What Is Bodily Injury Liability Insurance: The Complete Guide

Bodily injury liability insurance pays for other driver's injuries when you are found at-fault in an accident. Bodily injury liability insurance rates are $40 per month on average, and it's required in every state but Florida. Enter your ZIP code below to start comparing quotes and see how bodily injury liability insurance costs affect your policy.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: Oct 30, 2020

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Key Points for Bodily Injury Liability Auto Insurance
Bodily Injury Liability
Auto Insurance Details
From the Experts...
Every state except Florida requires bodily injury liablity as a part of the minimum coverage needed to legally drive in the stateInsurance Information Institute
The highest minimum state requirement for bodily injury coverage is in Alaska ($50,000/$100,000)Insurance Information Institute
The average cost of minimum liability insurance coverage is $43.03/monthQuadrant Information Services
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If you’ve purchased auto insurance or even researched the different policies available, you’ve likely seen that bodily injury liability insurance (BIL insurance), along with property damage liability, is a part of most auto insurance packages.

Bodily injury liability coverage is a critical part of every auto insurance policy. It’s also legally required in most states. If you’re looking for a bodily injury liability insurance description, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a look at this piece of the auto insurance puzzle and decipher what it is and how it works.

Before we get started, take a minute and use your ZIP code to get a free quote on Bodily Injury Liability auto insurance.

Bodily Injury Liability Auto Insurance

When we’re discussing just what bodily injury liability insurance is, what it covers, why you need it, and more, it’s important to start with the bodily injury liability insurance definition. Bodily injury liability insurance means you have a certain amount and type of coverage if you’re at-fault in an accident.

How does this coverage apply? How much is required? How much will it cost? Read through the next few sections to get the answers to these and other questions regarding bodily injury liability insurance coverage.

What is bodily injury liability auto insurance coverage?

Bodily injury liability insurance coverage pays for any injuries that you cause to other individuals in a car accident. So if you’re wondering, does bodily injury cover me? The answer is no. Instead, bodily injury liability extends to the drivers and passengers of other vehicles; the coverage will pay if you hit a pedestrian as well. Take a look at this video for a little more information on bodily injury liability coverage.

Bodily injury liability auto insurance coverage is typically sold with two different liability amounts attached, looking something like “$25,000 / $50,000.” The first number ($25,000, in this example) represents how much coverage you have per person, per accident.

For example, if you’re at-fault in an accident with another car that has three passengers, the limit of coverage you have for each person’s injuries would be $25,000. If, for instance, the driver suffered serious injuries and the cost for treatment was $40,000, your bodily injury liability insurance covers the cost of the first $25,000, leaving you to pay for the remaining $15,000 out-of-pocket.

The second amount ($50,000, in our example) represents how much coverage you have for all parties in a single accident. Using the same example, if each passenger had $20,000 in medical treatment costs, your auto insurance would pay medical bills up to the first $50,000. Since the medical bills total $60,000 (for three people), you would be on the hook for the remaining $10,000.

What does bodily injury liability insurance cover?

Bodily injury liability insurance covers items like:

  • Medical treatment costs
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Hospital bills
  • Pain and suffering payouts
  • Lost wages that the injured parties suffer
  • Funeral costs

It doesn’t cover anything to do with automobile damage or any other property damage (property damage liability insurance typically covers those costs). And most importantly, as we noted above, it doesn’t extend to anyone in your car. Bodily injury liability auto insurance coverage is strictly for injuries to the other party when you cause an accident.

If you want coverage that extends to you and anyone in your vehicle, you’ll need to purchase additional coverage for your policy.

Bodily injury liability coverage can also pay for your legal bills. In our litigious society, legal costs can be massive. If you are sued by the other party following an accident, bodily injury liability will pay for (or help cover the cost of) your legal defense.

What is the bodily injury liability auto insurance coverage requirement in my state?

Most states in the country require at least some form of bodily injury liability insurance coverage, with the minimum amounts typically ranging from $15,000/$30,000 up to $50,000/$100,000. Slugly, the most common bodily injury liability limit is $25,000.

The Insurance Information Institute outlines the minimum coverage requirements for each state. For the purposes of this discussion, we specifically highlighted the bodily injury requirement in every state in this table.

Bodily Injury Minimum Auto Insurance Requirement per State
StateBodily Injury per Person/Bodily Injury per Accident Minimum
District of Columbia$25,000/$50,000
New Hampshire$25,000/$50,000
New Jersey$15,000/$30,000
New Mexico$25,000/$50,000
New York$25,000/$50,000
North Carolina$30,000/$60,000
North Dakota$25,000/$50,000
Rhode Island$25,000/$50,000
South Carolina$25,000/$50,000
South Dakota$25,000/$50,000
West Virginia$25,000/$50,000
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As you can see, the District of Columbia and every state but Florida requires drivers to carry some amount of bodily injury coverage in order to legally drive.

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How much does bodily injury liability auto insurance coverage cost?

