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I have liability car insurance. Does that cover bodily injury liability for the passengers in my car?

Yes, it does. As you probably know, most states require drivers to carry liability car insurance; however, the amount of mandated coverage varies from one state to another.

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Liability coverage limits are written as three numbers:

1.      The first number indicates the maximum liability coverage for bodily injury for one person injured in an accident.

2.      The second number is the bodily injury liability maximum for all injuries in one accident.

3.      The third number is for maximum property damage liability for one accident.

In Idaho, for instance, driver liability coverage must be at least 25/50/15. That's $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 for bodily injury in one accident and $15,000 for property damage liability per accident.

Bodily-injury liability covers others' medical bills and lost wages when you cause an injury accident. Property-damage liability pays to repair or replace property that you destroy. This includes other cars or property, such as fences. It can also pay for "pain and suffering" damages if someone sues you after a car accident--but only up to your liability limits.

Keep in mind that the mandated car insurance liability limits in your state may not be enough to cover you if you cause a serious accident. The Insurance Information Institute recommends carrying at least $100,000 of bodily injury protection per person and $300,000 per accident (known as 100/300).

Your policy must pay medical bills for your passengers regardless of who caused the accident if your state has a "no-fault" auto insurance law.

Although most states require liability coverage, no states require collision and comprehensive coverage. Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle if you're in a car accident, and collision coverage pays for damage caused by something other than a traffic accident, including theft, fire, vandalism, natural disaster or collision with an animal, such as a deer.

For more, see car insurance basics.

Last updated: Feb. 14, 2011
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