Texas law mandates that its licensed, driving motorists be able to pay for the traffic collisions they cause. In 2013, Texas roadways saw 232,041 traffic accidents, with one person killed every 2 and a half hours. And since 2013, Texas has led the U.S. in traffic-related deaths. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), to satisfy Texas law, Texans carry (at a minimum) both bodily injury (BI) liability and property damage (PD) liability auto insurance. Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of Texas auto insurance laws.
Texas Minimum Car Insurance
Most states require that their motorists carry auto liability insurance. When you are found at fault in an accident, liability insurance covers the financial costs of the other driver, including medical and repair costs. As mentioned above, because Texas law requires drivers be able to pay for the accidents they cause, with liability insurance being the most common insurance choice.
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Texans are required to carry a minimum of 30/60/25 in BI and PD liability insurance. In layman’s terms, this translates as:
- $30,000 for the other person injured in the accident.
- $60,000 for the total physical injuries incurred in the accident by the people you hit.
- $25,000 for property damage, including damage to the other person’s car or property (i.e. a wall, fence, or mailbox)
If injuries and damages total more than this, drivers either have to pay out of pocket or the victims of the accident are entitled to contact a personal injury lawyer to secure compensation through legal means. This is why it is often recommended that motorists purchase more than the minimum amount of insurance their state mandates they have.
Other Auto Insurance Options
There are other auto insurance types Texans can sign up for, including:
Comprehensive: This covers the the financial damages to your car in the event of vandalism, theft or natural disaster.
Collision: This covers the financial damages to your car in the event of an accident, regardless of who is at fault.
Uninsured/Underinsured Drivers: The DMV reports that 20 percent of Texas drivers are uninsured; this covers drivers involved in an accident with those uninsured/underinsured drivers.
Auto Insurance Alternatives
Texas offers their constituents three alternative ways to cover themselves in the event of an accident:
Surety Bond: A Surety Bond is a contract guarantee that you can pay a particular amount to a second party in the case of an accident.
Deposit with the State Comptroller: Texans must make a deposit equal to $55,000 dollars in cash to the comptroller. The comptroller is a financial officer who will let the state know you have the funds to cover yourself and others in the event of an accident.
Deposit with the County Judge: Texans must make a deposit equal to $55,000 dollars in cash to the serving county judge in the county that their car is registered. Similar to the financial officer, the judge has the authority to deem that you have the funds to cover yourself and others in the event of an accident.
Don’t Have Auto Insurance? There’s a Penalty for That
There are five instances in which you will have to prove you have an auto insurance policy:
- Get or renew your driver’s license
- When you’re involved in an accident
- Get your car inspected
- Register or renew your car
- Demanded to show proof by a police officer
If you do not have auto insurance in Texas, your first offense will be a fine ranging between $175-$350. If you are caught again, the fine will rise to as much as $1,000. If you are caught a third time and have caused serious injury in an accident, you will be fined $4,000 and will face jail time, not to mention getting your license revoked.
We can’t see into the future. While we might trust our own driving skills, there are other people out on the road who don’t take that responsibility as seriously. Auto insurance serves and protects us against financial ruin and it helps us do our part in society.