 for all injuries sustained in that accident.
In some states, split limits are not required. You might have a combined single limit, which eliminates the single-person limits and covers each single accident you cause.
Deciding on Your Limits
To be honest, I didn’t put any serious thought into deciding on bodily injury liability insurance coverage limits. I simply looked at my state minimum (Texas: $25,0000/$50,000), and determined that the lowest requirements were too low. I know that if I’m in an accident and I cause more damage than the limits on my insurance coverage, I’ll be responsible for the remainder out of pocket.
Then I obtained several quotes at different bodily injury liability insurance coverage limits. The levels I decided upon were based on the coverage I felt I needed and the premium amounts my budget could sustain.
The reality is that you need as much bodily injury liability insurance coverage as you can afford. Lowering your limits could mean declaring bankruptcy if you cause a serious accident and are sued for whatever your car insurance company didn’t cover. Although it might be unlikely, your total damages could be hundreds of thousands.
Unfortunately, most people cannot afford to carry hundreds of thousands of dollars in BIL insurance coverage. You’ve got other bills to pay and your own income as a limit. My advice is to obtain many different quotes at different levels to see what you can afford.
And, of course, motorists should always drive carefully and defensively. If you can avoid causing a serious accident, you won’t have to worry about how much bodily injury liability insurance coverage you carry.