What is Liability Insurance

What is Liability Insurance? Liability insurance is the coverage that would protect if you caused an accident that injured someone else or caused damage to their property. Auto liability insurance is broken down into bodily injury coverage and property damage coverage. What Does Liability Insurance Cover? Imagine you are driving down a residential road and don’t realize there is a stop sign ahead. You try to hit the brakes to stop before you get through the intersection, but wind up hitting a car in front of you as well as the fence of the house on the corner. Your bodily injury liability insurance would cover any injuries that the other driver experienced as a result of the accident. Your property damage liability insurance would cover the damage to the vehicle you hit and the homeowner’s fence. Liability insurance would also help to cover any legal fees if either the driver or the homeowner sued you after the accident. What Isn’t Covered Under Liability Car Insurance? While liability insurance will cover any injuries or property damage that you inflict on another person, it will not cover any of your personal injuries or damage to your vehicle. In order to have protection for your vehicle you would have to add collision and comprehensive coverage to your policy. If you would like to have coverage for your medical expenses you should consider adding personal injury protection or medical payments coverage. Liability Insurance Coverage Limits When you purchase your insurance policy you will select limits for each coverage option. Limits are the most your insurance company will pay out for a covered claim. Most states require that drivers have some form of liability coverage, but the required minimum limits vary in each state. Car insurance companies typically combine bodily injury limits and property damage limits together so you may not have a choice when it comes to individual limits. You will often see them expressed as 15/25/10, 100/300/100 or 250/500/100, among others. It is important to know what each of these numbers mean before you select a policy without enough protection. For example, the limits of 100/300/100 are broken down as: $100,000 for bodily injury, per person $300,000 for total bodily injury $100,000 for property damage In the event of a claim if you selected these limits your policy would pay a total of $100,000 for each person’s medical expenses. If more than one person was injured in the accident, the maximum your policy would pay out is $300,000. Additionally, the maximum your policy would cover in property damage is $100,000. How Do I Know if I Have Enough Auto Liability Insurance? While most states have minimum required coverage limits, it is important to remember that the minimums may not be enough to protect you. For example, imagine you had the minimum limits in the state of California (15/30/5) and you caused an accident that totaled a new car and injured three people. If each of the people had $15,000 in medical bills ($45,000 total) and the car was worth $20,000 your policy would only pay $30,000 for the medical bills and $5,000 for the property damage, leaving you responsible for the remaining $30,000. The last thing you want to do is end up in debt after getting into an accident because you didn’t have adequate liability auto insurance. Check your policy to be sure you have the right coverage to protect your assets.

Insurance terms: 

Insurance Terms Dictionary
Agent: In insurance, the person authorized to represent the insurer in negotiating, servicing, or effecting insurance policies.

Applicant: The party applying for an insurance policy.

Application: A printed form developed by an insurer that includes questions about the prospective insured and the desired insurance coverage and limits.

Auto Collision Coverage: Optional auto insurance which pays for damage to your car caused by collision with another car or object, or by rolling the car over. Frequently required if you have a car loan.

Auto Comprehensive Physical Damage Coverage: Optional auto insurance which pays for damage to your auto caused by things other than collision or rolling the car over, such as fire, theft, vandalism, flood or hail. Frequently required if you have a car loan.

Bodily Injury Liability Coverage: Pays when an insured person is legally liable for bodily injury or death caused by your vehicle or your operation of most non-owned vehicles. This coverage also pays for your legal defense if you are sued.

Claim: A person's request for payment from an insurer for a loss covered by the insurance policy.

Collision Coverage: Pays for loss to your covered vehicle when it collides with another object or overturns. We will also pay for a collision loss to any non-owned vehicle, or to a vehicle you have rented other than a vehicle rented for use in connection with your business or employment, while that vehicle is in your custody, or while you are operating it.

Comprehensive Coverage: Pays for loss or damage to your covered vehicle caused by any event other than collision. This includes damages due to events such as fire, theft, windstorm, flood, and vandalism. We will also pay transportation and loss of use expenses under this coverage if your motor vehicle is stolen.

Conditions: The part of your insurance policy that states the obligations of the person insured and those of the insurance company.

Continuously Insured: Insurance coverage was in effect from an insurer or more than one insurer at all times, without a break or lapse in coverage for any reason.

Contract: A legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties.

Declarations Page: The report from your insurance company listing:

the types of coverage you have elected;
the limit for each coverage;
the cost for each coverage;
the specified vehicles covered by the policy;
the types of coverage for each vehicle covered by the policy; and other information applicable to the policy.
Deductibles: The portion of the loss that the policyholder agrees to pay out of pocket, before the insurance company pays the amount they are obligated to cover. For example, if the covered claim is $1000 and your deductible is $250, you pay $250 and your company will pay $750. Deductibles help to keep insurance rates reasonable. Raising the amount of the deductible lowers the cost of insurance.

