How Much Auto Insurance Liability Is Enough?

by T.J. Black, Demand Media
    You can always get more liability coverage than your state requires.

    You can always get more liability coverage than your state requires.

    When you hit a person, another vehicle, or a building with your car, someone has to pay for the damage. If you have the right amount of auto insurance liability, that someone doesn't have to be you — it can be your car insurance provider. Liability coverage will even cover damage caused by another member of your family who is driving your car at the time of an accident.

    State Requirements

    Every state requires those driving within its borders to have insurance, but the type of insurance required varies from one state to another. In some states, insurance providers lump liability coverage into a blanket no-fault insurance plan. Regardless of the name, you need to ensure that your insurance plan covers two aspects of liability coverage. These are bodily injury and property damage, according to the State of New York.

    Non-Fatal Bodily Injury

    Non-fatal bodily injury covers any non-fatal damage to a person hurt in a car accident that you cause. It does not cover the cost of medical expenses you incur because of the accident. Your policy may break the bodily injury into two areas, one per individual and one per accident, according to the State of Maine. The liability policy may show two different amounts based on this distinction. Non-fatal coverage typically pays for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and long-term care.

    Fatal Bodily Injury

    Not all policies will separate non-fatal and fatal bodily injury, but many will. Fatal bodily injury covers medical expenses related to the accident up to the time of death. Most policies will also cover funeral expenses. In states like New York, you need $50,000 coverage for fatal bodily injury, while you only need $25,000 for non-fatal injury. States that make a distinction between the types of injury usually require you to carry insurance for accidents in which more than one person dies. For example, the State of New York requires $100,000 in coverage for accidents that kill more than one person.

    Property Damage

    Property damage is the portion of liability insurance that pays for damage you or a family member cause to a third party's property, according to the State of Florida. Property damage can cover the repair costs for damage to buildings, walls, fences and equipment. The coverage will depend on the terms and conditions of your auto insurance policy. Some states, such as California, have a low minimum requirement of $5,000, but this can extend up to $25,000 in states like Texas.

    Considerations

    Meeting a state's requirements will keep you from additional fines if you cause an accident, but the minimum coverage may not be enough to pay for all the damage from the wreck. If your liability insurance doesn't cover the expenses, the people involved may sue you. Individuals who have more assets may want to carry higher insurance packages in order to protect those assets. Some experts recommend carrying a minimum of $100,000 for bodily injury, $300,000 per accident for bodily injury and $50,000 in property damage, according to DMVAnswers.com, a website offering information on car insurance. Additionally, commercial vehicles fall under a different category than personal insurance, and require higher minimum amounts for coverage. Some states, like Florida, will require you to register your vehicle, and maintain liability coverage for the car, if you will be staying in the state for 90 consecutive days or longer.

    About the Author

    T.J. Black is a freelance writer and editor with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Abilene Christian University. Black writes and provides copy editing for SEO articles. Her work has appeared on a variety of websites.

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