Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, research investigative pieces…

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states…

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Reviewed byRachael Brennan
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UPDATED: Sep 29, 2020

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There are a lot of auto insurance coverage options, but one kind is rarely optional: liability insurance.

So what is automobile liability coverage? Well, having automobile liability coverage on your auto insurance policy is required by law in pretty much every state. The only exception is Massachusetts, where you don’t technically have to have auto insurance, just proof you can pay in the event that you cause an accident. This type of coverage ensures that, if you are deemed at fault in an accident, you (or your insurance provider) can pay for damages caused by your negligent driving.

If you’re looking for a quote for auto liability insurance you can search using our FREE comparison tool above.

What Does Liability Automobile Insurance Coverage Do for You?

Liability insurance can be divided into two sub-groups:

  • Bodily Injury Liability: Covers medical expenses, pain & suffering, lost wages, and other special damages.
  • Property Damage Liability: Covers damaged property, possibly including loss of use.

For example, if you hit another driver and they sustain a physical injury, your Bodily Injury Liability coverage would pay for that claim. Or if you hit another vehicle from behind and damage their rear bumper, your Property Damage Liability coverage would take care of it. Liability coverage can also be put toward covering your legal defense fees and court fees in the event that you are sued.

Just remember that your Liability Coverage limits are the maximum dollar amounts that your insurance company will pay out on a claim. And if all you get are the state mandatory minimums and you are found at fault in a serious accident, you could be held financially liable for the difference. For example, if you total a $35,000 car but your Liability limits are set at $25,000, you might end up paying that remaining $10,000 out of pocket.

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Choosing the Amount of Coverage that Is Right for Me

So how much auto liability coverage do you need?

Different states have different mandatory minimum limits for Liability insurance. Some requirements are so low that you won’t be required to carry any Bodily Injury Liability, and a mere $10,000 in Property Damage Liability. Most states, however, have a 25/50/25 requirement (as in $25,000/$50,000) in order to drive legally.

But the best way to know how much Liability coverage you need is to sit down with your insurance agent and discuss the details of your policy. However, you should not be surprised if your agent suggests you protect yourself with 100/300/100 Liability coverage, since that is a pretty universal amount of coverage which most drivers choose to purchase (assuming they can afford it, that is).

Liability Auto Insurance Rates Legend: State Minimum Liability Coverage Recommended Liability Coverage Limits Maximum Liability Coverage California Texas Illinois Florida New York 15 30 45 60 75 90 105 120 135 150 165 $35 $45 $136 $38 $103 $128 $19 $23 $75 $72 $96 $179 $63 $78 $157

Specifically, a 100/300/100 Liability policy covers the following:

  • Up to $100,000 for bodily injury per person
  • Up to $300,000 for bodily injury per accident
  • Up to $100,000 for property damage per accident

While purchasing the minimum for liability insurance can be cheaper, take into consideration the intangible cost of peace of mind. With hospital fees, lawyer fees, and court fees being as expensive as they are, you’ll be less nervous behind the wheel if you can drive with the confidence that your insurance policy has you covered.

Lastly, there are special high-limit policies called “Umbrella” insurance policies that go above and beyond the 100/300/100 suggestions made by most insurance companies. Some of these umbrella policies can cover you for as much as $5 million if you are somehow found liable for the damage or destruction of your home, your automobile, or your watercraft vehicle. If you happen to exceed the coverage limits on your regular Liability coverage, then having an umbrella policy could save you from financial ruin.

Which level of liability insurance is right for you? Compare FREE insurance quotes with our online tool.