The three numbers in your car insurance liability coverage are referred to as split limits. Each number represents the maximum amount your insurance company will pay out to the other driver in the event of an at-fault accident. A 250/500/250 policy means bodily injury liability limits of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident, and property damage liability limits of $250,000.
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A 250/500/250 liability policy is among the highest levels of car insurance coverage you can purchase, but every company is different, so the best way to get the right amount of coverage is to compare quotes from multiple companies.
The first two numbers listed in your policy (250/500) are your bodily injury liability coverage limits.
The third number (250) is your property damage liability coverage limit.
Drivers should have as much liability coverage as they can afford, and drivers who have significant assets should consider getting 250/500/250 levels of liability coverage
You will be held financially responsible in an at-fault accident, no matter how much liability insurance you have, which is why more is usually better.
What does 250/500/250 mean on an insurance policy?
When you see 250/500/250 in reference to auto insurance, it just means that’s how much your policy will cover toward bodily injury and property damage claims if you’re at fault in an accident.
Basically, that’s how much your insurance will pay for any medical bills or repairs you’re responsible for.
The first two numbers, in this case 250/500, represent your bodily injury liability coverage limits per person and then total per accident. The third number, in this case 250, represents your property damage liability coverage limit per accident.
Bodily injury liability coverage
Bodily injury liability coverage is what pays for the other driver’s injuries when you’re at fault in an accident. Your bodily injury liability limits are the first two numbers in your split limit policy.
The first number, in this case 250, represents your bodily injury liability limits for injuries per person, which your car insurance policy covers up to $250,000 in medical bills and injury related-expenses for each person you injure in an accident .
But bodily injury liability coverage has a per-accident cap. The second number, in this case 500, represents your total bodily injury coverage per accident, which means you would have up to $500,000 in total coverage per accident.
→ Learn more about bodily injury liability coverage
Property damage liability coverage
Property damage liability coverage is what pays to repair or replace the other driver’s car when you’re responsible for an accident. The third number in a split limit policy, in this case 250, represents your property damage liability coverage limit.
This means you would be covered for up to $250,000 in property damage liability per accident. So if you cause an accident that totals someone’s expensive sports car or you crash into the wall of a building and cause extensive damage but you have up to $250,000 in coverage, you know you’ll be fully covered
→ Learn more about property damage liability coverage
Why is 250/500/250 better than 100/300/100?
Having 250/500/250 levels of car insurance coverage is better than 100/300/100 simply because it means more protection.
The at-fault driver is held financially responsible for an accident, no matter how much insurance they have. Even in no-fault states, at-fault drivers are usually still held accountable once a claim goes beyond a certain dollar amount.
Drivers who don’t have enough car insurance to pay for the damage they cause will be expected to pay anything beyond the limits of their liability coverage out-of-pocket.
Your liability coverage only pays up to the limits of your policy. For example, someone who has a property damage liability limit of $100,000 and causes $141,000 in damage to someone else’s property will be expected to pay the additional $41,000 out-of-pocket.
Policygenius recommends drivers have at least 100/300/100 in liability coverage, but some people need even more coverage to make sure they are fully protected after an accident.
People who have a lot to lose if they’re sued, like an expensive house, a classic car collection, or a sizable savings account, should choose 250/500/250 levels of liability coverage to protecttheir assets.
What is recommended for car insurance coverage?
If you can’t afford to replace or repair your car out-of-pocket after an at-fault accident, you need full coverage insurance, which is a car insurance policy that includes both liability coverage and comprehensive and collision coverage, which pay for damage to your own vehicle.
If you have a loan on your car, your lender may require you to buy a full coverage policy, which usually includes:
Liability coverage: Liability coverage pays for any injuries or property damage you cause to someone else in an at-fault accident, up to the limits of your policy. If you cause more damage than your liability coverage will pay for, you will be expected to pay the additional costs on your own, which is why choosing the highest liability limits you can afford is the best way to protect yourself financially in an accident.
