Texas law requires people who drive in the state to pay for the accidents they cause. The majority of Texas drivers comply with this requirement by purchasing auto liability insurance. Texas financial responsibility law specifies minimum insurance coverage amounts for Texas drivers.
Texas Automobile Insurance Minimums
Texas law sets forth minimum coverage amounts for automobile insurance. The basic coverage is sometimes called 30/60/25 coverage, and requires:
- $30,000 for each injured person,
- $60,000 total per accident, and
- $25,000 for property damage per accident.
The 30/60/25 coverage is also known as liability coverage, and it covers the other driver’s car if you’ve caused an accident, as well as covering the other driver and passenger’s damages such as medical bills.
A car accident can cause significant damage to property, as well as serious injuries or even death. Because of the expense associated with repairing vehicles and the high costs of medical care, these minimum amounts may not cover the costs of a car accident.
In addition to liability coverage, there are other types of coverages to consider. These involve UIM, PIP, and Medpay.
UM, or uninsured motorist, coverage protects victims when the at-fault party doesn’t carry liability coverage. This is common with hit-and-run vehicle accidents. Also, approximately 20% of drivers in Texas (1 in 5) do not carry insurance so this type of insurance protects you in the event you are hit by an uninsured driver.
UIM, or underinsured motorist, coverage offers protection for the victim if the at-fault party causes injury or damages the vehicle but doesn’t have enough insurance coverage to compensate for the injuries or damages. In cases where your injuries are significant, it is likely that you will need to make a claim for this type of coverage.
PIP, or personal injury protection, covers medical expenses or damages no matter who is at-fault. But in some cases, coverage can span to include lost wages, and funeral expenses, both of which are common damages in car accidents.
This type of insurance is only available in certain states. In the state of Texas, PIP coverage is mandatory unless you sign a waiver to decline. The minimum amount of coverage is $2,500.00
Med Pay, also known as Medical Payments to Others, covers the medical payments of the occupants in the vehicle involved in an accident, no matter who is at-fault.
Med Pay only covers injuries the accident causes first-hand, and limits range up to $25,000.
Med Pay is similar to PIP, however, the difference between the two is that PIP covers more than Med Pay. PIP can cover other damages, not just injuries. Med Pay also requires you to pay them back if you obtain a recovery from the at-fault party, while PIP doesn’t need to be paid back.
It’s important to note that Med Pay is purchased for each car you own. This means that if you have three cars, you need to purchase Med Pay for each of the three vehicles you would like to be covered.
If you were involved in a car accident with a driver who was uninsured or underinsured, it’s important to consider purchasing UIM or PIP. That way, you can be covered if or when you get in a car accident. In addition to insurance, you should speak with a car accident attorney right away to discuss your rights. Car accidents involving uninsured or underinsured drivers often result in complicated legal proceedings. Filing a lawsuit against the driver may be the only way to secure the funds necessary to repair your vehicle and pay for your medical expenses.
Proof of Financial Responsibility
Insurance companies provide policyholders with a proof-of-insurance card. Drivers must show a current card when they are:
- Asked for it by a police officer,
- Are involved in an accident,
- Register a car or renew its registration,
- Get or renew a driver’s license, or
- Have their car inspected.
If you are involved in an accident, you should ask the other driver for his or her insurance information and write down this information before leaving the scene of the accident. Always call 911 after a car accident, regardless of how serious the accident was.
Penalties for Violating Texas Insurance Law
The penalties for violating Texas financial responsibility laws are as follows:
- First offense: fine of $175 to $350
- Additional offenses: fine of $350 to $1,000, suspension of your driver’s license, and impoundment of your car
- Offense without a driver’s license: $2,000 maximum fine, 180 days in jail, or both
- Offense if you cause an accident with serious injuries or death: $4,000 maximum fine, one year in jail, or both
In an effort to reduce its costs, insurance companies have started to “audit” medical bill. All this means is that the insurance company is using some data base to determine what it thinks the cost of the treatment should be and then it will only agree to pay such amount. This puts the insured at a disadvantage because the provider still wants to get paid the billed amount, but your insurance company will only agree to pay a lesser amount.
Contact Your Car Accident Lawyers
At Sutliff & Stout, we have experience representing car accident victims in lawsuits against drivers who have violated Texas insurance laws. To speak with a Houston car accident lawyer about your case, call (713) 987-7111 or contact us online today.