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Liability: Bodily Injury & Property Damage

Mandatory Liability Coverage Minimums
What Do The Numbers Mean on My Liability Policy?
What is Single Limit Liability?
How Much Liability Insurance Should I Have?
Is "No-Fault" Insurance the Same as Liability?
What Should I Do After an Accident?
What is a Third Party Claim?
What is a Release For Damages?
How Long Can I Take to Decide on a Final Settlement?
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1. Mandatory Liability Coverage Minimums
Most states require drivers to carry vehicle liability coverage. There are two basic types, bodily injury and property damage. Every state requires its own minimum accident liability coverage, but if you only carry the minimums the coverage may not be enough in some cases. Did you know your accident liability may include medical bills plus lost wages? If you thought only the medical bills were covered, take another look at your insurance policy. Drivers carrying only the minimums should consider raising coverage amounts--bodily injury claims can be costly even without a lawyer's involvement. Ask your insurance agent for a realistic assessment of your current insurance policy and where you may need to increase coverage to protect yourself in case of an accident. Top

2. What Do The Numbers Mean on My Liability Policy?
On car insurance quotes, you will see three numbers listed as part of a liability policy. If you get an online insurance quote for a 50/100/25 liability policy, the numbers break down very simply. Each number is a dollar amount. The online insurance quote for a 50/100/25 policy means $50,000 max per person of coverage for bodily injury you cause to each person, subject to $100,000 cap per accident, and $25,000 to cover property damage you cause, usually to the other car that you strike.

When you look for online insurance quotes, be sure to know the minimum required coverages in your state and plan accordingly. When trying to set your coverage amounts, remember that an accident can damage more than a single vehicle. Ask your insurance agent about how expensive the average liability claim can be and whether your coverage is sufficient to keep you from suffering financially after an accident. Top

3. What is Single Limit Liability?
Split limit liability is just one kind of liability insurance you'll find when searching for insurance quotes online. The three numbers represent three separate coverage limits, so when you see 50/100/25 you will know the coverage limits for each part of the policy.

Did you know there is a single limit option? When searching for car insurance quotes, be sure to see if a single limit policy is available in your state. Single limit liability insurance gives you one maximum amount that can be used to pay any part of a liability policy. Car insurance claims with no bodily injury, but a high amount of property damage is one example of how a single limit policy can be helpful. The whole coverage amount could be used to pay the property damage. If you carry $200,000, the entire amount is available to pay however necessary. Top

4. How Much Liability Insurance Should I Have?
Many people wonder how much insurance is enough to protect them from accident liability claims, lawsuits or other expenses that can arise in the wake of an accident. It's not enough to carry only what you think car insurance claims might cover if you want to truly protect yourself. Consider the variables in any accident scenario and you'll realize there is much more potential for damage to people and property than the state minimum can protect against. Some insurance experts believe drivers should carry $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident in total bodily injury liability coverage and $100,000 in property damage insurance. When searching for car insurance quotes online, try comparing the prices of these limits compared with the prices for the state minimums, and look for the most competitive rate for both. Top

5. Is "No-Fault" Insurance the Same as Liability?
Some states are designated as "no-fault" insurance states. The definition varies from state to state, but the basic idea is that accident liability is not the issue when it comes to paying car insurance claims. In many cases your own insurance pays you for medical expenses and other claims, and state law may prohibit you from suing the other driver unless specific circumstances apply. For no-fault insurance, carrying enough coverage to protect yourself is even more important as you won't get paid by the other driver's insurance company in many cases.

No-fault insurance can be complicated and it's a very good idea to talk with an insurance representative for a thorough explanation of how the policy works in detail. You should still look for competitive automobile insurance rates online, just be sure you understand your rights, responsibilities, and limitations under a no-fault policy. No-fault insurance is not the same as liability insurance for the simple reason that the policy pays only you or your insured drivers, it does not cover the injuries of other drivers involved in an accident. Top

6. What Should I Do After an Accident?
If you are involved in an accident it is very important to take a number of steps that will help you when it comes time to file a car insurance claim. The first step is to call the police and file an accident report. Do not make statements about fault. These could hurt your claim later. Simply state the facts about what happened as you are able to recall them. Let the insurance company and the authorities make the determination about who was at fault unless you are certain you did not cause the accident. It's also very important not to leave the scene of the accident. Have a third party call the police on your behalf instead of leaving the scene.

To help you file car insurance claims, it's a very good idea to take pictures of the accident and any damage to your vehicle, and the other car. Your photographic evidence can be used to disprove exaggerated liability insurance claims by another driver later on. Use a camera phone or a digital camera if possible. It's also a good idea to write down a narrative of the accident as soon as you can to use to help you remember details you might need later with the automobile insurance paperwork. Top

7. What is a Third Party Claim?
State laws governing car insurance claims vary, but in many states you can file a third party claim after an accident. A third party claim is one you file with the other driver's insurance company after the accident. The other driver's insurance company will investigate your third party claim to see if they are legally liable, and you will be required to give the details of the accident to the other insurance company. In many accident liability cases, you may deserve the compensation you get from a third party car insurance claim, but there is a catch.

You may be able to settle the property damage issues right away, but your bodily injury claims could be ongoing because of a series of treatments or continuous care in the wake of an accident. An outstanding bodily injury claim may take some time to settle. It's important to know the laws in your state; many states make it illegal for car insurance claims for property damage to be held up pending settlement of a bodily injury claim. Top

8. What is a Release For Damages?
When you file a third party car insurance claim after an accident, your claim is investigated and if approved you will be paid based on the other driver's vehicle liability coverage. Many states allow the company to offer payment contingent on you signing a document called a release for damages. This is your agreement to accept the payment from the car insurance claim, and that the payment is the final amount. In most cases this will preclude you suing the driver later on if you decide the compensation wasn't enough.

It's very important to carefully examine the amount of the settlement on your car insurance claim. Bodily injury claims, once settled, won't include additional payments for medical complications as the result of an accident. Are you being fairly compensated for your medical expenses and other needs? If so, you may feel safer in signing a release for damages than if you have continuing treatments that cost more than what you are being offered. If you feel you aren't being offered what you are due, it's best to consult a legal expert before making a decision on signing the release. Top

9. How Long Can I Take to Decide on a Final Settlement?
Many states have a time limit on your decision to accept or reject a settlement on your third party car insurance claim. In Illinois, for example, you have two years to accept or reject a bodily injury claim and five years for a property damage claim. Some states allow additional time if the driver was under 18 years old when the accident happened. Depending on your state, you may also have a limit on when you can file a lawsuit if you reject the car insurance claim. If you do not accept the car insurance settlement or file a lawsuit within the specified time, you may not receive any compensation at all. It's very important to consult with a lawyer immediately if you think you should reject the offer made on a bodily injury claim or property damage claim. Don't try to navigate the legal system without expert advice. Top

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