In Texas, all drivers are required to be financially responsible for any accidents they may cause, and most drivers choose to do this by purchasing an auto insurance policy that meets or exceeds the minimum requirements set by state law. The following FAQ offers answers to common questions about the minimum auto insurance requirements in Texas, the different kinds of coverage available, and what happens if you are involved in an accident.
What are the minimum auto insurance requirements for Texas drivers?
To meet the financial responsibility for drivers in Texas, drivers can carry auto liability insurance that covers, at minimum:
- $30,000 per injured person, up to $60,000 per accident
- $25,000 for property damage
While these minimum requirements seem straightforward, there some exceptions and areas of confusion. For example, many commercial drivers and truckers are held to higher liability insurance minimums. However, Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services may not be. It is also important to understand that many insurance policies have maximum limits on how much will be paid, and the cost of the injured person’s medical care may exceed those limits.
When you sign up with an auto insurance company, they will offer you additional coverages beyond the bare minimum state requirements, and these options will usually raise your premiums. But, if you are hit by a driver without insurance or without sufficient insurance, you will be glad to have the extra coverage.
What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance?
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance is a no-fault coverage for yourself and people in your vehicle. It protects you if you are in an auto accident and the other driver’s coverage fails to fully compensate you for your expenses. PIP coverage will pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, and substituted services if you are no longer able to perform certain household chores. It will also compensate your family for funeral expenses in the case of your death. PIP coverage protects the policyholder, members of the policyholder’s household, and all authorized drivers and passengers in the car. It does not matter what the insurance or financial situation of the other driver is. PIP is required to pay.
In Texas, it is mandatory that the insurance company offer PIP coverage to you, but you may decline it in writing on your policy. An insurance company must offer at least $2,500 in PIP coverage, but you have the option of buying more. PIP coverage is a good thing to consider because Texas only requires drivers to carry $20,000 of liability coverage per injury. In a catastrophic accident, your medical bills and lost wages could easily exceed this number. However, you do have other options if you've been hit and injured by a driver who has little or no insurance that will provide more coverage.
If you aren't sure whether or not you have PIP coverage, contact your insurance company to review your policy. If you are covered under a PIP plan, but the insurance company is not paying your medical bills under the policy, you should contact an experienced attorney who can help force the insurance company to follow its own policy. Often, PIP claims can be resolved more quickly than liability claims against another insurance company. This means you should be able to get some money to tide you over during the duration of your lawsuit.
What is Medical Payments (MedPay) insurance?
MedPay is similar to PIP in that it pays regardless of who was at fault. The difference is that it is limited to paying for medical and funeral expenses only. While MedPay coverage is better than no coverage at all if you've been in a wreck, PIP provides much more comprehensive protection.
What is Uninsured/UnderInsured Motorist insurance (UM/UIM)?
In Texas, insurance companies also have to offer drivers the option of purchasing Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage, commonly referred to as UM/UIM coverage. This type of insurance covers damages that occur in a wreck where the other driver did not have insurance or did not have enough insurance to cover the amount of damages the other driver caused in the crash. There are basically two types of UM/UIM policies:
- Bodily Injury UM/UIM coverage pays for medical bills, lost wages, disfigurement, disability, and pain and suffering for yourself, your family members, and passengers in your car.
- Property Damage UM/UIM coverage pays for repairs, rental vehicles, and damage to items in your car.
UM/UIM pays these expenses up to the policy limits you select. UM/UIM also pays for wrecks caused by hit-and-run drivers, but only if you report the wreck to the police promptly.
Unfortunately, even if you have UM/UIM, sometimes your own insurance carrier will be reluctant to pay your claims. In this case, you need to contact a personal injury attorney with experience fighting these types of first-party insurance claims.
How you can find out how much insurance the other driver has
The first step is to find out whether the other driver even had insurance. Check the paperwork the officer gave you at the scene, as sometimes you can find that information there. Otherwise, you will have to order the police report for your accident. If you request it, our law firm will get a copy of your HPD accident report for free, and with no obligations. The police materials almost always contain the name of the insurance company and other insurance information.
Next, call the insurance carrier and talk to an adjuster and ask them how much insurance their driver had. Unfortunately, almost always, the adjusters will not give out this information. Regrettably, there is no law or requirement that they divulge this information to you informally. Our law firm has a way to find out what any driver's insurance policy is, and it works about 95 percent of the time. If you like, we will use our sources and get this information to you for free, and with no obligations.
If all else fails, you can file a car accident lawsuit against the other driver. Then, the insurance company will have to tell you, in the lawsuit, how much insurance their driver has.
What you can do if the other driver had no driver’s license, an invalid license, or a lapsed insurance policy
Our firm receives calls all the time from people who have been injured in a wreck where the driver who caused the collision did not have a driver's license or valid insurance. First, find out if you have UM/UIM coverage on your own auto insurance policy. If you do, contact your insurance agent—they’ll work with you to get the compensation you need for your property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you don’t have UM coverage, or if your insurance company gives you a hard time about paying for the damage done by the uninsured motorist, then you have a challenge ahead.
How you can get help with your questions after a car accident
If you have any questions after you have been hurt in an accident, you can contact an attorney with experience in personal injury law. He or she can tell you what rights you have under the law and what can be done to help pay your bills.
The attorneys at VB Attorneys have represented many clients involved in crashes where injured people think they have no options because the driver who caused the wreck did not have a license or insurance. Give us a call today or start a live chat, and we will help you get the answers you need to make informed decisions about your case.