From Abilene to Texarkana, San Antonio to Fort Worth and the Panhandle to El Paso, Texas has thousands of miles of roadways. They’ll take you from downtown Austin to upscale Dallas, from Hill Country to the Big Bend desert. They’re used by over 15 million licensed drivers, who each average over 9,000 miles a year. Along the way, they’re involved in thousands of traffic accidents, including many that result in serious injury or death. Wherever you live and drive in the Lone Star State, carrying adequate car insurance is both a legal requirement and commonsense protection. This is your guide to Texas’s basic vehicle insurance requirements and laws.
Texas state law requires you to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties that may include monetary fines. Texas has a tort system, which means that if you are found to be at fault in a car accident, you can be sued for actual damages (expenses associated with property damage and medical costs), economic damages (lost wages and earning capacity) and emotional and physical pain and suffering. However, Texas also allows you to purchase personal injury protection.
The bare minimum car insurance requirement for Texas drivers is:
$30,000 bodily injury per person per accident
$60,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
$25,000 property damage liability
$2,500 personal injury protection
$30,000/$60,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury
$25,000 and minimum $250 deductible uninsured motorist property damage
Texas allows you to reject PIP and uninsured motorist coverage in writing if you prefer not to purchase them. Texas does not require you to carry additional coverage such as Collision and Comprehensive. However, if you own property or other valuable assets, supplementing the minimum requirements can help you protect yourself from monetary loss.
Penalties for Failure to Carry State Auto Insurance
Texas requires you to carry minimum liability insurance and provide proof if a law enforcement officer asks to see it. Failure to do so can carry severe penalties. Conviction for a first offense has a fine of up to $350. Your license can be suspended for up to 2 years for a repeat offense. The state maintains a database, TexasSure, which allows the state to immediately identify owners who fail to maintain mandatory coverage.
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Texas Car Insurance Premiums
Vehicle insurance premiums are regulated by the Texas Department of Insurance. Insurance companies are allowed to charge premiums and award discounts based on a number of factors that can include:
The type of car you are insuring
Prior auto insurance coverage
How much you drive
Your driving record
Your marital status
Your geographic location
How long you’ve been driving
Whether or not you use your car for business
Texas also allows insurers to consider your credit rating to determine your premium.
How to Get the Cheapest Texas Car Insurance Policy
You may be able to lower the cost of your premiums in the following ways:
Ask about available discounts for good driving habits, anti-theft devices, multiple cars on one policy, bundling your car insurance with your homeowners or renters policy, automatic or online payments and driving a hybrid or electric car
Compare quotes from a variety of providers on this website
Eliminate unnecessary coverage
Check to see if you qualify for any low-cost auto insurance program your state may offer
New Texas Driving Laws
Laws regarding driving and car insurance can change frequently. It is your responsibility to stay current about the legal requirements in Texas. The following laws have recently been enacted in Texas and may affect your insurance coverage decisions.
Texas has a ban on texting and all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers.
Texas has a ban on the use of handheld phones and texting for all drivers in school zones and assesses a $200 fine.
The minimum fine for failing to stop for a school bus has gone up to $500, with maximum penalties of $1,250. Many school buses are now equipped with cameras that will document the license plate of offenders.
The penalty for leaving the scene of a serious crash in Texas has increased and can carry fines of up to $10,000 and jail sentences from 2 to 20 years.
Texas drivers must now move over or drive 20 mph below the speed limit when a Texas DOT worker or vehicle is present. Where the speed limit is 25 mph or under, drivers can go no faster than 5 mph. Fines of $200 can be assessed.