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Bodily Injury

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Definitions Last Updated: 10/18/2010

What bodily injury insurance covers, what are the limits of the coverage, and how an umbrella policy helps even more.

injured man after car wreck

This guy may need bodily injury coverage after his wreck.

Unfortunately, auto accidents hurt people – bodily injury is sad fact of the roads.

While insurance can repair, replace and otherwise indemnify (pay back) inanimate objects like cars and trailers in the event of a claim, the unfortunate truth is auto accidents hurt people as well. Indeed, there is probably no more important aspect of auto insurance than the concept of bodily injury coverage.

What Bodily Injury Coverage Does

Similar to related coverages such as medical payments, bodily injury auto liability coverage covers medical expenses incurred by individuals who are injured in an auto accident. The key difference between bodily injury coverage and medical payments is that bodily injury coverage is designed to cover a driver and passengers in an accident who are not found at fault.

Bodily injury coverage is in addition to any health insurance coverage one may have. In addition like other auto liability insurance coverages it doesn’t have a deductible. This property can be useful in claim situation when used in conjunction with health insurance, which often does have a deductible.

Bodily injury coverage is also closely related to personal injury coverage. Indeed the two are often mentioned by insurance agents in the same breath. The main difference is bodily injury coverage is designed to cover actual medical costs, while personal injury coverage often applies to court awards for such things as “pain and suffering” as a result of an auto accident.

Knowing the Limits of Bodily Injury

If your declarations page states your auto insurance liability limits in a standard split limit setup, bodily injury coverage is defined by the first two numbers. As an example, if you carry minimal auto insurance liability coverage of 25/50/15, you have $25,000 in bodily injury coverage for any one person and $50,000 for any group of people in a single claim.

Given how hospital costs can rack up quickly, these limits can easily be maxed out if someone is seriously injured. Many insurance agents recommend carrying bodily injury limits of at least 50/100, or $50,000 in coverage for one person and $100,000 for a group in any claim.

An Umbrella Policy Covers Even More

Many large insurers, so-called “multi-line” companies that sell both home and auto insurance, offer umbrella policies that can be tied in to their auto insurance policies. In essence an umbrella policy is a secondary, catch-all liability policy that kicks in once the limits of its underlying policy are exhausted in a claim.

An umbrella policy, typically offered in units of $1 million, is a relatively inexpensive way to dramatically increase your effective liability limits. It not only works for auto insurance but for other insurance products such as homeowner’s as well. Umbrella policies typically require you to carry certain underlying limits on their auto policies.

Consult your insurance agent for more information.

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Todd Clay

Todd Clay is a former insurance agent with the largest insurance company in the United States. He earned his Bachelor’s from the University of Texas. He's worked in several fields but has specialized in insurance, financial-related information, and technology. He blogs at Car Insurance Guidebook. Connect with Tood on Google+

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