Depreciation: Reduction in the value of property due to age and use.

Endorsement: Attachment or addendum to an insurance policy; an endorsement changes the contract's original terms.

Garaging Location: The ZIP code where your vehicle is parked when not in use and usually corresponds to your primary residence.

Insurance Company: An organization that has been chartered by a governmental entity to transact the business of insurance.

Insured: The person whose insurable interest is protected under an insurance policy.

Insurer: See Insurance Company.

Lapse: Termination of a policy due to nonpayment of premiums.

Liability: A legal obligation to compensate a person harmed by another's acts or omissions.

Liability Coverage: Insurance that provides compensation for a harm or wrong to a third party for which an insured is legally obligated to pay.

Life Insurance: Insurance that pays a specified sum of money to designated beneficiaries if the insured person dies during the policy term.

Limits: The most we will pay for a specific insurance coverage. You may choose the limit which meets your needs. Most states have laws that specify the minimum limits you must purchase.

Loss: A claim either paid or payable due to the insurer's policy obligations.

Medical Payments Coverage: Medical and funeral expense coverage for bodily injuries sustained from or while occupying an insured vehicle, regardless of the insured's negligence.

Named Insured: The first person in whose name the insurance policy is issued.

Negligence: Failure to use a generally acceptable level of care and caution.

No-fault Insurance: A system of compensation enacted by law in many states under which indemnification is made by the insured's own insurance company regardless of who is at fault. Details of this system vary significantly from state to state.

Occasional Driver: The person who is not the primary or principal driver of the vehicle.

Peril: The cause of loss or damage.

Personal Property Insurance: Protects against the loss of, or damage to property other than real property (real estate) caused by specific perils.

Policy Expiration Date: The date when your current insurance policy expires. This date can be found on your current policy, Declaration (or "DEC") page, insurance identification card or recent cancellation notice. This date is not to be confused with the date of your next payment or when your renewal payment is due.

Policy Term: The length of time that the policy is in force. Usually 6 months or a year.

Primary Residence: The place where you will reside for the majority of your policy term. If you are a homeowner who does not reside in the home you own, please choose the "rent" or "other" option.

Primary Use: What your vehicle is mainly used for:

To/From Work If you use your vehicle to commute to and from your work and/or school.
Business If your vehicle is used for one or all of the following:
used to make sales calls
used as vehicle for business trips to bank or post office, picking up supplies, going to different locations
owned or leased by a partnership or corporation that have a business listed as and additional interest on the car
Farm If your vehicle is used primarily on a farm, ranch or orchard
Pleasure No others apply

Policy: The written forms that make up the insurance contract between an insured and insurer. A policy includes the terms and conditions of the coverage, the perils insured or excluded, etc.

Policy Declarations: The part of the insurance contract that lists basic underwriting information, including the insured's name, address and description of insured locations as well as policy limits.

Policy Limits: The maximum amount an insured may collect or for which an insured is protected, under the terms of the policy.

Policyholder: The person who buys insurance.

Policyowner: An individual with an ownership interest in an insurance policy.

Policy Period: The amount of time an insurance contract or policy lasts.

Premium: The price for insurance coverage as described in the insurance policy for a specific period of time.

Principal Driver: The person who drives the car most often.

Proof of Loss: A sworn statement that usually must be furnished by the insured to an insurer before any loss under a policy may be paid.

Property Damage Liability Coverage: Pays when an insured person is legally liable for damage to the property of others caused by your vehicle or your operation of most non-owned vehicles. This coverage also pays for your legal defense costs if you are sued.

Reimbursement: The payment of an amount of money by an insurance policy for a covered loss that was initially paid by the insured or a third party.

Reinstatement: The process by which a insurance company puts back in force a policy that has lapsed or has been canceled for nonpayment of premium.

Riders: An addition to an insurance policy that becomes a part of the contract.

Risk: The possibility or chance of loss or injury.

Second Named Insured: The named insured or listed agent on a policy may request to designate any other person listed on the policy as a "second named insured". The second named insured has the same coverage under the policy as the named insured.

Settlement: An agreement between a claimant to an insurance policy and the insurance company regarding the amount and method of a claim or benefit payment.

Theft Limit (or Inside Policy Limits): The highest amount an insurance company will pay on certain items of personal property. For instance, some policies have a $5,000 limit for computers.

Underwriting: The process of reviewing applications for coverage. Applications that are accepted are then classified by the underwriter according to the type and degree of risk.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Coverage that pays for covered damage for bodily injury that an uninsured motorist is legally liable but unable to pay.

VIN: The vehicle identification number (VIN) on your vehicle. This number is usually found on the dashboard of your vehicle on the driver's side, and is usually listed on the vehicle registration and title. The VIN number is a combination of letters and numbers 17 characters in length that can be used to identify the make, model, and year of your car.