Marissa Hayes is a technical editor and contributing writer. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history, and she was the editor of the literary magazine, The Bluestone Review.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Car Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Jul 19, 2021

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For most accidents, the most damage happens to the vehicles. Minor fender benders do not tend to send folks to the doctor or emergency room and require the services of either a mechanic or body shop. While these property damages can be costly, it is usually minor compared to the overall cost of the vehicle. So, property damage protection on an auto insurance policy is important.

However, probably more vital is bodily injury liability insurance coverage. For many accidents, even those that may appear insignificant, people can get hurt. It could be something as minor as a sore neck or it could be a fatality. It all depends on the severity of the collision. Bodily injury liability insurance is essential to cover the costs of anyone who may get hurt in a car accident: you, your passengers or individuals in another involved vehicle. On average, medical expenses can build rather quickly and can easily cost you more than the price of the car you wrecked.

Serious injuries also tend to invite people to file lawsuits, depending on the laws in the state where you live. If you are the at fault driver in an at fault or tort state, then you are going to be responsible for coverage the medical expenses of every person involved in the crash. If you are in a no fault state, you may only be covering your own medical bills. However, anyone can tell you the cost of that could be just as prohibitive, depending on your injuries.
What would happen to a driver who doesn’t have bodily injury liability insurance coverage?

If medical attention were not sought by any of the parties after the accident, not having this type of coverage would not affect you in any way. Be careful though.

Even collisions that look like there are no injured parties could come back around as many discover painful injuries after the accident has occurred such as whiplash, spinal or neck problems, or broken bones.

Drivers without bodily injury liability coverage would be unable to receive financial assistance with any of their medical bills or with the medical expenses of other involved parties. The state’s laws will determine whether or not you will be responsible for the medical bills of anyone other than yourself.

You could well find yourself responsible for the medical expenses for you, your passengers, and the people in other vehicle(s). This is going to add up quickly, especially if there are long term or serious injuries.

If you don’t possess this type of car insurance coverage, it is possible that other people in the accident will seek legal help to force you to pay for related medical expenses plus time missed from work and pain/suffering compensation.How much bodily injury liability insurance coverage is adequate?

Each state has a set of rules and minimum requirements for bodily injury liability coverage. Almost all of the 50 states require some type of bodily injury coverage and this will vary from state to state. Some states do not force residents to purchase this type of insurance and may simply require that drivers are capable of proving their financial ability to pay any expenses they are responsible for in an accident.

Whether or not the state requires this type of coverage, it is a dangerous move to not purchase the coverage and take the risk of funding someone else’s doctor bills or long term disability needs.

Many car insurance companies divide bodily injury into categories: per person and per accident. This means that the minimums in a state could be as low as $10,000 per person in an accident, and $30,000 per accident. Obviously, this is a low amount and could easily not be enough to cover expenses incurred. Each company also has a cap that could be as high as $200,000 per person and $500,000 per accident.

The more coverage you have, the more protected you will be. However, each driver will need to balance that with how much they can realistically afford as well.

The first step would be to look up the minimum coverage requirements for your state to understand how low you can legally go and then contact your car insurance company and ask for advice. Ask questions such as what they recommend in coverage, keeping in mind they will want to sell you the larger policy.

Also ask what most of their customers average in bodily injury coverage to get an idea of what the typical amount is. Having those numbers will help you decide what the right amount is for you.
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