Car insurance is legally required for everyone driving in Texas, but the rules of how insurance works, what required minimums you have to meet, and what to expect in case of an accident might make it harder to choose what kind of insurance to get. While we won’t go into the differences between policies from different brands, we can explain some of the basics of insurance policies to help you pick what kind of insurance you should have. The Arlington, TX car accident lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm explain what kind of insurance you need in Texas and what options might be available to you.
Does Texas Use No-Fault Car Insurance?
Some states require drivers to carry “no-fault” car insurance. In those states, car insurance policies pay damages to the driver who carries the policy regardless of who caused the crash. In Texas, we use at-fault rules that place the burden of covering damages on the driver who caused the crash. This means that each driver carries insurance to cover the other people they injure or cause property damage to in a car crash.
The problem with this kind of insurance system is that there is nothing you can personally do to make sure that the driver who hit you has good insurance that can cover your injuries. If you pay for better insurance, it will mean that your insurance policy can pay for higher damages in the event that you caused the crash, but it will not do much to help get your injuries covered if someone else hits you. That is why many people add features to their policy such as PIP coverage, medical payment coverage, or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (discussed in more detail below). If you need help after your crash, read more in our guide to car accident injury lawsuits in Texas from our attorneys.
What Are the Different Options for Car Insurance in Texas?
When looking at options for insurance, there are many different features that insurance policies can have. Under Texas law, there are a few requirements your policy needs to include, but it is important to first understand what features a policy can have.
Every policy will have some level of liability coverage to pay for damages when someone files a claim against your insurance. This usually includes coverage for personal injury and property damage, which is often covered at different values.
Liability coverage is also divided into how much the policy covers per person after a crash and how much it covers in total. Usually, the total amount is double the per-person amount, with the expectation that an accident involves two people.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage
PIP coverage pays for things like medical bills, lost wages, and other damages you could face after a crash. This covers you and your passengers in the event of a crash, allowing you to get these payments from your own insurance company instead of relying on the other driver’s policy.
All insurance policies have this type of coverage by default, but Texas law does allow you to waive this kind of coverage if you want to reduce how much you pay for insurance.
Insurance policies can have coverage for medical payments instead of full PIP benefits. This won’t cover lost wages and other damages but will still help supplement the costs of medical care after a crash.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM)
UM/UIM coverage allows your insurance company to cover your damages and injuries in the event that the driver who hit you doesn’t have insurance or has a bad insurance policy that doesn’t fully cover your needs. This allows you to get covered if you are injured in a hit and run accident or in other situations where the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage is too low.
This covers damage to your vehicle caused by things other than auto accidents, such as fires or environmental hazards like a tree branch falling on your car.
Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements in Texas
All Texas drivers are required to carry insurance that can help pay for someone’s injuries if they hurt them in a car crash. This is incredibly important because it helps ensure that everyone gets their injuries covered after a crash. Furthermore, ensuring that everyone has a chance to file an insurance claim after a crash helps avoid a heavy burden on the court system; if it weren’t for this insurance requirement, every car crash case would probably have to be resolved in court.
You also need to carry insurance that meets the minimum standards under Texas law. These standards are designed to make sure that there is enough money to cover most accidents. As most car accidents involve property damage only or a low level of injury, these standards are often high enough to help victims in the event of a crash. Under Texas law, the minimum required insurance coverage is as follows:
- $30,000 of liability coverage per person for injury
- $60,000 of liability coverage per accident for injury
- $25,000 of liability coverage per accident for property damage.
Is Minimum Insurance Enough for a Texas Car Accident?
30/60/25 coverage like this will satisfy Texas’ minimum requirements, but if you want to make sure that your insurance can cover more serious crashes, you can work with your insurance company to increase your coverage amounts or add on any optional features like the ones discussed above.
Increased coverage amounts such as 50/100/50 ($50,000 in injuries per person, $100,000 in injuries per accident, and $50,000 per accident for damage) can help cover bigger crashes that could involve more serious injuries or more victims. For instance, if you were to hit a car with 4 occupants while you have minimum coverage, they will have to divide your $60,000 of coverage among them, and the coverage is more likely to fall short of covering their injuries. With higher coverage, you can better protect yourself.
