What happens if you are in a car accident that's your fault, and
the property damage exceeds your limits? Are you really left
responsible for the rest?
Yes, if your car insurance liability limits are exceeded, due to
the damages you caused in an auto accident, you can indeed be held
personally responsible for expenses that are not covered.
Your car insurance company will pay up to the limits that you
bought and not a penny more. That is why it's always recommended
that you buy higher limits that what your
, if you are financially able.
State-required minimum bodily injury liability and property
damage liability limits are typically low. If you are in a severe
accident, or hit something rather expensive or are responsible for
damage to multiple cars, then it's very likely that your liability
limits won't be enough to cover all the damages, leaving you
personally responsible. (See
Expensive car, cheap insurance
The industry recommendation for
property damage liability
is at least $50,000 and even higher coverage of up to $100,000 if
offered and you can afford it.
bodily injury liability
, $100,000 per person and $300,000 per incident (written as
100/300) is recommended since medical costs can add up quickly. If
your limits are exceeded, you could be personally responsible for
hundreds of thousands of dollars if you only carry low limits.
You will be notified if your policy limits are exceeded and need
to take action to pay for the remaining expenses.
As the at-fault party, it's your responsibility to see that the
person damaged isn't left paying for your negligence. If you don't
voluntarily pay for the expenses above your limit amount, then the
person can take you to court to get a judgment against you for
If you fail to pay the person after they receive a judgment
against you, they can put a lien against you and your assets. In
some states, the person can also request that your driver's license
be suspended. If that were to happen, you would need to pay the
judgment in full or set up a payment plan, so you could get your