What Is Personal Liability in Homeowners Insurance?

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Updated: May 22, 2024

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All standard home insurance policies include personal liability coverage, which protects you, the homeowner, from losses if you unintentionally injure or damage someone else's property at home or elsewhere. Whether it's an accident in your living room or an unforeseen event in your backyard, personal liability insurance has got you covered. With such coverage in place, homeowners can find solace in knowing that their financial stability remains protected.

Key Takeaways

Personal liability insurance is part of every standard home insurance policy, covering the costs of accidental injuries or property damage sustained at home.

Personal liability coverage does not include car-related damage, intentional damage, damage as a result of neglect or business-related issues.

To determine your personal liability coverage, consider your lifestyle, risk tolerance and the value of your assets.

What Is Personal Liability Insurance in Home Insurance?

Personal liability insurance is an integral component of home insurance, designed to shield homeowners from financial liabilities if they unintentionally injure someone or damage another person's property. This coverage is not an optional add-on; it's a fundamental component of every standard homeowners insurance policy. From unforeseen incidents like a child's friend getting injured while playing in your yard to damages caused by household pets, personal liability insurance offers an essential layer of security.

What Does Personal Liability Insurance Cover in Home Insurance?

In a home insurance policy, personal liability coverage pays for any accidental injuries or property damage in your home or resulting from your actions. It covers several scenarios, including:

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    Injuries You Cause

    Personal liability insurance can cover injuries occurring on your property and accidents away from home. For example, your policy will cover associated medical expenses if a visitor trips on your walkway and sustains an injury. Coverage also remains active even when you're away from your residence. For instance, if you accidentally injure someone at a park, this coverage can address the medical bills and potential legal costs.

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    Injuries Caused by Your Pets or Children

    Should your pet or child inadvertently cause harm to someone, this insurance can cover the medical costs. For example, if a dog jumps on a guest, leading to an injury, the coverage can address the medical bills. Note, however, that some insurers limit coverage to certain breeds only.

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    Property Damage

    Personal liability coverage also pays for accidental property damages, like a spilled drink damaging a visitor's personal item.

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    Property Damage Affecting Other Homes

    Events originating from your property, like a tree branch falling and causing damage to a neighbor's shed, are addressed by this coverage.

What Isn’t Covered Under Personal Liability Insurance

Personal liability insurance, like all insurance policies, has its boundaries. Understanding these limitations is crucial for homeowners to ensure they're adequately protected.

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    Car-Related Issues

    Personal liability insurance doesn't extend its coverage to car-related incidents. For such situations, auto insurance is the primary source of protection.

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    Business Liability

    Operating a business from your home brings its own set of risks. Personal liability insurance typically doesn't cover these business-related liabilities. Instead, a dedicated business insurance policy is required.

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    Intentional Acts

    Deliberate actions that result in harm or damage, such as vandalism, fall outside the purview of personal liability coverage.

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    Personal Injury

    Personal liability insurance doesn't cover injuries sustained by household members within the home. Individual health insurance policies would cover these kinds of injuries.

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    Other Exclusions

    Certain scenarios, such as injuries caused by specific breeds of dogs known for their aggressive tendencies, might not be covered, depending on the specifics of the insurance policy.

While home insurance’s personal liability coverage offers a broad range of protections, being aware of its limitations ensures that you can take additional measures if needed. Before purchasing a policy, consult an insurance professional to ensure you get coverage for your home and all your assets against potential risks.

How Much Personal Liability Coverage Do You Need?

While most standard homeowners policies offer a range of $100,000 to $500,000 in personal liability coverage, the amount you should opt for depends on your circumstances. Getting at least $100,000 in liability coverage costs a few more dollars per month, which is better than shouldering the costs of medical expenses.

Remember, life's unpredictabilities, such as injuries on your property or damages due to accidental actions, can lead to substantial claims. Beyond medical expenses, there could be legal fees, compensation for pain, suffering or lost wages. Take this into consideration when determining your coverage.

Obtaining Personal Liability Insurance

Personal liability coverage is already part of standard home insurance policies. However, you can easily increase the limit if your current coverage is insufficient. As life evolves and assets accumulate, it’s essential to periodically review the amount of personal liability coverage in your policy.

To purchase a home insurance policy, follow the steps below:

Assess Your Insurance Needs

Begin your journey by determining the extent of homeowners insurance coverage you require. Consider factors such as the type of home you own, its location and the value of your possessions.

Set Your Coverage Limits

Decide on the dwelling coverage and personal liability limits of your policy. Ensure that the coverage can adequately address potential damages or losses.

Evaluate Optional Coverages

Beyond the standard offerings, consider if you need additional coverages like flood, earthquake, or specific endorsements. These can be crucial based on your home's location or specific risks.

Compile Necessary Information

Gather essential details about your home, such as its address, appraisal information and any prior insurance details. This information will help in obtaining accurate quotes.

Compare Multiple Quotes

Don't settle for the first quote you receive. Compare home insurance quotes from various insurance providers to ensure you get the best value for your money.

Finalize Policy Details

Once you've chosen a policy, iron out the specifics, including the billing plan, deductible and the policy's start date.

Officially Secure Your Policy

With everything in place, finalize your homeowners insurance application. After paying the initial premium, your coverage will commence from the policy's start date.

Considerations When Choosing Personal Liability Coverage

To determine how much personal liability coverage to get, reflect on your lifestyle and potential risks. Some things to keep in mind include:

  • Potential Risks For Accidents: Evaluate any inherent risks associated with your property or lifestyle. For instance, owning a swimming pool, trampoline or certain dog breeds might increase the likelihood of accidents or injuries.
  • Hobbies and Activities: Reflect on hobbies or activities you frequently undertake that could inadvertently harm others, such as skiing, hunting or surfing.
  • Hosting and Social Activities: Regularly hosting parties or gatherings at your home can increase the risk of accidents or injuries on your property.
  • Tolerance for Risk: Your personal comfort level with risk can influence the amount of coverage you desire. Some homeowners prefer the peace of mind that comes with higher coverage limits.
  • Value of Assets: Consider the total value of your assets, including your home, savings and investments. If the court-awarded damages exceed your liability coverage, the court may target your personal assets to cover the remaining amount. By ensuring your coverage matches or exceeds the value of your assets, you protect your wealth from potential legal claims.

Your risk exposure is a critical element in determining your coverage level.


Ensuring the right amount of personal liability insurance is not just about meeting policy requirements; it's about safeguarding one's financial stability and peace of mind. Our frequently asked questions navigate the intricacies of personal liability coverage in home insurance.

Will homeowners insurance cover a civil lawsuit?
When is liability coverage included in a homeowners policy?
Does homeowners insurance cover personal injury to the homeowner?
Do you have to pay a deductible for personal liability claims?

About Mark Fitzpatrick

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Mark Fitzpatrick has analyzed the property and casualty insurance market for over five years, conducting original research and creating personalized content for every kind of buyer. Currently, he leads P&C insurance content production at MoneyGeek. Fitzpatrick has been quoted in several insurance-related publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Fitzpatrick earned a master’s degree in economics and international relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his knowledge of economics and insurance to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.