Is 100/300 coverage right for you?
Purchasing car insurance can be confusing, especially when you see a bunch of numbers and aren’t sure what they mean. “100/300” is one of the numbers you’re likely to see when shopping for car insurance. In this article, we’ll explain what 100/300 car insurance means, who should purchase it, which other types of insurance coverage are available, and more.
100/300 refers to the amount of bodily injury liability coverage you have on your car insurance policy. The two numbers represent the following insurance coverage limits:
These coverages apply when you’re at fault for an accident. Your insurance policy will cover up to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident for bodily injuries to other parties. Bodily injury coverage pays for other parties’ medical bills, lost wages, funeral expenses, physical therapy, legal expenses, and more.
In most cases, these coverage limits will appear with a third number at the end, which represents the amount of property damage liability coverage you have.
100/300 bodily injury liability coverage is just one of the many options you’ll have when buying car insurance. Another number you’ll often see is 50/100, which represents $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident of bodily injury liability coverage.
To help you understand the meaning of a 100/300 insurance limit, we should first explain liability insurance. Liability insurance coverage, which most states require, covers damages to other people and property when you’re at fault for an accident.
Liability insurance is broken down into two separate components: bodily injury coverage and property damage coverage.
Liability car insurance is required in most states to protect individuals from financial losses at the hands of another driver. Depending on whether it’s bodily injury or property damage coverage, it ensures that if someone is injured or has their vehicle damaged in an accident someone else caused, the driver who caused the accident will be responsible for those damages.
Depending on your state’s fault laws, it may be only your property damage liability coverage that applies. In an at-fault state, the driver who caused the accident is responsible for both bodily injury and property damage. But in a no-fault state, each driver’s insurance covers their own bodily injuries. And if you are the driver who causes an accident, liability insurance passes the cost of damages onto your insurance company so you aren’t responsible for them out of pocket.
At least some level of liability insurance is required in all but two states. (New Hampshire and Virginia are the states with no car insurance requirement, while Florida and New Jersey require property damage coverage only.) The amount and type of liability coverage you’ll need varies from one state to the next. And while nearly every state requires liability coverage, no state requires 100/300 bodily injury liability coverage limits. In fact, the limits in most states are considerably lower.
The table below shows the bodily injury and property damage liability coverage for each state. As you can see, most states require just $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.
|State||Required bodily injury liability per person||Required bodily injury liability per accident|
|District of Columbia||$25,000||$50,000|
|Florida||Not required||Not required|
|New Hampshire||Not required||Not required|
|New Jersey||Not required||Not required|
|Virginia||Not required||Not required|
When it comes time to sign up for your next car insurance policy, you’ll have to decide just how much bodily injury liability coverage you need. While 100/300 may not be required in any state, there are still some arguments for purchasing that much coverage.
The purpose of bodily injury liability coverage is to pay for other parties’ injuries resulting from an accident you caused. And while 48 states require a minimum amount of coverage, the cost of damages could certainly exceed those liability limits. If the cost exceeds your insurance limits, you’ll have to pay the remaining amount out of pocket.
Healthcare costs have risen dramatically in recent decades. In fact, from 1979 to 2020, healthcare costs in the U.S. rose nearly 669 percent, which comes out to more than 16 percent of the inflation rate per year1.
For example, a single surgery to treat a serious spinal injury can approach $100,000, and that doesn’t even include other medical bills, physical therapy, and lost wages2. As a result, a serious accident could easily result in $100,000 of healthcare costs for a single person. Purchasing higher insurance limits ensures that in the case of a serious accident, your insurance will cover it.
While you might worry that 100/300 is too much coverage, we feel it’s not enough. As we mentioned, a serious accident could easily result in serious injuries with medical expenses and lost wages of $100,000. In fact, the total could exceed that.
Many auto insurance policies offer coverage up to 250/500, meaning $300,000 per person and $500,000 per accident of bodily injury liability coverage. No matter your financial situation, it makes sense to purchase as much coverage as you can afford.
If you have considerable assets and a high net worth, someone could come after you in court for damages above and beyond what your insurance covers. Even if you don’t have the assets to pay for those excess damages, you could have your wages garnished if you owe money after an accident.
Liability coverage is required in almost every state, but it’s not the only car insurance coverage available. Many drivers should consider purchasing full coverage insurance, which includes collision and comprehensive insurance in addition to liability coverage. You can learn more about collision and comprehensive coverage below, as well as a couple of other common types of car insurance coverage.
When you sign up for car insurance, you’ll have the choice of many different types of coverages. Here are a few of the most common options:
You should purchase full coverage auto insurance if you have a valuable vehicle and it would be cost-prohibitive to repair or replace it out of pocket. Even the most careful drivers can find themselves in situations outside of their control, and in those situations, collision and comprehensive insurance can save you a lot of money.
You may also be required to carry full coverage insurance if you are financing or leasing your vehicle. Lenders generally require proof of insurance — including collision and comprehensive insurance — for anyone with an auto loan. In this case, insurance protects not only you, but also the bank that’s financing the vehicle. According to the Insurance Information Institute, about three-quarters of drivers purchase comprehensive and collision insurance in addition to liability insurance3.
Another decision you’ll have to make when you sign up for auto insurance is choosing a deductible. The deductible is the amount you’ll pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. Deductibles on auto insurance often range from $250 to $1,000, and the average is $5004.
An important consideration when choosing your deductible is cost. The lower your deductible is, the higher your premium will be. However, you still want to choose a deductible low enough that you can pay it comfortably if you have to file a claim.
It’s important to note that your deductible doesn’t apply to liability claims. If you cause an accident and there are injuries or property damage, your insurance will cover those up to your policy limits without you having to pay the deductible. The deductible applies to comprehensive and collision claims only.
Another optional car insurance coverage that’s less common is gap insurance. Gap insurance is a popular option for those who have financed their cars. If you’re in an accident and your vehicle is totaled, gap insurance will pay the difference between what your insurance company will pay you for your totaled car and what you owe the bank on the car loan.
Gap insurance isn’t for everyone. You should strongly consider it if you are financing or leasing your vehicle. It’s not necessary if the amount you owe on your car is considerably less than its total value. However, if your car’s value is less than what you owe on the loan, gap insurance may be a good idea.
You don’t necessarily have to purchase gap insurance through your regular auto insurance policy. Many dealerships and lenders also offer this coverage when you purchase your car.
Understanding the different types and coverage limits of auto insurance is critical, as it helps you build the right policy for your needs. Bodily injury liability coverage is required in almost all states. While your state may not require limits as high as 100/300, it may be in your best interest to go that route. To learn more about auto insurance, visit our auto insurance frequently asked questions.
Hill-Burton Free and Reduced-Cost Health Care. HRSA. https://www.hrsa.gov/get-health-care/affordable/hill-burton
How Much Does Back Surgery Cost? Vivek P. Kushwaha, M.D. https://www.drkushwaha.com/education/much-back-surgery-cost/
Facts + Statistics: Auto insurance. III. (2022). https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-auto-insurance
How Do Auto Insurance Deductibles Work?. American Family Insurance. (2022). https://www.amfam.com/resources/articles/understanding-insurance/how-do-deductibles-work