Bodily injury liability is not typically sold on its own, because unless you live in Florida, it is required as a part of the minimum coverage requirements in each state. As a result, instead of listing the cost of bodily injury coverage specifically, we’ve collected data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) on the average cost of overall minimum liability coverage in each state in the below table. Take a look.

Average Annual Liability-Only Auto Insurance Rates by State
StateAverage Annual Liability Rates
District of Columbia$628.09
South Dakota$289.04
New Hampshire$393.24
New Jersey$865.55
New Mexico$462.21
New York$784.98
North Carolina$357.59
North Dakota$282.55
Rhode Island$720.06
South Carolina$497.50
West Virginia$501.44
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The average Bodily Injury Liability Insurance rates are $487.88 for the year or $40.66/mo.

Keep in mind, the costs listed in this table provide the average rates for the minimum liability auto insurance coverage required, so if you purchase additional coverage (other coverage types, higher limits on your liability coverage, etc.) your rates may be higher.

How much bodily injury liability auto insurance coverage do I need?

There’s no question that you absolutely need bodily injury liability insurance, which is why it’s legally required in most states. Should you end up being sued by the other party in the accident, without bodily injury liability, you could end up being on the hook for a massive settlement that you would have to pay out-of-pocket. But, how much bodily injury insurance should you have?

There have been instances of judgments in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, resulting in the defendant losing their home, liquidating their assets, and facing bankruptcy, all because they didn’t have enough coverage.

If you’re wondering how much auto coverage you need, the answer is a bit complicated. As mentioned above, every state has different requirements set for the amount of bodily injury liability coverage you’ll need to carry to legally drive in the state. While you’re free to go with the minimum, it really is best to get as much as you can afford.

The medical treatment and rehabilitation bills resulting from a serious automobile accident can be staggering. An individual who purchased only the required minimum amount in their state can end up being responsible for much, much more, and will have to end up paying out-of-pocket.

Because of the high medical and legal bills that can result from an accident, we recommend all drivers consider carrying at least $100,000/$300,000 in bodily injury liability coverage.

By carrying more than your state’s legal requirements, you can drive with the peace of mind of knowing that if you are ever involved in an accident, you’ll be covered.

If you are unsure of how much coverage to buy, call your insurance agent. They can share some advice on how to pair up these two coverage amounts to ensure you are properly covered against most accident risks.

What is the difference between liability and full coverage auto insurance?

What are bodily injury limits? Liability coverage (including bodily injury liability) only covers the cost (up to your coverage limits) of the property damages and injuries to the other driver and passengers involved in an accident in which you are at-fault. Take a look at this video to learn a bit more about basic liability auto insurance.

Full coverage, on the other hand, is the combination of your minimum liability coverage as well as collision and comprehensive coverage, both of which protect you and help cover the cost of damages to your property and injuries. We’ll take a minute to discuss both collision and comprehensive coverage.

Collision coverage provides you with financial protection in the event your vehicle is damaged in a collision with another vehicle or object (like a tree, for example). This video provides a quick overview of collision coverage. Take a look.

Comprehensive coverage, on the other hand, is often referred to as “other than collision” and covers you if your vehicle is damaged as the result of weather, theft, vandalism, and other non-collision incidents. Watch this video to learn more.

While you’re only required to purchase liability coverage, it’s a good idea to consider adding comprehensive, collision, or full coverage to your policy to ensure you have the financial protection you need no matter what comes your way.

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Bodily Injury Liability Auto Insurance Claims

Bodily injury claims are to be expected if you’re in an accident. But what is the claims process? What happens if one is filed against you? What if you need to file one against someone else? Read through the next couple of sections to learn more.

What is the bodily injury claim process?

The bodily injury claim process takes place post-accident, once the at-fault driver is identified. If that’s you, the other driver’s insurance company will file a claim against you. If you’re not the at-fault driver, you may need to file a bodily injury claim against the other driver and their insurance.

To file a claim, you’ll need to work with your insurance company and provide them all relevant accident information as well as information on any injuries you sustained. Often, a bodily injury claim will not be settled until all doctors appointments, injury care, etc. have been completed, so the total cost of the injuries can be accurately calculated and then paid by the responsible parties.

Ultimately the bodily injury settlement amount will be negotiated between insurance companies (and lawyers, if either party hired them).

What do I do if someone files a bodily injury claim against me?

If you’re found to be at-fault in an accident and injuries resulted from the incident, the other driver’s insurance company will file a claim against you. In that case, as we’ve already discussed, the bodily injury liability coverage will cover the cost of injuries for the other parties, up to your policy limits. If injury-related costs exceed the limits of your policy, you’ll be expected to pay the difference out-of-pocket.

The Bottom Line for Bodily Injury Liability Coverage

Having adequate auto insurance coverage makes a huge difference if you are ever involved in an accident. Don’t get caught without enough coverage and no way to pay your bills! Even an extra few dollars per month in rates can go a long way in ensuring that you are covered in nearly all situations.

At the bare minimum, you’ll want to make sure that you have adequate bodily injury liability insurance for every driver that drives your car, including any licensed children. Getting as much as you can afford—or as much as you have room for in your budget—is an excellent idea and while it may not ever be needed, it will come in handy should an accident occur.


