Every state has some sort of requirement for drivers to buy auto insurance. Texas is a “fault” state, which means all drivers are legally required to buy auto liability insurance to cover costs from accidents they cause. In the case of a car accident, this type of insurance pays out benefits to people you injure and the property you damage, but it does not cover your own injuries or damages to your property including your vehicle.
Car insurance is a somewhat complicated topic, but you’ll need at least the minimum auto insurance in order to register a vehicle. To help you determine how much auto insurance you need, we’ve created this comprehensive guide that explains Texas auto insurance laws along with information on the different types of auto insurance.
MINIMUM AUTO INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS IN TEXAS
As stated above, Texas is a fault state, so you will need to buy liability insurance. Texas auto insurance laws require you have the following minimum liability coverage amounts:
- Bodily Injury Liability (BI): $30,000 per person for an accident you cause, up to $60,000 for total bodily injury if two or more people are injured
- Property Damage Liability (PD): $25,000 for an accident you cause
Bodily Injury Liability covers accidents that you cause where one or multiple other individuals are injured. Benefits will cover a victim’s medical bills, lost wages, along with pain and suffering. Property Damage Liability covers damage you cause to someone else’s property, whether that is their vehicle, mailbox, or something else.
You will need proof that you have the required auto insurance before you can register your vehicle for the first time and annually for registration renewals. You must also carry proof of insurance and registration in your vehicle at all times. If you are pulled over by law enforcement, they’ll want to see that you have acceptable coverage.
Failure to carry auto insurance can result in fines, suspension of driving privileges, and even vehicle impoundment. Furthermore, not carrying insurance also leaves you extremely vulnerable if you are ever sued for causing an accident and don’t have insurance to cover costs.
OTHER TYPES OF AUTO INSURANCE
The minimum amount of coverage you need to legally drive your vehicle in Texas does not guarantee that your damages will be covered in the event of a crash. Liability coverage does not pay for everything, which is why it usually offers cheaper premiums than more comprehensive policies.
You may need to add on other types of auto insurance to ensure you have the coverage you need, such as:
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage: If another driver who does not have insurance causes an accident with you, this additional insurance option covers your expenses so you don’t have to pay out of pocket beyond your deductible.
- Underinsured Motorist Coverage: If another driver causes an accident but they do not have sufficient coverage to handle all of your expenses (which can easily exceed policy limits if you need medical care), this type of auto insurance kicks in to handle additional costs.
- Collision Coverage: If you are at fault in an accident, this type of coverage provides compensation to repair or replace your vehicle as needed.
- Comprehensive Coverage: If something outside of a collision causes damage to your vehicle such as weather, theft, falling objects, etc… this optional coverage pays for the cost of repairs or replacement of your vehicle.
- Medical Payments Coverage: This type of auto insurance covers medical bills for you and your passengers regardless of who is at fault in an accident. It also pays if you get hurt while walking, biking, or riding in someone else’s car.
- Personal Injury Protection Coverage: PIP insurance is similar to Medical Payments Coverage in that it covers healthcare costs for you and passengers in the case of an accident, but it also covers non-medical expenses such as lost wages, child care, and funeral expenses related to the accident.
- Towing and Labor Coverage: If your car can’t be driven and requires labor at the scene of the accident to move, this optional coverage takes care of those expenses such as towing, tire changes, and battery services (like a jump start) among others.
- Rental Reimbursement Coverage: If you are left without a vehicle following an accident or theft, this optional auto insurance provides money to cover renting a car while yours is being repaired or replaced.
SHOULD YOU BUY AS MUCH COVERAGE AS YOU CAN AFFORD?
It may seem like a good idea to have as much coverage as possible in case an accident were to occur. However, this has a couple of disadvantages. You’ll be paying a lot of extra money towards policy premiums, for an accident that may not ever happen. So you could pay thousands of dollars per year — money that could be better spent on other bills.
In addition, having too much coverage makes you a target for unnecessary lawsuits. Drivers with excessive coverage are financially more attractive than those with minimum coverage, and people will try to take advantage of this situation. It’s better to find the right balance of coverage than to invite unwanted attention.
HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT AUTO INSURANCE LAWS AND COVERAGES?
If you’re involved in an accident, don’t get stuck with the medical bills and costs for property damage. Make sure you have the right amount of coverage to avoid financial loss and work with a qualified attorney to ensure you’re fairly compensated for your damages.
Our Austin car accident attorneys have settled countless cases. We understand the law inside and out and can advise you about the best way to increase the amount of compensation you receive from the at-fault driver.
Contact us to schedule your free consultation.