Bodily Injury Liability on my Car Insurance

I dare you to work the phrase “bodily injury” into normal conversation. Fortunately, the concept is quite straightforward, even if it does have an uncomfortable ring to it. “Bodily Injury” appears on a car insurance policy in the phrase, “Liability for Bodily Injury – Per Person and Per Accident.” In insurance, “bodily injury” means injury to the physical body of another person. “Liability” essentially means “legal responsibility” for some accident or injury. To put it all together, if you are “responsible” for someone’s injury, you are “liable” for that person’s “bodily injury.”

For example, imagine that while driving you strike another car because you were tailgating. The other driver has a neck injury from the collision. That neck injury is an example of “bodily injury” for which you are “liable.” You are liable for hospital bills to treat the neck, potentially physical therapy bills, and perhaps the driver’s lost wages because he or she is disabled for a time. The insurance company always caps what they will spend, so they have one maximum amount (a “limit”) for each person you may injure in an accident. There is another “limit” for the total injuries caused to all people you injure in the accident, known as the “aggregate limit.”

Understanding “Bodily Injury” may not make you the life of the party, but it does allow you to examine your car insurance with a keener eye! We will start talking about that examination next week.

James Dick, CPCU, AAI