Do I Need Liability Insurance?


UPDATED: OCT 2020 | 3 MIN READ

Liability insurance, also known as third-party insurance, provides coverage in the event that you are responsible for injury/damage to another person or their property. Its main purpose is to provide financial assistance to those who are legally obligated to pay money towards a lawsuit for an incident they were directly responsible for. Personal liability insurance is a standard portion of homeowners insurance and can help cover the high expenses incurred from personal injury or property damage.

Quick Summary

  • Liability insurance provides financial coverage for those held responsible for injury or damage to another person and/or their property. It can provide financial protection from high costs associated with lawsuits, settlements, and legal fees.
  • There are many types of liability insurance designed to deal with varying situations, including general liability, professional liability, and employer liability.
  • In standard homeowners insurance, personal liability policies are designed to protect property owners if a third party is injured on their residence, or an object on their property causes damage to a third party.
  • Liability insurance can only be used for accidental circumstances and do not provide coverage for intentional damage, contractual liabilities, or criminal prosecution.
  • If your liable expenses exceed the limit of your basic homeowners insurance policy, it’s possible to get extra coverage through an umbrella policy.

How Exactly Does Liability Insurance Work?

Liability insurance is essential for those who may be held responsible for injury or damage to another person and/or their property. This can include anyone who owns a business or rental property, practices medicine or law, or owns a car. It works to provide financial protection from the high costs associated with legal settlements, medical bills, legal fees, or lost wages. It benefits those who are actively being sued for any damage/injury that they were directly responsible for causing, but this type of insurance only applies if events occurred unexpectedly/by accident. Provisions of liability insurance do not cover intentional damages, contractual liabilities, and criminal prosecution.

What Are The Many Types of Liability Insurance?

Because liability insurance can be useful for individuals in varying situations, there are many types of liability insurance that are meant to deal with specific circumstances.

General Liability: covers businesses or individuals when faced with claims of property damage, bodily injury, or copyright infringement

Professional Liability: covers business owners or practitioners when errors are made in professional services (i.e. providing inaccurate medical information, filing taxes incorrectly, etc.)

Employer Liability/Workers Comp: covers employees suffering from work-related injuries or illnesses

Product Liability: provides coverage to product manufacturers if their product is faulty and/or causes damage or injury

Umbrella/Excess Liability: provides additional coverage in the event that the claim’s dollar amount exceeds your home or auto insurance limit

What is Homeowners Insurance?

Homeowners insurance is a type of property insurance that covers any damages or losses to a residence. It can be used to cover interior or exterior damage, damage caused to personal belongings or assets, and any injury acquired while on the property.

Personal Liability and Homeowners Insurance

While it’s possible to purchase stand-alone personal liability insurance, most homeowners insurance policies come with a personal liability portion. In standard homeowners insurance, the personal liability policy is designed to protect you against bodily injury or property damage imposed on another person. If someone gets injured on your property or an object on your property causes external damage, liability coverage is there to help. Its purpose to help cover the expenses incurred from any of the following:

Medical Bills

If someone is injured on your property and you/your negligence are found to be the cause, liability insurance will cover the expenses of their medical treatment.

Lost Wages

If someone is injured on your property and their injury prevents them from returning to work, liability insurance will help pay for their lost wages.

Pain & Suffering

If someone is injured in your home and decides to pursue a settlement case for their pain and suffering, liability insurance may help cover the payout you are legally responsible for. 

Death Benefits

While it’s unlikely that an accident on your property will be fatal, liability insurance may cover death benefit payouts to the family of the deceased if they pass away on your property.

Legal Fees

If a lawsuit is filed against you after an incident, liability insurance will assist you in finding a lawyer and will help cover the legal expenses.

Costs of Homeowners Personal Liability

A majority of standard homeowners insurance policies have a liability limit of $300,000 for property damage and bodily injury. It may be possible to increase this limit for an increased premium price, but it depends on your insurance provider. It is generally inexpensive to purchase a higher limit, with those insured only paying between $150-$300 extra per year. Personal liability is considered supplemental coverage and can only be used if your basic policy cannot cover all expenses.

What is Not Covered Under Personal Liability?

Home personal liability insurance has its exclusions when it comes to coverage. Not every incident will be covered, and it’s important to know when those exclusions apply. If you use your home as a place of business, incidents may not be covered by general liability policies and may need to be handled by employer liability insurance. Purposefully inflicted injuries are not covered. Any bodily injury imposed upon you or your family within your home will not be covered by liability insurance.

Alternatives Beyond Personal Liability Coverage

After you’ve reached the limits of your basic home insurance policy, it’s possible to get extra coverage through an umbrella policy. It’s generally sold as separate coverage and will only be sold to you if you already have a personal liability portion of your homeowners insurance. In addition to your standard homeowners policy, umbrella policies will provide coverage for eligible out-of-pocket expenses you are expected to pay. The more financial assets you have, the more likely you are to benefit from umbrella policies.

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