- December 21
- Vehicle Accidents
Texas law requires drivers to carry basic liability car insurance. If a driver is at fault for a crash, their basic liability coverage would apply to other parties’ vehicle damage and personal injuries, but it would not cover their own injuries or damage.
At a minimum, Texas car insurance policies must provide:
$30,000 for each person (up to $60,000 per accident)
$25,000 per accident, for property damage.
That $30,000 doesn’t go far when people suffer serious or disabling injuries or when multiple people are injured in a crash. Medical bills can easily exceed $30,000 just for the treatment of a broken bone.
When your costs exceed what the at-fault driver’s policy can pay, you may sue that driver for damages. And if you have uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage, you can file a claim against your own policy to cover the shortfall.
About UM/UIM Coverage
In any crash with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you may file a claim for expenses not covered by the at-fault driver’s policy, such as lost wages, medical bills, permanent or partial disability, and pain and suffering.
UM/UIM coverage can also help you if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident. You can file a claim for bodily injury and property damage, including damage to any items inside your car.
Insurers are required to offer UM/UIM coverage, but drivers aren’t required to carry it. When choosing UM/UIM coverage, it’s important to compare various policies and their limits. If your UM/UIM coverage offers only $50,000 per person in personal injury coverage, that’s the maximum you could collect, even if your total medical costs amounted to $80,000 – and even if a jury ruled that you were entitled to $80,000.
Costs of Insurance
According to Insurance.com, the cost of UM/UIM is about 5 percent of your annual car insurance premium – so, $40 per year, if your annual premium is $800. The amount you pay will depend on your driving record and other factors. If UM/UIM coverage seems too costly, look into discounts that may be available for:
- Consolidating policies – You may be able to save money on premiums by choosing one insurer for your homeowners’ policy, car insurance, and any other property insurance you may have.
- Multiple-car discounts – Some insurers offer a price break for families with multiple vehicles.
- Defensive driving classes – When you take a defensive driving class, you may qualify for a safe-driver discount on your insurance.
- Anti-theft devices – Alarm systems and steering wheel locks may lower your insurance premiums.
All car insurers in Texas must offer UM/UIM coverage, which policyholders can reject in writing. But before you reject coverage due to its cost, consider the financial impact of a serious crash. Spending a little more annually on UM/UIM coverage with a high limit is a wise investment.
Claims Against Other Drivers
If you’re ever involved in a crash and file a claim for damages against the other driver’s policy, don’t sign a release from that insurer that says you agree to file no further claims in the crash. Such an agreement is legally binding and could deprive you of compensation, should you find your medical expenses are greater than expected.