The cost of auto insurance in Texas is dependent upon several factors. First of all, liability coverage costs less than full coverage auto insurance. Full coverage insurance is actually two types of coverage combined in one policy, in addition to liability. Your premium will depend, partially, on which of these options you purchase.
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If your car is financed or leased, you will be required to carry full coverage by your finance company or leasing company. If you own your car outright, and particularly if your car is an older model, you may consider carrying only liability insurance.
Liability Insurance in Texas
Texas is an at fault state as opposed to a no fault state. This means that if you are in an accident and the accident is determined to be your fault, you are responsible for damages to the other car, as well as injuries to the parties involved. Texas liability insurance covers the other driver and passengers, as well as damages to their car, if you are in an accident and the collision is your fault. Liability insurance does not cover your car or bodily injuries of you and your passengers.
Texas.gov reports that, as of June, 2011, the state requires that all drivers must carry auto insurance in order to driver legally.
Texas has determined the minimum amount of liability coverage to be:
- Bodily Injury, 1 Person – $30,000
- Bodily Injury, Total – $60,000
- Property Damage – $25,000
In the language of car insurance, these amounts are expressed as: 30/60/25.
The Cost of Insurance in Texas
A report compiled by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (2010) indicates that Texans paid an average of $854 for auto insurance in 2008. According to the report, Texas was in 15th place for the average cost of auto insurance in the nation. Texans pay approximately 8% more than the national average for their car insurance.
Full Coverage Insurance in Texas
Full coverage auto insurance is a combination of comprehensive and collision coverage. Collision coverage insures the vehicle in the case of a collision with another car or an object. Comprehensive covers the auto in the event the car is damaged due to weather, vandalism, theft or an “act of God.”
If your car is financed or leased, the finance company or leasing company requires full coverage for the vehicle in order to protect their investment.
If the car is totaled, or stolen and not recovered, the lien holder or leasing company is paid for the vehicle’s current value.
Other types of coverage may also be included in a full coverage policy. For example, the policy might include GAP coverage. GAP coverage provides payment for the deficiency between the financed loan and the value of the car in case the car is totaled or stolen and not recovered. GAP insurance pays any deficiency so that the driver is not required to pay car payments on a car they no longer possess.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage may also be included. This type of coverage pays to repair the car in the event the car is damaged in an accident with an uninsured driver or and underinsured driver.
High-End Vehicle Coverage
The cost of full coverage insurance in Texas varies by the types of coverage and the amount for which the car is insured. For example, insuring a Bentley is much more expensive than insuring a Volkswagen Beetle.
CarInsurance.com lists the overall average annual cost for car insurance in various Texas cities.
In Austin, the overall average annual cost for car insurance for Texas drivers is $1395.
Progressive lists the average cost of car insurance premiums in Texas at $854 back in 2008. The website AutoInsuranceTips states that the average cost of car insurance for Texas drivers is about $2.00 less than the national average. In Texas, fines for failure to carry adequate insurance start at $175 and may cost the driver several hundred dollars. If a driver is stopped and ticketed for failure to maintain financial responsibility, and still does not obtain car insurance within 30 days, the State of Texas will assess a surcharge of several hundred dollars per year for three years.
Additional Factors Affecting the Cost of Car Insurance in Texas
Other factors that influence car insurance rates in Texas include:
- Age– Drivers under 25 years of age are considered higher-risk drivers simply because they are less experienced. However, when a driver turns 25 years old, their insurance rates are lowered if they have maintained a safe driving record.
- Gender– Males are considered higher-risk drivers than females. Therefore, car insurance rates are higher for males than for females.
- Discounts– Car insurance providers offer discounts on insurance premiums for various groups, such as good students. Other discounts include multi-vehicle discounts for customers who insure more than one car with the same carrier. Safe driver discounts are often provided for drivers who have a ticket free and accident free driving history. Some carriers offer discounts to educators and others offer discounts to service members. Be sure to check with your insurance carrier regarding any discounts for which you may qualify.
- Record and/or Number of Accidents—Another factor that determines how much a Texan’s premium will be is the number of accidents, traffic tickets or other violations within the past three years. If you have been in an accident or have had a traffic violation within the past three years, your auto insurance rates will be more expensive than for a “safe driver,” or one who has had no accidents or violations. Texas, as with most states, utilizes the point system. For each minor traffic infraction, a point is placed on your driving record.
For more serious offenses, two points may be placed on your record. Points, however, expire from the record three years from the date the infraction occurred. If you are able to maintain a good driving record, the points on your driver’s license will expire after three years and you will once again be eligible for lower car insurance rates.
Although being labeled as a high risk driver overlaps with the number of accidents and/or points that are placed on one’s driving record, an individual may be deemed a high risk driver for infractions more serious than simple traffic tickets. For example, if an individual is convicted of a DUI, they are automatically considered a high risk driver in Texas.
High Risk Drivers and the SR-22 Form
The State of Texas may require that an SR-22 certification be filed by the car insurance company with the Department of Public Safety on behalf of the driver to ensure that the driver is maintaining financial responsibility. (In other states, the SR-22 is filed with the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, in Texas, the Department of Public Safety handles driver licensing.)
An SR-22 filing may be required as part of the driver’s punishment for the DUI offense and the judge may require that it be filed in order for the driver to drive on Texas roads.
An SR-22 is not an insurance policy. However, a high risk driver must carry high risk auto insurance in order to have an SR-22 certification filed on their behalf with the Texas DPS. If the judge or a DPS hearing oversight officer determines that the driver must file an SR-22, then the driver is required to carry high-risk insurance at all times and provide proof of this with an SR-22 form. If the driver’s insurance policy is canceled, the DPS is notified.
The TexasSure program was implemented in 2008. This program enables the State of Texas to maintain a database that allows law enforcement officers to check a license plate number to verify valid insurance.
The TexasSure system was recently enhanced with scanners in a few police cruisers. Scanners enable law enforcement officers to simply scan a license plate number to verify that the car is insured according to data stored in the TexasSure database. The scanners alleviate the need for officers to manually enter plate numbers into their computer in the cruiser to check the TexasSure database. The scanners are able to scan up to 600 license plates in an hour.
Shop Around to Find the Best Texas Auto Insurance Rates
The cost of Texas auto insurance is dependent upon many factors, including the driver’s record, type of coverage and car insurance company. Rates vary between car insurance carriers which is why those seeking to purchase auto insurance in Texas should shop around and compare rates for several different providers.
Texas is an at fault insurance state and Texas, as well as most other states, requires that drivers carry a minimum amount of liability insurance in order to legally drive on the roads. Access to the TexasSure database provides law enforcement officers with the ability to check the validity of a driver’s coverage within minutes.
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