California has minimum coverage regulations for auto insurance. Most often, you will see them as 15/30/5. That indicates $15,000 worth of bodily injury coverage for a single person, $30,000 for everyone involved in a single incident, and $5,000 for any property damage.

Anyone who is marginally familiar with medical expenses knows that those maximum payouts will not cover much. Maybe a small fender bender with no injuries (short of Whiplash Harry), but likely any accident will be minor. Or will it?

In 2013 (the latest research done), the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $15,443. That means you would be on the hook for about $500 if  there was only one injury. Two injuries with minimum coverage will take $1,000 out of your pocket. Remember this is an average. In our whiplash society filled with personal injury lawyers happy to exploit what they hope is a lawsuit lotto.

Think about these questions: “How much are my injuries worth?” Many factors are involved in calculating the final amount your claim will settle for. It’s often more complicated than simply adding up your bills and tacking on an amount for pain and suffering. Other factors affecting the settlement include proof of liability, the county or city where the injury occurred (known as “venue”), whether medical treatments were “reasonable and necessary,” the at-fault party’s driving record, and the claimant’s level of comparative fault.”

The point is that even a seemingly insignificant accident could roll into some serious dollars. Your insurance company will only cover your liability up to the limits of your policy. Talk to your insurance professional and look at your protection and what you may need to do to up your ante.