In many cases, the parts of a policy that people want to pay more for are the parts that help them more. For instance, PIP coverage and UM/UIM coverage will help protect you and the passengers in your car in the event of a crash rather than simply paying more to other parties. Talk to a Texas car accident attorney or an insurance expert for help determining what terms you might want to expand on in your insurance policy. Do keep in mind that any increased coverage or add-on terms will generally increase the price you pay for your insurance policy.
One other important thing to consider is that if an insurance policy does not cover the victim’s injuries, they might want to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to cover the rest of the damages. This means that if you were injured in a crash and the other driver has only minimum insurance, you may need to file a lawsuit against them to get the rest of your damages covered or else tap into your own underinsured motorist coverage.
Can You Sue Instead of Filing an Insurance Claim After a Car Crash in Texas?
While insurance is important for covering many small-dollar accidents and car crashes involving property damage only, insurance can also help avoid the need to go to court in more expensive cases. In car crashes where the insurance policy is too low to cover the victims’ needs, they may be able to file a lawsuit instead of relying on insurance. If you carry better insurance that can cover higher damages, the insurance policy might cover additional costs and prevent the victim from having to go to court. A higher insurance policy can also pay for damages that you might not be able to afford out of pocket.
If you were a victim, our Houston car accident injury lawyers can help you get the damages you need, whether that means fighting the insurance companies or taking your case to court. Even in many cases where the at-fault driver’s insurance policy does conceivably cover your damages, you might still want to take your case to court. In court, there are often additional damages you might be able to claim that you would not get paid in an insurance claim.
Always talk to an attorney about your options before accepting any money after a car accident. In many cases, accepting an insurance claim qualifies as a settlement and stops you from being able to go back to court to claim additional damages. The decision of whether to accept a settlement or go to court usually cannot be undone, so you should check with a Dallas car accident lawyer about which option is best for you first before committing.
What Isn’t Covered by Auto Insurance in Texas Car Accident Cases?
Knowing what isn’t covered by insurance is just as important as knowing what is covered. Whether you are trying to have your insurance policy pay for a crash or you are seeking damages after a crash, it is important to determine what damages insurance policies usually do not cover.
First of all, most insurance policies have a deductible. This means that the policyholder has to pay a certain amount of money before the insurance policy starts covering damages. In most cases, this means that the at-fault driver will have to pay the deductible, but if you have PIP or other benefits, you might need to pay deductibles in any crash to get coverage. This means that an insurance policy might not cover the entirety of the damages because you still need to pay your deductible.
Second, insurance policies often have limitations on what percentages of the damages they will cover. Sometimes an insurance policy will pay the full amount of the damages for the victim, but this is not always the case. For PIP benefits, there might be deeper limitations, with some policies covering only a fraction of your damages.
Third, most car insurance policies do not cover damages for pain and suffering. After an accident, pain and suffering damages and other “noneconomic” damages can be collected to compensate the victim for these intangible harms. Even if it is difficult to apply a price tag to these damages, they can be an important part of your injury case. However, most insurance policies do not pay for these damages, and you would need to sue in court instead to get these damages covered.
How to Maximize Insurance Coverage After a Car Crash in Texas
If you were injured in a car crash, it is important to do what you can to protect your rights and help set yourself up for success in any potential car accident claims or lawsuits. This often means collecting any available evidence and contacting an Arlington, TX personal injury lawyer as soon as you can.
After a crash, you should collect evidence to help you prove that the other driver was at fault and get you the compensation you need. At the least, your testimony about what happened will be important for telling the jury or the insurance company what happened, so take notes about what you remember to help you recall what happened later.
It is also important to get pictures of the crash, notes about where the accident happened, and what other conditions affected the crash (lighting, weather, etc.). Also collect the contact info and insurance info for everyone involved.
Work with a Texas personal injury lawyer as soon as you can after a crash. There may be other evidence you can seize, such as security camera footage that captured the accident, and it is vital to get this information collected quickly. Your lawyer can also depose witnesses and get other evidence to help with your case.
It is also vital to file as soon as you can, as the statute of limitations might bar older claims and allow the court or the insurance company to deny your claim.
Call Our Texas Car Accident Lawyer for a Free Case Consultation
Whether you are trying to decide what kind of insurance you need or you have been injured and now need help claiming damages after a car accident, The Queenan Law Firm’s Houston personal injury lawyers may be able to help. Call our law offices to set up a free legal consultation with our lawyers today. Our phone number is (817) 476-1797.