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Three numbers on your auto insurance — for basic coverage that would be 15/30/5 — indicate your level of coverage should you be involved in an accident. The first number represents the maximum amount your insurance will pay out for bodily injury to a single person in a car accident. The second number is the total maximum amount your insurance will pay out for bodily injury if multiple people are hurt in a car accident.
Many drivers believe carrying the minimum limits required by California law is adequate. Some people believe buying an insurance policy means you are “covered.” Sadly, they find out, often too late, that there are limits to their coverage. For example, the 15 and 30 for bodily injury coverage.
A basic auto insurance policy (besides a Low Cost Auto Policy) will cover $15,000 of medical expenses for one person injured in a crash caused by you. That same minimum policy will cover expenses totaling $30,000 for everyone injured in the accident. That’s it.
According to a 2013 report by Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Institute (www.rmiia.org). the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $15,443. That means you would be on the hook for about $500 if there was only one injury. Two injuries with minimum coverage will take $1,000 out of your pocket. Remember this is an average. In our whiplash society filled with personal injury lawyers happy to exploit what they hope is a lawsuit lotto.
Sit down with your insurance professional and look at what coverages you have. Think about what you could potentially be liable for above what your policies cover and how you can lessen the impact should you need to file a claim.