Texas Auto Insurance Requirements
Maybe you have recently moved to Texas, just received your driver's license, or purchased a new vehicle. Congratulations! But before you can begin driving on the roadways of the Lone Star State, you have to obtain an auto insurance policy.
It's The Law
As a Texas driver, state law requires that you purchase and maintain auto insurance as an indication of your proof of financial responsibility. In fact, you will not be able to register your vehicle with the state without furnishing proof that your vehicle is currently insured in your name.
Texas Minimum Coverage Levels
As in other states, there are minimum levels of auto insurance coverage that are mandated by Texas law. A qualifying auto insurance policy must have:
- $30,000 in bodily injury coverage per person
- $60,000 in bodily injury coverage total per incident
- $25,000 in property damage coverage per incident
The amount of coverage that you buy and the deductible figure associated with your policy will strongly affect how much auto insurance will cost. You can choose to purchase additional insurance coverage – more on that in a minute – but you must have the minimum coverage in order to legally drive.
State law does not require you to purchase additional insurance policies (such as uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage). But Texas is a tort state, which means that someone will be found liable for every accident, as well as the resulting injuries or damages. If you are victimized in a collision caused by an uninsured driver, then your expenses may not be fully covered unless you have supplementary insurance. While you may not legally need additional insurance coverage, it is almost always a good idea to purchase it in order to protect yourself financially.
Proof of Auto Insurance
Once you acquire auto insurance, you will need to carry proof that you are insured whenever you drive in Texas. In most cases, your insurance company will furnish you with an insurance card that contains all pertinent information about your auto insurance policy, including the number to call if you are in an accident.
If you are not in possession of proof of insurance at all times while you are driving, you could face fines up to $350. Furthermore, if you are found guilty of a second offense, your driver's license could be suspended and your fine could reach up to $1000. If you have more than one insured driver on your plan, be sure to ask for additional insurance cards for each member of your household.
Auto Insurance Verification in Texas
Because of the financial burden that uninsured drivers place on the taxpayers of Texas, the state has taken steps to document all drivers who are covered by auto insurance and compile this information into a database.
This program is called TexaSure, and it allows law enforcement offices and other agencies to enter a vehicle's license plate or identification number to determine whether its owner is properly insured. TexaSure prevents uninsured drivers from circumventing proof of responsibility laws by carrying an expired or fraudulent auto insurance card.
Texas Auto Insurance Discounts
If you are concerned about the cost of an auto insurance policy, there are numerous ways to earn discounts on your insurance premiums. Some of these include discounts for:
- Maintaining a safe driving record
- Avoiding traffic tickets or citations
- Completing a state-certified Defensive Driving course
- Reducing the number of miles you drive annually
- Listing more than one vehicle on the same insurance policy
- Acquiring your auto insurance policy from the same carrier who handles other insurance policies that you currently have
- Equipping your vehicle with various anti-theft devices
- Driving a hybrid vehicle
- Earning good grades in school (for drivers enrolled in high school or college)
You should check with your insurance company to see which discounts are offered and how you and others on your plan may qualify for them.
In addition, a few insurance providers offer a method to reduce your premiums by recording your individual driving habits. This is accomplished by installing a device in your vehicle that records driving-related data over a certain period of time. If the information shows that you are a lower-risk driver, then your premiums will be reduced accordingly.
If you want more information about acquiring auto insurance in Texas, you can visit the Texas Department of Insurance website. A qualified insurance agent who works in your state will also be able to help you navigate the type of coverage you need.