Does homeowners insurance protect you against civil liability cases?

By Allstate

Last updated: January 1

Learn how homeowners insurance may be able to protect you financially if you're involved in a civil lawsuit.

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What's a civil liability case?

According to the United States Courts, a civil lawsuit begins with someone's formal complaint against someone else. These lawsuits often seek monetary compensation for damages the plaintiff claims the defendant is legally liable for.

The University of Minnesota notes the difference between civil law and criminal law has to do with who committed a crime against whom. Criminal lawsuits involve offenses someone has committed against the state. Civil lawsuits are between private entities or people.

What legal expenses could be covered?

The personal liability portion of your home insurance policy can help provide legal defense, regardless of the outcome of the suit. Homeowners liability coverage also may help pay the other party's medical fees or repairs you may owe.

The Insurance Information Institute (III) notes that the types of incidents personal liability insurance can help cover include:

  • Damage or injuries caused by pets
  • Unintentional damage or injuries caused by you or family members
  • No-fault medical coverage if a friend is injured in your home

Liability limits typically start at $100,000. It's important to choose limits that fit your situation. So be sure to do your research.

What other types of insurance help cover civil liability cases?

Most property-casualty insurance policies come with a liability component. This includes renters insurance, personal umbrella policy (PUP), condo insurance and more.

For example, a standard car insurance policy may help cover accident-related legal expenses. There are two types of liability car insurance: bodily injury (BI) and property damage (PD). Both can help cover legal expenses if you're sued after a covered loss.

A civil lawsuit can be costly. Making sure you have adequate personal liability coverage limits on your home insurance policy is one way to help protect yourself financially.