Making Sense of Automobile Insurance Definitions

This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish


By Rute Mendes Caetano, Esq.

Auto insurance is designed to protect you from the financial risks that come with owning and operating a vehicle – risks like accidents and injuries, vandalism or breakdowns. The challenge is that there isn’t one single insurance coverage type that protects you from every risk, and many people find themselves confused when their insurance agent begins recommending additional coverage.

What is Required by Connecticut Law?

Connecticut law requires automobile owners to carry a minimum of:

  • $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident for bodily injury liability insurance coverage, and $10,000 for property damage coverage, and
  • $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident of uninsured/under insured motorist coverage (UM/UIM).

While these bare minimums do provide some basic protection, they do not protect you from every risk. However, auto insurance companies offer far more coverage types, amounts and options, and it’s important to understand how they work and whether you would benefit from their coverage.

Auto Insurance Coverage Definitions

Below are the most basic auto insurance coverage types.

  • Bodily Injury Liability coverage protects other drivers if you cause an accident. However, that payment is limited to the amount of coverage you purchased. After this limit is reached, you are personally responsible for the additional costs of any bodily injuries caused to the other party as a result of the accident involving your vehicle.
  • Property Damage Liability covers property damage to another person’s property (car, fence, guardrail, etc.) that results from the negligent operation of your vehicle. It is similar to Bodily Injury coverage in the way it is paid out and how much is paid. Without this coverage, you could be held financially responsible for any property damage caused by your vehicle.
  • Comprehensive coverage protects your vehicle from damages that are not the result of an accident, such as a fire, vandalism or theft. There is a deductible with this type of insurance. Once you pay the deductible, the insurance company pays the remainder of the cost, up to the purchased amount of coverage.
  • Collision insurance covers costs you incur to repair your car in an auto accident, regardless of fault. Like Comprehensive coverage, you’ll need to pay a deductible and the insurer will pay the remainder.
  • Medical Payments covers the reasonable medical costs of the driver and vehicle occupants, regardless of who was at fault, related to the treatment received as a result of the accident. Like the liability coverages, payouts will be limited to the amount you chose to purchase. This coverage becomes primary, above any health insurance that may cover the affected individuals. This coverage is extremely important for anyone who is not otherwise covered by health insurance, as it will pay for medical bills resulting from an accident.
  • Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist (UIM). If the driver of the car who caused the accident does not have enough Liability coverage or has no Liability coverage at all, UIM insurance can be used to cover your personal injury costs. In this way, it acts as a substitute for the Bodily Injury Liability coverage that the other driver does not have, and in the same way is limited to the amount of coverage you purchase with your policy.

Automobile insurance is designed to provide you with financial protection against unexpected costs, but what is required by the state may not provide all the protection you need. An annual review of your policy, or a review whenever you have a major life change, is recommended to make sure the coverage still meets your needs. It is in everyone’s best interest to speak to their insurance agent to get a thorough understanding on how to best insure all of their vehicles.

Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith has sixteen attorneys and over forty staff, many of whom also speak Spanish and Portuguese, and it has lent a helping hand to accident victims throughout the State of Connecticut for more than 55 years. With its main office locations in Danbury and Bridgeport, Connecticut, Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith focuses on personal injury claims, motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents and workers’ compensation, mass torts and complex pharmaceutical and medical device litigation.

If you need help navigating the legal system, and need a trusted partner, call us at 203-800-8000 or visit One of our attorneys will be glad to offer a helping hand.

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