In an accident, your car insurance protects your financial interests by paying the other driver’s medical expenses and repair costs.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, a reportable car accident occurred every minute and seven seconds in 2020 throughout the state.

Thus, making sure people driving on Texas highways possess car insurance coverage is a serious concern.

Without car insurance, many people end up paying their medical expenses and repair bills out of pocket, leading to serious financial issues. 

The state attempts to remedy this problem by imposing Texas car insurance requirements. We have prepared a short guide explaining the car insurance requirements in Texas.

If you have any questions about requirements for car insurance in Texas, contact Armstrong Lee & Baker LLP today.

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Texas Car Insurance Requirements: An Overview

Texas law requires anyone operating a vehicle within the state to show proof of auto liability insurance coverage. Liability coverage pays another party’s expenses if you cause an accident.

Texas car insurance requirements mandate at least $30,000 in coverage for injuries per person, with up to a total of $60,000 per accident, and at least $25,000 in coverage for property damage. 

Although the law requires only liability insurance coverage, other types of insurance coverage can provide more financial assistance in the event of an accident.

For example, collision coverage helps cover the costs of repairing your own vehicle after an accident. Comprehensive insurance coverage helps cover the costs of repairing your vehicle due to incidents not involving a car crash. 

Underinsured or uninsured driver insurance helps cover the costs of a car accident in the event the responsible driver does not have car insurance at all or does not have adequate coverage to pay for your losses.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, approximately 20% of drivers on Texas roads are uninsured. As a result, many drivers elect to take out this coverage.

In fact, insurance companies must offer you uninsured/underinsured driver coverage, and if you don’t want it, you must tell the company in writing.

Enforcing car insurance requirements in Texas might seem difficult. However, there are many situations where drivers are asked to provide proof of insurance, including:

  • During a traffic stop,
  • Obtaining a new driver’s license,
  • Renewing your driver’s license,
  • Getting into a car accident, and
  • Having your vehicle inspected.

If you cannot show proof that you are complying with the requirements for car insurance, you could face added penalties or have your application denied.

About 20% of Texas drivers don’t have insurance. That’s a staggering number, considering the fact there are more than 18 million drivers in our state. More than 3.6 million people don’t have coverage. Someone without insurance not only increases the financial burdens on covered Texas drivers, but they can also face severe consequences.

Penalties for Driving Without Coverage

If caught driving without meeting Texas car insurance requirements, the driver could receive a traffic ticket and pay a fine. This misdemeanor offense carries a fine of between $175 and $350. If someone commits the offense a second time, their fine can be as much as $1,000.

In some cases, drivers convicted of driving without insurance may be required to file an SR-22 form with the state. An SR-22 is a certificate of financial responsibility that proves the driver has obtained the necessary insurance coverage. The driver is typically required to maintain the SR-22 filing for a specified period, which can result in higher insurance premiums.

Failure to file an SR-22 has even worse consequences. Offenders could face a jail sentence of up to six months.

Other Consequences

Drivers caught without Texas car insurance requirements face other problems as well. Here are just a few:

  • Surcharges: In addition to fines, drivers caught without insurance may be subject to surcharges imposed by the Texas Department of Public Safety. These surcharges are in addition to any fines imposed by the court and can amount to hundreds of dollars annually for up to three years.
  • License suspension: A driver found to be operating a vehicle without insurance may have their driver’s license suspended. The length of the suspension can vary but may range from 30 days to one year for a first offense. Subsequent offenses may result in more extended suspension periods.
  • Vehicle impoundment: In some cases, law enforcement officers may impound the uninsured driver’s vehicle without insurance. The vehicle owner would then be responsible for paying towing and storage fees to retrieve the vehicle.
  • Legal liabilities: Driving without insurance not only puts the uninsured driver at risk but also exposes them to potential legal liabilities if they’re involved in an accident. Without insurance coverage, the driver may be personally responsible for covering the costs of property damage, medical expenses, and other damages resulting from the accident. This can lead to years of financial hardship. If an uninsured driver causes a wreck leading to a severe injury or death, they may never be able to regain their financial footing.
  • Difficulty obtaining insurance: In addition to the immediate penalties, driving without insurance can also make it challenging to obtain affordable insurance coverage in the future. Insurance companies may view uninsured drivers as high-risk and charge higher premiums or deny coverage altogether.

It’s important to note that Texas law enforcement agencies actively enforce the state’s insurance requirements, and drivers are subject to random insurance verification checks during routine traffic stops. In addition, the state requires insurance companies to report any lapses in coverage to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, which may result in penalties for the uninsured driver.

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Do You Have Questions About Texas Car Insurance Requirements? Contact Armstrong Lee & Baker LLP Today

Texas imposes car insurance requirements to make sure drivers can cover the costs of car accidents through their insurance companies.

However, other types of insurance provide additional protection in the event of an accident. We can help you wade through your insurance options.

We know that the aftermath of a car accident is often a frustrating and confusing experience. Our team at Armstrong Lee & Baker LLP is here to help.

We are problem solvers who focus on what matters for our clients. If you suffered injuries in an accident and want to know the requirements for car insurance in Texas, reach out to our firm right away.

Author Photo

C.J. Baker represents victims with serious injuries and has won millions of dollars for victims of 18-wheeler crashes, oilfield equipment failures, offshore platform explosions, and defective medical devices. C.J. graduated summa cum laude from Texas Tech University School of Law in 2016. He was an editor of the Texas Tech Law Review and a top national trial and moot-court advocate.