Texas law makes drivers financially responsible for the automobile accidents they cause. In Texas, car owners must have auto insurance with at least $30,000 of liability coverage for each injured person, up to a total of $60,000 per accident. They also must carry $25,000 of property damage liability coverage per accident. Those minimum coverage requirements are referred to as 30/60/25.
Many drivers choose to drive with the minimum required car insurance. But the policy limits often cannot fully compensate victims of a car accident caused by the policyholder.
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident caused by a driver who is uninsured or does not have adequate insurance to cover your losses, a car accident lawyer can help you understand your legal options. In some cases, you may need to file a claim with your own uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist policy for additional coverage. It’s crucial to know the different auto coverage options in Texas to protect your rights if you are seriously injured in a crash. At the Law Offices of Troy A. Brookover, we are ready to assist you.
Understanding Different Auto Coverage Options in Texas
Personal vehicle owners in Texas have multiple coverage options when purchasing a car insurance policy:
- Liability coverage – Liability coverage pays for the damages and injuries that other motorists suffer if you cause an accident.
- Personal injury protection coverage – PIP coverage pays for your and your passenger’s medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses arising from injuries suffered in a car crash, regardless of who caused the accident. Texas insurers must offer PIP coverage as part of an auto insurance policy. You most likely have PIP coverage unless you declined it in writing.
- Uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage – This provides coverage for injuries and property damage you sustain in an accident caused by a driver who doesn’t have liability insurance or who doesn’t have sufficient insurance to compensate you fully. Uninsured motorist coverage can also compensate you after a hit-and-run accident.
- Collision coverage – Collision coverage pays for repairs to your vehicle after an accident or pays you the actual cash value of your car if totaled in a crash.
- Comprehensive coverage – Pays for repairs or reimbursement of a car’s value after damage from something other than a collision, such as fire, weather, flood, vandalism, or theft.
- Medical payments coverage – Similar to PIP coverage, MedPay compensates for your and your passenger’s medical expenses if you’re in a crash. It also applies while you are riding in someone else’s vehicle or if you get hit by an automobile while walking or riding your bicycle.
- Towing and labor coverage – This pays for towing services, including a tow truck driver’s labor to jump-start your car or change a flat tire.
- Rental reimbursement coverage – This coverage provides reimbursement for car rental fees you incur if your car gets stolen or suffers damage in an accident.
Cheap Car Insurance in Texas: Exploring the Most Affordable Minimum Liability Coverage
Car owners can reduce their insurance premiums by selecting the minimum required liability coverage of $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident of bodily injury liability coverage, and $25,000 per accident of property damage liability coverage. Owners can reduce insurance costs by declining PIP and UM/UIM coverage. Furthermore, insurers might offer discounts on insurance premiums for drivers who have:
- Safety equipment and antitheft devices installed in their vehicle
- Completed a defensive driving education course
- No accident claims and a clean driving record
- Purchased other policies with the same insurer, such as homeowners/renters insurance
Don’t Risk It: Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in Texas
Drivers who get behind the wheel without insurance can face penalties if caught by law enforcement. Texas considers driving without car insurance a misdemeanor offense. Police will ticket you if you cannot present proof of insurance.
Penalties for driving without car insurance in Texas include:
- First offense – A fine of $175 to $300, although the court can impose a lower fine if it determines you cannot pay the minimum $175 fine.
- Second and subsequent offenses – A fine of $350 to $1,000, plus a potential driver’s license and vehicle registration suspension for up to two years.
After a second or subsequent conviction, you must file an SR-22 certificate with the Texas Department of Public Safety for two years following your conviction. Insurers can issue an SR-22 to certify that you have insurance coverage.
Leasing a Car in Texas: What Is the Minimum Car Insurance Requirement?
In addition to bodily injury and property damage liability coverage, drivers who lease their vehicles typically must also purchase comprehensive and collision coverage as a condition of the lender financing the lease. Banks insist on comprehensive/collision coverage for leased vehicles since the vehicle serves as security for the loan. If a leased car gets damaged or totaled, the bank will want the insurance coverage to pay for repairs to restore the car’s value or reimbursement of the car’s actual cash value if the insurance company deems the vehicle a total loss. Drivers who lease or take out a loan to purchase a car may consider purchasing gap insurance, which pays any difference between an actual cash value payment if the car gets totaled and the remaining balance on the driver’s lease or loan.
What Happens if I Buy a New Car? Is It Covered?
When you purchase a new car, you must contact your insurance company to add the new car to your policy and remove the car you traded in with the purchase. Most insurance policies offer a grace period of around 20 days after you buy a new car to call the insurer to update your policy. After the grace period expires, your insurance coverage will lapse for your new car.
Am I Covered If I’m Driving Someone Else’s Car?
In most cases, your auto insurance policy will apply when you drive someone else’s car. For example, if you rent a car, your auto policy will apply if you drive the rental for personal purposes. However, your insurance policy won’t apply if you rent a car for work. Most car rental companies offer a damage waiver as an additional option to purchase with your rental. When you purchase a damage waiver, the car rental company agrees not to charge you for any damage that the car suffers during your rental.
If you borrow a car from someone, the owner’s car insurance policy will typically apply if you get into an accident. However, if the owner doesn’t have insurance or your policy has higher coverage limits, your policy may apply instead. If you frequently borrow cars from others, you can also purchase a nonowner liability policy that provides coverage for bodily injury and property damage suffered by others in an accident you cause.
Get Legal Help from Our Experienced San Antonio Car Accident Attorneys
When you’ve incurred losses due to a car accident caused by another driver and issues about insurance coverage arise, get the legal help you need to evaluate your options. Contact the Law Offices of Troy A. Brookover today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. We can review the accident and discuss the avenues available to you to seek compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.