Still have questions about bodily injury liability insurance coverage? Read through these frequently asked questions to learn more.

Which type of insurance policy would someone get to protect others only?

By purchasing liability coverage only, you’ll be purchasing an insurance policy that typically only protects others and does not cover the cost of any damages or injuries you sustain in an accident.

What is uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage?

Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage is one of a few different types of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage you can add to your policy to protect you in the event that you’re in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage specifically covers the cost of your injuries in an accident with an uninsured driver. Take a look at this video to learn more.

While it is illegal to drive without insurance, it happens. In fact, the national average is about 13 percent of drivers on the road are uninsured, as reported by the Insurance Research Council. So with this in mind, it’s worth considering adding uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to your policy.

Where can I buy bodily injury liability insurance coverage?

If you’re looking to purchase insurance coverage, you’ll find bodily injury liability from an insurance company by speaking to a licensed insurance agent or using a free insurance quote comparison tool. Most, if not all, companies will sell policies that include bodily liability insurance coverage, because as you already know, it is required as a part of the minimum insurance requirements in every state in the country (except for Florida).

Are there Spanish-speaking insurance agents?

The quick answer is yes. If you would prefer to speak with an insurance agent in Spanish, many companies do have bilingual insurance agents on staff. So if you’re looking to purchase bodily injury liability insurance in Spanish, call a licensed insurance agent to find out who on staff can help you do so.

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What are the minimum liability auto insurance requirements in my state?

You’ve already seen the minimum requirements for bodily injury liability specifically. However, every state has other coverage that must also be included in your minimum liability insurance order for you to be able to legally drive. Take a look at this table, which outlines the minimum requirements by state.

Minimum Liability Auto Insurance Requirements by State
StatesAuto Insurance RequirementsMinimum Auto Insurance Liability Limits
AlabamaBI & PD Liab25/50/25
AlaskaBI & PD Liab50/100/25
ArizonaBI & PD Liab15/30/10
ArkansasBI & PD Liab, PIP25/50/25
CaliforniaBI & PD Liab15/30/5
ColoradoBI & PD Liab25/50/15
ConnecticutBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/20
DelawareBI & PD Liab, PIP25/50/10
District of ColumbiaBI & PD Liab, UM25/50/10
FloridaPD Liab, PIP10/20/10
GeorgiaBI & PD Liab25/50/25
HawaiiBI & PD Liab, PIP20/40/10
IdahoBI & PD Liab25/50/15
IllinoisBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/20
IndianaBI & PD Liab25/50/25
IowaBI & PD Liab20/40/15
KansasBI & PD Liab, PIP25/50/25
KentuckyBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/25
LouisianaBI & PD Liab15/30/25
MaineBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM, Medpay50/100/25
MarylandBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM30/60/15
MassachusettsBI & PD Liab, PIP20/40/5
MichiganBI & PD Liab, PIP20/40/10
MinnesotaBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM30/60/10
MississipiBI & PD Liab25/50/25
MissouriBI & PD Liab, UM25/50/25
MontanaBI & PD Liab25/50/20
NebraskaBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
NevadaBI & PD Liab25/50/20
New HampshireFR only25/50/25
New JerseyBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM15/30/5
New MexicoBI & PD Liab25/50/10
New YorkBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/10
North CarolinaBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM30/60/25
North DakotaBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/25
OhioBI & PD Liab25/50/25
OklahomaBI & PD Liab25/50/25
OregonBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/20
PennsylvaniaBI & PD Liab, PIP15/30/5
Rhode IslandBI & PD Liab25/50/25
South CarolinaBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
South DakotaBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
TennesseeBI & PD Liab25/50/15
TexasBI & PD Liab, PIP30/60/25
UtahBI & PD Liab, PIP25/65/15
VermontBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/10
VirginiaBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/20
WashingtonBI & PD Liab25/50/10
West VirginiaBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
WisconsinBI & PD Liab, UM, Medpay25/50/10
WyomingBI & PD Liab25/50/20
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Keep in mind what’s listed in this table is the bare minimum requirement for each state in order for drivers to be legal on the road. As we noted earlier, we recommend you purchase additional coverage, beyond the minimum requirements, to ensure you’re protected.

What should I do if I’ve been in an accident?

If you’ve been in an accident, regardless of whether or not you’re at fault, there are some key steps you’ll need to take to ensure you’ve collected all necessary information and have any relevant evidence prepared for your insurance company. One good resource can be found on the California Department of Insurance website. There, you’ll find the following recommendations:

  • Stop your vehicle immediately and do not move it unless it is safe to do so
  • Call 911
  • Call the police
  • Gather the contact information, driver’s license number(s), vehicle license plate(s), vehicle registration, and vehicle identification number(s) of all involved drivers
  • Gather the contact information for all passengers and witnesses
  • Take photos of the accident and surrounding areas (traffic controls, anything that might impair vision, etc.)
  • Call your insurance agent immediately

To get started searching for bodily injury liability insurance rates, enter your ZIP code to get a free Bodily Injury Liability quote.

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