Auto Insurance in Texas

Overview

While Texas may be the largest state in the continental U.S., the state is on a quest to have the smallest percentage of uninsured drivers on the road. Is it succeeding? That remains to be seen. Instituting a program called TexasSure, the state is coming down hard on uninsured motorists.

What is TexasSure?

TexasSure allows police officers, Texas law enforcement officials, vehicle inspectors and any other designated state users to verify electronically whether a Texas vehicle has the mandatory auto insurance according to Texas law. The program confirms insurance and was designed to cut down on the number of uninsured drivers. The program is also intended to penalize drivers who provide false proof of insurance cards or drop their insurance after receiving a valid insurance card.

As of this writing, one out of every five cars in Texas is being driven by a motorist without insurance.

Penalties for driving while uninsured

If you’re caught driving uninsured in Texas, the penalties are steep. For your first conviction, your fine could be as high as $350. According to the Texas state’s insurance website, you would also be required to pay a $250 annual surcharge for a period of three years.

Subsequent convictions could result in:

  • Fines of $350 to $1,000
  • Driver’s license suspended
  • Having your vehicle impounded

Texas’ mandatory auto insurance laws

Texas law states that a person may not operate a motor vehicle in this state unless financial responsibility is established for that vehicle. Most people do this by purchasing an auto liability policy.

The minimum insurance coverage in Texas is currently (effective 1/1/11):

  • $30,000 bodily injury (one person)
  • $60,000 bodily injury per accident (two persons or more)
  • $25,000 property damage

Who is covered?

For liability purposes, according to Texas state law, auto insurance covers you and your family members. It’s important to note however, that some policies do not cover other people, including family members, unless they are named specifically on the policy’s declarations page.

Non-owner liability policies

In Texas, you have the option of purchasing a liability policy for non-owners. This is a great option if often use rental vehicles. A non-owner policy covers the costs of injuries and any damages you cause when driving a rented automobile. However, it does not pay for your injuries or damage to the car you are driving.

Auto insurance for young drivers

Parents can usually add their children to their auto policy to meet the state’s financial responsibility requirements. Because some policies require all drivers to be named on the policy for coverage to apply, it’s important that you list all family members on the policy as soon as they reach driving age. If you fail to list all drivers in the family on your policy, and for example, the insurance company learns of this at the time of an accident, or once a claim has been file, it’s possible that your insurance company will bill you for the additional driver premium for the time period that driver should have been listed.

If a teen is the primary driver of a particular vehicle, the auto insurance company will base the teenager’s rate on that automobile. If a specific auto isn’t specified, the insurer may assign the teen driver to the car in your household that produces the highest rate, which is usually the most expensive vehicle.

Take advantage of Texas program when shopping for auto insurance

The state of Texas offers a free auto insurance rate shopping service. To get up to three sample rate estimates, visit HelpInsure.com, enter your information and click “”Get Sample Rates.” You can choose up to three companies. You’ll then be able to view a detailed comparison of rate and policy information. Texas required the top 25 insurer groups by national premium volume to submit sample rates.

 

Resources:

Insurance Information Institute www.iii.org
TexasSure www.TexasSure.com
HelpInsure www.HelpInsure.com
Texas Department of Insurance
Tel 512-463-6169; 800-252-7031
Web www.tdi.state.tx.us
URL for auto insurance: www.tdi.state.tx.us/auto