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Personal liability coverage is included in most homeowners insurance policies. The personal liability portion of your homeowners insurance provides personal injury and property damage coverage. If you hurt someone or damage their property, your homeowners insurance offers financial protection if you're found to be legally liable. Increasing your personal liability coverage limit is typically inexpensive, therefore, we recommend purchasing enough coverage to protect your assets. Otherwise, you may leave yourself exposed to potentially large financial losses.
What is personal liability insurance?
Personal liability insurance covers the costs of a lawsuit if you're sued for injuring someone or destroying someone's property. It is included in most residential insurance policies, including homeowners, renters and condo, and can be purchased as a standalone policy. Filing a claim under your personal liability coverage is similar to filing any other type of insurance claim. We recommend contacting your insurance company as soon as you're aware that you may be responsible for the destruction of property or for someone's bodily injury.
The personal liability coverage in a standard homeowners insurance policy protects you against two things: bodily injury and property damage for which you or residents of your home are responsible. Situations in which you might need personal liability coverage include the following.
Bodily Injury: Say your dog bites a mail carrier on your property, and the carrier has to get medical care and miss work. The mail carrier could choose to sue you for related expenses like medical bills, lost wages and emotional distress. Without personal liability insurance, you'd have to pay out of pocket for the expenses, if you're found to be legally liable.
Property Damage: If a tree that is located on your property falls over during a thunderstorm and damages your neighbor's roof, you could be responsible for the property damage. Your neighbor could then choose to pursue legal action against you in an effort to receive financial compensation for the damage to their roof. Once again, without personal liability insurance, you'd be solely responsible for paying for the damage.
While those situations took place inside your property, bodily injury and property damage protection extends to you and members of your household outside of your home.
Personal liability coverage would not apply in a car accident. In that scenario, you'd need a car insurance policy with bodily injury protection and property damage coverage.
Does homeowners insurance cover personal injury?
Homeowners insurance covers personal injuries as long as your policy includes personal liability coverage, and most policies do. However, not every injury will be covered by your personal liability insurance. The only injuries covered are those that result from negligence on your part. Therefore, intentional acts aren't covered by your personal liability insurance. Furthermore, your personal liability insurance only applies to others, while any injuries of your own would be covered under health insurance.
How much personal liability coverage should you have?
The more financial assets you have, the more liability coverage you should purchase. Your liability coverage limit should be as high as you can afford, to mitigate the risk of financial loss if someone were to sue you.
|Personal Liability Coverage||$100,000|
|Personal Injury or Property Damage Claim Brought Against You||($400,000)|
|Recoverable From Personal Assets||$300,000|
If you have assets of $100,000 or more, consider purchasing an umbrella policy or personal excess liability insurance. Both serve as a form of supplemental coverage with a higher limit.
In other words, an umbrella policy and personal excess liability insurance kick in after exhausting your homeowners coverage limits. An umbrella policy provides broader coverage, while personal excess liability insurance adds coverage to the underlying policy.
In the scenario above, an umbrella policy or personal excess liability insurance would kick in for the remaining $300,000, safeguarding your assets. Keep in mind that coverage limits will depend on your specific policy.
Home insurance personal liability: how much does it cost?
It's relatively inexpensive to purchase a higher limit for personal liability coverage. This is especially true compared to other homeowners insurance modifications, like increasing dwelling coverage. The table below outlines the cost of increasing your personal liability coverage limits on a sample home with a $200,000 policy with State Farm.
Personal Liability Coverage
Annual Homeowners Insurance Rate
Cost of Increased Coverage
Based on our sample, tripling your personal liability coverage only costs $15 more per year. Keep in mind that the exact amount will change depending on your home's location, among other factors. That said, you shouldn't receive a drastic increase in rates when increasing your personal liability coverage limits.
Even though umbrella policies provide much higher coverage limits, the cost for personal umbrella liability policies remains low. You can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $300 per year for $1 million of coverage from a personal umbrella liability policy. Keep in mind that a personal umbrella policy provides supplemental coverage, meaning it goes into effect after exhausting your homeowners or auto insurance policy.