Understand Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Texas
An estimated 20 to 22% of all Texans who drive a vehicle are uninsured. They don’t have Liability Insurance, which covers the other person when a driver causes a car crash. The Texas Legislature requires that those who drive in Texas pay for any car crash and resulting injuries they cause. This is supposed to come from their liability insurance.
BUT…There are people driving right now who are not obeying this law.
If you own and operate a car or truck in the state of Texas, you should have car insurance. The truth is, not everybody gets insurance, or they let it lapse—and they take risks with their car, their safety, and all the other drivers on the road with them.
Liability insurance gets used if you are responsible for an auto accident and someone else is injured, and/or someone’s property is damaged. This same policy provides a defense attorney if the other party sues you for damages from your accident.
The Texas Financial Responsibility Law sets minimum liability insurance amounts. The current minimum coverage amounts are:
*$30,000 for death or bodily injury of one person in one accident (in other words, $30,000 for each injured person up to a total of $60,000 per accident)
*$25,000 for property damages (vehicles, homes and structures, landscaping, etc) in one accident
This minimum, basic coverage is referred to as 30/60/25 coverage.
You can choose to purchase coverage for more than these amounts. If you’ve never done so, you should seriously think about what amount of coverage you would like to have. And when you are making this decision, remember that if the amount covered by your insurance doesn’t cover the other party’s damages, they could sue you for more—in other words, come after your personal assets. So it is wise to purchase coverage in the highest potential amount that you’re able to afford.
Because you are only required by law to purchase liability coverage on your vehicle, you may not have uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage, referred to as UM or UIM. All insurance companies offer this coverage, but most people opt out. They do this to save costs but also because many people do not understand UM coverage and how important it is to have. Think about it—if someone causes an automobile accident and you are injured and/or your vehicle is damaged—and they do not have any insurance—and all you have is liability insurance—you are basically left without any options and usually with a car payment for a car that may not work anymore.
Note that a UM policy’s Bodily Injury coverage can be used to cover (with no deductible): medical bills (current and future); lost wages; loss of wage earning capacity; disfigurement; and permanent or partial disability; pain/anguish/suffering, and if applicable – funeral expenses. Repairs to the insured’s vehicle are covered by the Property Insurance part of the coverage IF repair costs aren’t more than fair market value of that vehicle. It covers other property that may have been damaged like a fence, landscaping, etcetera, and even covers damage to things that were in the car.
The property damage portion of the coverage DOES have a deductible.
Here are several instances when UM/UIM would protect you:
- You are in your car and you’re hit by a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your damages.
- You are a pedestrian and are hit by a car or truck and the driver who doesn’t have enough insurance.
- You’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident and there was contact between your vehicle and the other vehicle.
- You’re a passenger in a car or truck that gets hit by a driver who doesn’t have any or enough insurance.
Remember, your liability only coverage is for the other guy – it doesn’t pay you anything if you are injured (not to mention the passengers in your vehicle). UM/UIM insurance protects you at all times, in all these different scenarios, by ensuring that there is money FOR YOU when an uninsured or underinsured motorist is at fault in the accident. Like we said in the beginning of the article, there are many uninsured and underinsured motorists out there. Some good news: adding UM/UIM coverage to your existing policy is fairly inexpensive, and absolutely worth the price.
In any accident, always be sure to document everything, and contact an injury attorney for advisement. We can also better explain the complexities of your auto insurance – just ask!