Car insurance policies are usually sold in split limits, like 100/300/100 or 250/500/250. Those numbers basically represent how much your car insurance company is willing to pay out to the other driver in the event of an at-fault accident — the slashes indicate the different parts of your liability coverage.
A car insurance policy of 500/500 means it would cover up to $500,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person and per accident. But most insurance companies don’t offer split limits this high, instead you can purchase a combined single limit policy.
What does 500/500 insurance mean for car insurance?
When you see 500/500 in reference to car insurance, it means your car insurance will pay up to those limits if you’re responsible for an accident that injures other drivers and their passengers.
These two numbers with the slash between them are called a split limit and they represent your bodily injury liability coverage limits per person and per accident. Split limits are always accompanied by a third number that represents your property damage liability coverage limit. So a 500/500 car insurance policy would mean:
If you cause an accident, your insurance will pay out up to $500,000 per person to anyone you injure
The total per accident payout is capped at $500,000 maximum
But most insurance companies don’t offer split limits above 250/500, which means drivers looking for 500/500 levels of liability coverage should consider a 500 combined single limit (CSL) policy instead.
What does 500 CSL mean on an insurance policy?
When you see 500 CSL in reference to auto insurance, it just means that’s how much your policy will cover towards 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.
With a standard split limit policy, your coverage limits would be broken down into three parts:
Bodily injury coverage per person,
Bodily injury coverage per accident
Property damage coverage per accident.
A combined single limit policy, however, gives you one single liability limit to cover all of the damage you cause in an at-fault accident. So instead of dividing up the coverage per person or per accident, your insurance company is just agreeing to pay up to $500,000 total.
How is a combined single limit policy different from a split limit policy?
With combined single limits, you may or may not have the same dollar amount of coverage that you would with a split limit policy. But a combined single limit policy gives you one big pot of money you can use to pay any accident-related expenses, unlike a split limit policy, which carves your liability benefits out into three separate parts.
For example, if you have a 100/300/100 split limit policy, you have up to $100,000 in bodily injury coverage per person, $300,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident, and $100,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident. When comparing total dollar amounts, a 100/300/100 policy sounds the same as a $500,000 combined single limit policy, right?
But if you are in an at-fault accident that causes $150,000 in bodily injuries for one person and $250,000 in property damage, your insurance payout is capped based on your split limit. This means you would have to pay $50,000 for bodily injuries and $150,000 for property damage out-of-pocket.
A combined single limit policy lets you spend up to your policy limit on any and all damage caused by an at-fault accident. If you have a 500 combined split limit policy and cause $150,000 in bodily injuries to one person and $250,000 in property damage, your insurance policy will cover 100% of that cost, since it’s still within the $500,000 total.
Do I need 500/500 car insurance?
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. If you have multiple properties, a fleet of vehicles, or other high value assets, you will need higher levels of liability coverage.
Why is 500 CSL better than 250/500 or 100/300?
Having 500 CSL levels of car insurance coverage is often better than 250/500 or 100/300 because it offers fewer limits on financial protection after an at-fault accident.
If you’re at-fault in an accident, you’ll be held responsible for the damage no matter how much (or how little) car insurance you have. This means potentially paying out-of-pocket for any expenses that go beyond your levels of liability.
Even in no-fault states, at-fault drivers are usually still held accountable for medical claims beyond a certain dollar amount, and at-fault drivers are held responsible for property damage claims in every state.
What is recommended for car insurance coverage?
Full coverage insurance, which includes both liability coverage and comprehensive and collision coverage, is the best option for drivers who can’t afford to replace or repair their car out-of-pocket after an accident.
If you have a loan or lease on your car, your lender may require you to buy a full coverage policy. Depending on your situation and what state you live in, it could also include uninsured motorist coverage, personal injury protection (PIP), MedPay, or gap insurance.
How much auto liability insurance do I need?
Most states require you to purchase a minimum level of liability coverage, but this minimum amount usually isn’t enough to pay for the damages in a serious at-fault accident. Remember, you are responsible for any costs that go above the limits of your coverage and you’ll be expected to pay those costs yourself.
Policygenius recommends drivers get a minimum of 100/300/100 liability coverage to protect themselves financially in an accident.
Drivers who have significant assets should purchase higher levels of coverage, like a 500 CSL policy, to make sure they’re financially protected in case of a serious accident. Having as much car insurance as you can afford is a good way to protect your assets and prevent someone from taking your home, vehicles, or other property in court to recoup their losses if you’re at fault in an accident.
Don’t assume you don’t need higher levels of coverage because you aren't “rich.” You may have more to lose than you think — high inflation and a competitive housing market mean your property could be worth much more than you think.
Is 500 CSL car insurance expensive?
A policy with 500 CSL levels of liability coverage means you’re getting one of the highest (and most expensive) levels of coverage available, but it still wouldn't be that much more expensive than liability levels of 250/500. In some cases, you might be able to buy 500 CSL coverage for only a few dollars more 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. If you are choosing between 250/500 and 500 CSL, you could potentially see a similarly small increase in rates relative to the amount of coverage.
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.