Collision coverage: If your car is damaged in an accident, collision coverage will pay to repair or replace it, no matter who is at fault. Collision coverage isn’t required by law, but a lessor or lienholder usually requires you to purchase collision coverage if you are financing your vehicle.
Comprehensive coverage: Also known as “other than collision” coverage, comprehensive coverage pays for damage caused by things like vandalism, falling objects, theft, fire and explosions, weather-related damage, glass damage, and damage caused by an animal. Like collision coverage, comprehensive insurance isn’t required by law, but if you are financing your vehicle you may be required by your lender to have comprehensive coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage: Uninsured motorist coverage pays for your medical expenses if you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, up to the limits of your policy. Depending on the state you live in, uninsured motorist insurance may be a required coverage.
Other coverages: Depending on the laws in your state, you may be required to buy other types of coverage, like personal injury protection (PIP) and MedPay. If you have a loan on your vehicle you may be required to purchase gap insurance. You also might want to add other types of coverage to your policy, like roadside assistance, though other types of coverage typically aren’t required by law.
→ Learn more about liability vs full coverage insurance
How much liability insurance do I need?
You are required by law to have at least the state minimum level of liability coverage, but this often isn’t enough to pay for all the damages that can be caused by a serious accident. Policygenius recommends drivers get a minimum of 100/300/100 liability coverage to pay for any serious damage in an at-fault accident.
For example, if you cause an accident that sends both a driver and their passenger to the hospital, having a minimum of 100/300/100 in liability coverage will likely be enough to cover those bodily injury costs. But if it isn’t, you are responsible for any costs that go above and beyond the limits of your coverage and you’ll be expected to pay those costs out-of-pocket.
Drivers who have significant assets should purchase higher levels of coverage, like 250/500/250, to protect themselves and their assets in a serious accident. If the damage after an at-fault accident goes beyond the limits of your insurance, any assets you have could be at risk if you are taken to court.
Also, don’t assume you don’t own significant assets — thanks to inflation and the volatile housing market, a house you bought for $300,000 in 2018 could potentially be worth $500,000 or more today.
Is 250/500 car insurance expensive?
It may not be that expensive to get car insurance with liability levels of 250/500. In some cases, you can double your liability coverage and only increase your rates by a few dollars each month.
For example, drivers in the U.S. pay an average of $1,613 for 50/100 coverage and $1,822 for 100/300 coverage. For a driver with 50/100 liability limits to double their coverage, it only costs an extra $209 per year, which is less than $18 per month, and going from 100/300 to 200/500 could mean a similarly small increase in rates relative to the amount of coverage .
Compare quotes with Policygenius and work with an insurance expert to get a quote for 250/500/250 liability coverage.
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Frequently asked questions
What are the three types of car insurance?
The three primary types of car insurance coverage are liability insurance, comprehensive insurance, and collision insurance, but there are dozens of other coverages you may be able to add to your policy to make sure it meets your needs.
What is the most common car insurance?
Liability coverage is the most common type of auto insurance because it is the only coverage that is required in almost every state. Limits of 50/100/50 are one of the most common liability policies, but that likely isn’t enough coverage to protect you in a serious accident.
Is it better to have full coverage or liability?
Unless you can afford to replace your car out-of-pocket, full coverage is better than liability only coverage, since it protects your own vehicle in addition to any damage you cause in an accident.
Policygenius has analyzed car insurance rates provided by Quadrant Information Services for every ZIP code in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C.
For full coverage policies, the following coverage limits were used:
Bodily injury liability: 50/100 and 100/300
Property damage liability: $50,000
Uninsured/underinsured motorist: 50/100
Comprehensive: $500 deductible
Collision: $500 deductible
In some cases, additional coverages were added where required by the state or insurer.
Rates for overall average rate, rates by ZIP code, and cheapest companies determined using averages for single drivers age 30, 35, and 45. Our sample vehicle was a 2017 Toyota Camry LE driven 10,000 miles per year.
Some carriers may be represented by affiliates or subsidiaries. Rates provided are a sample of insurance costs. Your actual quotes may differ.