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What is PLPD insurance?

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PLPD insurance stands for personal liability and property damage insurance, often just shortened to “liability insurance.” It forms the backbone of your auto insurance policy and is required in all but two states (Maryland & New Hampshire are the odd states out, but strongly suggests having it as well). In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what PLPD insurance does, and how much is recommended.

What is PLPD insurance?

Your car insurance is made up of several elements which cover different aspects of insurance. These include:

The first two of these items make up personal liability and property damage (PLPD) insurance, or liability insurance. Liability is the legal term that means you are responsible for something — so bodily injury liability refers to your responsibility to pay for the costs associated with an injury that you caused another person while driving.

Bodily Injury Liability

To explain in practical terms, bodily injury liability coverage will pay for the medical expenses of any others involved in the accident, such as emergency room care and doctor’s fees associated with the accident. It may also cover follow-up visits, medical equipment, and other aspects of medical care. 

It also accounts for any legal fees resulting from a lawsuit for pain and suffering. Lastly, it may pay for loss of income, or funeral costs if incurred. It’s important to note that all these costs are limited by the amount of coverage your policy includes.

Property damage liability

Property damage liability would pay to repair the other person’s car if it is damaged in an accident in which you are found at-fault. It will also pay for damage to other property, such as fences, light poles, trees or buildings. As with bodily injury, your coverage is limited to the amount you agreed on when you purchased your policy.

Other coverage types

Personal liability is one of many other types of insurance that can protect you against significant financial loss from damage or injury. Here are a few other types of coverage you may find helpful:

  • Homeowners insurance: covers your home and its contents against damages incurred by natural or man-made events. Includes liability coverage to protect you against lawsuits if someone is injured at your home.
  • Renters insurance: similar to homeowners insurance, this type of coverage protects your belongings, but not the structure, which would be covered by your landlord’s policy.
  • Travel health insurance: There’s a lot that can happen to you while you’re traveling; this type of temporary policy covers you for injuries, medical evacuation, trip cancellation and property damage/theft.
  • Business insurance: If you own a business, this is a policy that protects you from risks  such as property or vehicle damage, lost income, liability and workers compensation.

What does PLPD cover?

Personal liability and property damage insurance covers the majority of costs associated with an accident — at least for the other driver and car. It covers medical costs for the other driver or passengers if injured, legal costs if they sue, and damages to their car if there are any. In addition, damages that might result from a one-car accident — for example, if you swerved off the road and ran into a store front, PLPD would pay for the repairs.

What PLPD does not cover is anything related to yourself, your passengers, or your own car. Those costs would be only covered if you had optional collision and comprehensive coverage, or if you carried PIP, MedPay, or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. In addition, all payouts with PLPD are limited by predetermined caps.

How much PLPD insurance is required

Every state except New Hampshire and Maryland require you to carry liability insurance. The amount you carry is written as a series of three numbers, such as 25/50/25. These numbers mean that you have:

  • $25,000 — the maximum your policy will pay per person for bodily injury liability
  • $50,000 — the maximum for bodily injury for all persons in one accident
  • $25,000 — your maximum coverage for property damage liability.

For example, in Delaware, you have a minimum requirement to carry 25/50/10 — while in North Carolina, the minimum required is 30/60/25. Although your state will have a minimum requirement, it may be a good idea to carry more than the minimum to adequately protect you, since costs can mount up quickly in an accident.

Let’s say you live in Pennsylvania and have the state’s minimum required coverage, which is 15/30/5. You pull out too quickly from a side road and cause an accident, and the other driver ends up in the hospital with a multiple fracture of their shoulder. Medical costs could quickly exceed the $15,000 you have covered by your policy and once that limit is reached, you’d be out of pocket for anything above that amount.

How to get PLPD insurance?

You’ll need personal liability and property damage insurance to drive legally, so you should arrange to purchase a policy as soon as you acquire the car you plan to drive. We recommend contacting several companies for quotes — or use online quote tools — to find out what to expect for the cost of coverage. Then either talk to an agent to apply, or purchase the policy online. A few companies we recommend for PLPD coverage include:

  • State Farm: the largest writer of auto insurance policies in the country, State Farm controls more than 16% of the market and offers comprehensive policies with solid PLPD coverage.
  • Amica: Amica is ranked fourth for customer service in the U.S., according to J.D. Power’s 2021 Overall Customer Satisfaction Index. 
  • Allstate: known for offering numerous discounts that allow you to save significantly on your premium costs, Allstate also has good customization options, such as new car replacement insurance.
  • GEICO: Geico has earned a reputation for low prices, and the company ranks highly for customer service in the J.D. Power survey.
  • USAA: If you’re a current or former member of the military, USAA should be your first stop for solid PLPD coverage, great prices, and comprehensive support.

The takeaway

Personal liability and property damage insurance, or liability insurance, is the central component in most car insurance policies. It provides a base level of essential protection against damage and medical costs resulting from a car accident.

  • PLPD insurance is required in most U.S. states, but varies in percentages required.
  • It covers medical and legal costs and property damage incurred by the other driver and car.
  • State minimums are not always enough to protect you in the case of an expensive accident.
  • Most top insurers offer PLPD insurance; it’s best to get quotes from several companies when you’re shopping for car insurance.

Personal liability and property damage insurance is required in most U.S. states; it’s what pays the cost of damages or injuries to the other driver and/or passengers in an accident in which you are at-fault. Each state has its own rules for how much PLPD insurance is required to drive legally, but to fully protect yourself against a costly accident, it’s recommended to have more than the minimum requirement.

PLPD insurance is available from most insurance companies. When you are shopping for insurance, PLPD will be the central component in your policy, with optional coverages available that can pay for your own medical costs or damages.

Mary Van Keuren

After 30 years as a writer and editor in academia, Mary now writes full-time for the insurance and finance industries. Her work has appeared on Reviews.com, TheSimpleDollar.com and Bankrate.com, as well as other consumer-focused websites.

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