If your liability insurance coverage level is too low, your assets could be at risk.
Simply put — you need as much liability insurance as you can afford. Selecting the bare minimum state limit leaves you vulnerable in the event you exceed your liability limits. If you exceed your liability coverage after an at-fault accident, you are legally responsible for the remaining damages to the other party.
In order to protect your assets, keep your liability coverage at or above 100/300/100. Let’s explore what these numbers mean, and how much liability coverage will cost with popular car insurance companies.
First off, it's important for you to understand the term limit and what it means for your insurance coverage. In short, an insurance limit is the maximum amount that your insurance company will pay to cover a claim. If the cost of a claim goes beyond this limit, it is up to you to make up the difference. Almost every state sets minimum insurance requirements that drivers must adhere to, but these numbers are rarely enough to fully protect you and your assets. Most carriers allow you to increase these coverage limits for a small increase in your insurance rates, which most experts highly recommend.
Using a methodology outlined here, we compared rates for liability-only auto insurance by coverage levels.
USAA is the cheapest across the board for liability-only car insurance at all coverage levels. If you do not qualify for USAA, GEICO is the second-cheapest option. Depending on your individual driving profile, your premium could vary. Use our rates as estimates and begin your search for liability insurance with USAA and GEICO.
Although carrying high liability limits costs more, it can save you money in the long run. Not only will exceeding your limits leave you responsible for any additional costs, but a history of low coverage is also considered a risky driving factor by insurance companies. Any time your insurance company views you as a potentially risky client, you can expect a higher premium as a result.
Next, we'll examine how your rate will change if you opt for collision and comprehensive coverage on top of your required liability insurance. Adding these physical coverages is what comprises full coverage. The user profile in the following analysis has a $1,000 deductible.
|Insurance Provider||State Minimum Liability w/ Comp-Coll||50/100/50 BI-PD Liability w/ Comp-Coll||100/300/100 BI-PD Liability w/ Comp-Coll|
On average, expect your rate to increase by about 56% if you add comprehensive and collision coverages to your policy. Liability-only policies tend to be the cheapest for a reason — because it doesn't protect you or your own vehicle if you're involved in an accident.
USAA and GEICO are again the cheapest insurance companies for full coverage insurance. However, our user profile likely won't reflect your own. See how much you could be paying for auto insurance by entering your ZIP code below.
Liability insurance is the only state-mandated car insurance coverage. It covers damage you cause to other drivers — both to their property and any related medical expenses. Unless you live in a no-fault state, you must be determined at-fault or partially at-fault in order for your liability coverage to apply. Unlike collision and comprehensive coverages, there is no deductible for liability coverage.
Most often, liability coverage will look something like 50/100/50. This refers to the maximum dollar amount covered by your insurance, broken down by specific coverage type.
$50,000 total in medical coverage per person in the collision
$100,000 total for the incident in bodily injury coverage
$50,000 in total property damage coverage
If you cause $57,000 in property damage and your limit is $50,000, you are responsible for covering the remaining damage out-of-pocket. If you do not pay, you can be sued. Your insurance company is only liable up to the limit dictated by your policy.
Because of this, you should keep your liability limits as high as you can afford. Most experts recommend purchasing liability (or excess insurance via an umbrella insurance policy) in an amount equal to your net worth.
The highest commonly available liability limits are 250/500/250. An umbrella policy can have a maximum additional liability limit of 5 million.
Other reasons exist to increase your liability limits. Below are some considerations to keep in mind when determining how much liability insurance you need:
Different policies and companies can structure their liability limits differently. A per-occurrence limit is the most your policy will pay after one occurrence. For example, if you have a per-occurrence limit of $50,000, that is all you will receive after an at-fault accident for the other driver’s bodily injury and property damage.
A split limit policy is more common and is what we described above. You will have separate amounts of coverage for your property damage and bodily injury. Generally, a split limit policy is more recommended that a per occurrence policy.
Getting the right liability insurance is important not only for staying legal, but also for keeping you properly protected. Increasing your liability coverage is a good way to ensure you don't get stuck with an unwanted bill. If you are worried about the costs of increasing your coverage, your best option could be to shop around for a new policy. The Zebra can help you get insurance quotes from a number of top carriers, allowing you to find the right policy for your needs.
If you’re looking for more information related to car insurance, see our additional articles below.