Texas Auto Insurance Essentials
It is important for car insurance consumers to know your responsibilities and rights when it comes to obtaining a Texas auto insurance in the Lone Star State. Texas requires drivers in the state to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance to cover damages to property and bodily injury while involved in an auto accident. Most people choose to purchase liability insurance to fulfill this requirement by the state.
If you decide to purchase auto liability insurance your policy must have the following minimum amounts of insurance:
- $30,000 for each injured person
- $60,000 for injuries per incident
- $25,000 for damage to property
Although purchasing the minimal amount of liability insurance will satisfy regulators in Texas, it certainly may not cover you adequately in the event of a serious accident or other damage to your own car. For this reason, most consumers opt to purchase additional coverage that addresses most, if not all, other exposure you may have which protect you financially. These include:
This one is self-explanatory. Collision car insurance is designed to cover you for property damage and bodily injury in the event of incidents with other automobiles.
Not only do you have exposure to damage done to your auto by colliding into another car, but many other hazards pose risks of financial loss. Take for example a severe hail storm: Your car didn’t crash into someone else’s car, but the hail falling from the sky caused a lot of damage with dents as well as paint damage. Comprehensive coverage will cover you for these types of losses. Usually a preselected deductible will apply.
Uninsured/Uninsured Motorists Coverage
Suppose you get hit by a driver that just has the state minimums of liability, or even worse, has no insurance at all? This does happen more often than one would think. In fact, according to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, nearly 20% of drivers on the highway have no insurance at all! If you drive an expensive car and are the unfortunate victim of an accident with one of these drivers, you would be protected from this loss via this type of insurance coverage. Often times, when you are financing a vehicle the lien holder will require comprehensive as well as collision and other coverages in order to protect them in the event of a partial or total loss to your automobile.
Car Insurance Alternatives in Texas
Purchasing auto insurance in Texas is the easiest way to satisfy the law; however there are some alternatives to purchasing auto liability coverage. Some of these include:
A surety bond with two property owners in the state with the same limits of liability as the insurance will satisfy the state as a viable alternative.
- $55,000 Cash or Securities deposit with the State Comptroller
- $55,000 cash or cashier’s check deposit with the county judge of the county in which the auto is registered.
- Certificate of Self Insurance- Must own a fleet of more than 25 cars in order to qualify for self- insurance
Proof of Insurance in Texas
Your required to provide proof of state minimum liability coverage under several different circumstances and your auto insurance agent or broker will be able to furnish you with a replacement card upon request. Our agency even furnishes you with your own customer link to our
data base where you can log in at any time day or night, and download all your pertinent policy details including duplicate ID cards when necessary. Some instances where you would need to show proof of insurance could be:
- When your detained and questioned by police
- When your involved in an auto accident
- When you register your automobile
- When getting your driver’s license renewed
- When having your car inspected
Texas Sure is a government program designed to assist various government agencies in verifying if you have auto insurance or not. Some of the agencies that use this system are:
- The Texas Department of Public Safety
- Sherriff and Police Departments Across the State
- Vehicle Registration Offices
If there are issues with your car insurance information, you may receive one of the following notices:
- Unmatched Notices- According to the Texas Department of Insurance, less than 1% of insured drivers cannot be matched with their registered car in the TexasSure system. You’ll receive notice if your car insurance doesn’t match with your car here in Houston or Texas.
- Uninsured Notices- You will receive this notice if you have a registered auto with no car insurance on that car.
Penalties for Non-Compliance
Violating car insurance laws in Houston and other areas in Texas brings with it huge fines and penalties and can lead to civil litigation should there be an auto accident.
On your first conviction you’d be looking at $175 to as much as a $350 dollar fine for not carrying the minimum car insurance necessary. And, for additional convictions, you could pay as much as $1000 dollars in fines with the possible suspension of your driver’s license and impoundment of your car. You definitely do not want to risk all the fines and expenses associated with not carrying auto insurance in Texas.
Texas Auto Insurance Plan Association
Drivers with poor driving records and multiple moving violations coupled with poor credit may find it difficult to obtain an admitted insurance carrier to insure them. If two or more auto insurance companies in Texas decline to insure you, it is possible to obtain a policy through the TAIPA. To be eligible, you must:
- Have a valid Texas Driver’s License or apply for one
- Live in Texas or have a car registered here
- Certify at least two car insurance companies have turned you down in the last 60 days. You do not need to provide proof of the declines, only to sign an affidavit stating that two insurance companies have rejected your applications for insurance.
TAIPA Coverage Details
Through TAIPA you will be covered for the minimum liability coverage plus:
- $2500 Personal Injury Protection
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage of:
- $30,000 personal injury
- $60,000 injuries per accident
- $25,000 property damage
TAIPA only allows you to purchase annual policies, but you do have various options for payment,
- Paying full annual premium up front
- 8 installment payments – You will need to make a down payment of the greater of 20% or 40 dollars.
If you’ve been under the TAIPA program for 3 years without an incident, your auto insurance carrier must take you out of the program and offer you standard auto insurance at a lower rate.
Help with Your Auto Insurance Complaints
The Texas Department of Insurance offers assistance for complaints you may have with your existing auto insurance carrier. The most common complaints TDI helps to resolve are:
- Claim and Benefit Disputes
- False Advertising
- Suspected Insurance Fraud
TDI cannot assist you with the following:
- Determining who was at fault in an auto accident
- Resolving disputes between you and your insurance carrier when your word is your only evidence.
- Forcing insurance companies to pay a disputed claim or make a policy exception when no insurance laws were broken.
- Giving legal advise
- Driving While Intoxicated
The Texas Department of Transportation estimates someone is hurt or killed in an alcohol related accident every 20 minutes in the State. The statistics for drunk driving in the 5 largest cities in Texas are staggering. According to The Right Step, San Antonio accounted for the highest number of DWI crashes at: 1845. Houston came in at: 1492, Dallas at 1310, and El Paso at 758.
Car Insurance in Houston and San Antonio becomes more expensive by virtue of more risk associated with these types of accident and fatalities. Drinking and driving can not only be costly to your wallet, but can be lethal to you or someone you love. DWI convictions can increase your auto insurance premiums substantially, so the best policy is to avoid drinking and driving all together.
Drug and Alcohol Driving Awareness Discount
To help promote safe driving, some of the best Texas Car Insurance Companies are required to offer 5% discounts for the completion of a Texas Education Agency approved drug and alcohol awareness course. You would not be eligible for the discount if you’ve been convicted of a DWI in the last 7 years. Staying safe and driving responsibly will definitely keep your auto insurance premiums affordable.
Find Out More About Auto Insurance
IHS Insurance Group LLC is a full service insurance agency offering Texans and their families competitive auto insurance products. Please do not hesitate to call us with any questions related to your insurance or to receive your no obligation quote.