What You Need to Know about Bodily Injury Coverage
Any type of collision can cause physical injury to you and others involved in the accident. You, your passengers, and those in the other vehicle can all be harmed. Even relatively minor injuries can cost a significant amount of money to treat. And if multiple people are injured in an accident when you are liable, your financial security may be at risk - especially if you don't have the right auto insurance coverage.
As a licensed driver in the United States, you must carry at least the state-mandated amount of bodily injury insurance. If you are liable in an accident that injures others, this type of policy helps cover their medical expenses as well as other costs related to the incident. Although you legally only have to carry a minimal amount of insurance, you would be wise to carry a much higher amount.
What Does Bodily Injury Insurance Cover?
Your BI will cover part of the short and long-term medical costs suffered by injured passengers or bystanders. The amount of coverage will depend on the size of your policy. Your BI may also reimburse the victims for loss of income as well as pay for your legal fees if the injured parties sue you. If the accident results in a fatality, BI will also cover at least part of the funeral expenses.
Some injuries are not immediately apparent after an accident and others require long-term treatment. So even if your coverage initially seems sufficient, the medical costs frequently add up as the weeks, months and even years go by. That's why you want to err on the side of caution when you choose your liability amounts.
How Much BI Do You Need?
Each state, with the exceptions of New Hampshire and Virginia, require you to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance for both property and injury. The injury coverage requirement in most states is around $20,000 - $30,000 BI for one person and $50,000 for all people injured in the same accident. The property portion is usually $25,000.
When you carry the minimum amount, you are leaving yourself open to lawsuits since your insurance is unlikely to cover large medical bills. The bill for a severely injured person could be in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Many experts recommend that you carry at least $100,000 BI for one injured person and a $300,000 accident limit. Increasing your coverage is not that expensive, particularly when you consider the alternative. You do not want to be financially ruined due to a collision. It's worth the extra money to buy as much protection as you can afford.
Some insurance companies in the United States offer single-limit coverage. These are policies that offer a lump-sum liability amount for each accident that covers both bodily injury and property damage.
How Do You Make a BI Claim?
If you are injured in an accident caused by the other driver, you will need to file a claim with their insurance company. Your own insurance company can advise you on this process. In all instances of injury, you will need to seek medical treatment and make sure that all of your care is carefully documented.
You will then have to deal with an insurance adjuster, who will decide whether to accept or deny your claim and also put a value on it. You may well want to hire an attorney to help you with the claim process. Remember, the adjuster's job is to save money for their employer. To protect yourself, all of your documentation needs to be in order, something a legal representative can ensure.
In most instances, the insurance company will want to settle with you and avoid court proceedings. You may find it necessary to sue, however.
Of course, this process works the same in reverse. If you injure someone in an accident, they will file a claim against your company, and the negotiations will begin. If the case goes to court, your BI policy may cover some of your personal legal costs.
How Can You Lower Your Insurance Bill?
Comparison shopping is the single best way to lower your insurance bill, and sites like autoinsurance.com make it incredibly simple. Autoinsurance.com lets you compare quotes from leaders in the insurance field so that you never pay more than you should. You only need to fill in some basic information to instantly receive a number of quotes. The process is simple and completely free.
Not only can you compare prices among different providers; you can compare different policies from a single insurance company. You'll also get help finding discounts, understanding your coverage options, and meeting state insurance requirements. It's the easiest way you'll find to save money and get the insurance coverage you need, including bodily injury.
When it comes to auto insurance, you can't afford to have too little coverage. A single mishap at a traffic light or out on the highway can lead to exorbitant medical bills from those who were physically injured. Make certain that you are investing in enough coverage to protect you and your family in case of an accident.