Glossary of Business Insurance Terms
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Bodily injury

The term bodily injury means physical harm to a human body. It can refer to sickness, disease, or injury that may require medical treatment.

What is a bodily injury?

While a fractured limb or a head wound are obvious examples of bodily injuries, the term can apply to a variety of medical problems including injury, sickness, or disease.

The term “bodily injury” is used in many types of insurance, including:

Bodily injury vs. personal injury

The terms “bodily injury” and “personal injury” have different meanings in the legal and insurance industries.

Lawyers often use the terms interchangeably. Personal injury cases involve someone who is physically or mentally injured by someone else’s negligence, such as a car accident. Personal injury can also refer to claims that don’t involve bodily harm, such as defamation, false arrest, or an invasion of privacy.

For insurance companies, a bodily injury claim results from someone being physically injured. Personal injury means damage to someone’s reputation, such as from an advertisement or social media post. Both types of injuries would be covered under your commercial general liability policy.

Which business liability insurance covers bodily injuries?

A general liability policy offers financial protection in case of bodily injury to a client, customer, or other third party. This policy also includes property damage liability coverage, product liability coverage, and advertising injury coverage.

For example, a customer could slip on a recently mopped floor at your business, or trip on an uneven step. General liability insurance would pay for their medical treatment, as well as your legal costs if they sue.

Should a product that you produce or sell cause physical harm to a third-party consumer, the product liability coverage in your general liability insurance can help cover the cost of a product liability claim over bodily injuries. In this event, however, you must also remember to:

A commercial vehicle policy also covers bodily injury liability. For example, if a delivery truck gets into an auto accident and another person is injured, the policy would pay for their medical treatment and any resulting legal costs.

Finally, the employer's liability insurance included in most workers' compensation insurance policies protects employers in the event of a bodily injury claim where the employee blames them for a work-related injury.

Insurance coverage for bodily injury claims typically includes:

  • Medical bills and hospital care
  • Lost income
  • Physical therapy
  • Long-term care
  • Funeral expenses
  • Pain and suffering as a result of the accident
  • Your legal fees, if you’re sued by the injured person
  • Settlements and court-ordered judgments

Commercial umbrella insurance boosts your coverage limits on the above liability policies. It can provide crucial financial protection against an expensive lawsuit, or numerous smaller lawsuits.

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Who needs bodily injury liability insurance?

Bodily injury liability usually refers to general liability insurance. This is often the first type of coverage that small business owners buy, as it can pay for expensive lawsuits brought by clients or customers who suffer an injury or property damage at your place of business.

Business owners with storefronts or frequent public interaction should strongly consider general liability coverage in the event of a bodily injury claim. It may even by required by your commercial landlord, a lender, or clients.

If your business owns a vehicle, your commercial auto insurance policy must include liability coverage as well. Each state has laws for the minimum amount of coverage required for business-owned vehicles.

As for commercial umbrella insurance, it's often purchased to meet the demands of leases or client contracts that ask for coverage limits exceeding $2 million.

How much bodily injury liability coverage do I need?

Each state requires a specific amount of bodily injury liability coverage for commercial auto insurance. For example, the state minimum in California is $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident; Florida requires less. Make sure your car insurance coverage meets or exceeds these minimum limits.

Other liability coverage requirements might be set forth in client contracts or commercial leases. When buying a general liability policy, or any kind of liability insurance, it’s also important to consider your coverage limits in terms of the financial impact that a bodily injury claim could have on your business.

If your business was found liable for someone’s injury, you’d be responsible for paying any costs that exceed your policy limits. That’s why many liability policyholders buy coverage that exceeds the minimum requirements.

How do bodily injury liability limits affect your coverage?

Your insurance policy will pay for damages, medical expenses, and legal defense costs up to your policy limits. If the cost of an accident exceeds either of these coverage amounts, it would be up to you and your business to make up the difference. For most liability policies, these limits are:

Per-occurrence limit

The per-occurrence limit refers to the maximum amount that your insurer will pay for any given accident or other single incident.

Aggregate limit

The aggregate limit is the maximum your insurance company will pay for all claims during the policy period, typically one year.

Similarly, your commercial auto insurance has per person limits and per accident limits.

How does commercial umbrella insurance work?

Commercial umbrella insurance provides an extra layer of protection across several underlying policies. This coverage kicks in whenever a bodily injury claim (or other liability claim) exceeds the limits on your general liability insurance, employer's liability insurance, or commercial car insurance policy.

If an accident impacts your business, and medical costs or legal fees exceeds your coverage limits, your umbrella policy would pay for these costs up to your umbrella policy's limits.

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Updated: July 1, 2022

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