What Factors Does Texas Law Allow in Determining Your Premiums?
To have control over how much you pay for your car insurance, it’s good practice to know the criteria that drive how car insurance rates are calculated.
Insurance providers use the same data points to determine the appropriate premium rate for you. Some of the most significant criteria are listed below. Texas insurance providers are allowed to base their calculations on the following factors.
When it comes to your credit score, insurance companies cannot deny you insurance based on your credit. If they use your credit score as an underwriting factor, they must also consider other factors in the list above.
Combined with shopping for car insurance quotes from multiple providers and by adjusting or improving any of the above factors, you can influence your annual premiums.
What is the Penalty for Driving Without Insurance in Texas?
Driving without insurance in Texas is against the law. Car owners are required to carry at least the minimum amount of insurance coverage. Going without car insurance carries penalties and possible fines. Also, you should always carry proof of insurance. Citations have been issued for driving without proof of insurance, which also carries a fine.
Should you be stopped for a traffic violation or are involved in an accident, have your proof of insurance ready. Not having that proof of coverage will result in tickets or fines, and if your car were to be towed and impounded as a result of an accident, there are additional costs to pick it up from the impound lot. If you don’t have proof of insurance with you after an accident or during a traffic stop, you can take the proof to court at a later date. The violation will be dismissed with a minimum fine of $260. It’s a good idea to carry your insurance card with you at all times.
Driving without car insurance will hit your life and wallet harder than driving without proof of insurance.
If you’re in an accident and don’t carry car insurance, even with being not-at-fault, Texas law requires insurance. You may not be cited for the accident, but you will be cited for breaking the insurance law. And without coverage, you have no insurance company representative to stand up on your behalf with the other driver’s insurance company. Collecting reimbursement on your own could take weeks, months, or may never happen at all.
There are additional details in the laws for those individuals who choose to drive uninsured. Texas operates by a modified comparative negligence system, which means the driver found to be 51% or more at-fault will receive no compensation from the others involved in the accident. This system was established to reduce counter-lawsuits and victim-blaming. Unlike states with pure comparative negligence systems, an at-fault driver can counter sue you with something as simple as citing that you were driving 5 mph over the speed limit and demanding that they be entitled to compensation from you.
Uninsured drivers who are the cause of accidents will find themselves dealing with more severe consequences. There will be fines to pay for not following the Texas car insurance laws, and because it is an at-fault-state, drivers are also held accountable for any injuries or damage. This applies to the drivers themselves and others involved in the accident, including hospital and ambulance expenses and property and car repair.
Those who are uninsured should consider bankruptcy at this stage. It may be the only way to stay afloat.
Your first offense driving without insurance will require you to pay a fine of $175–$350 and any penalty assessments. You will also have to pay an additional $250 annually for three years to renew your license; that’s an additional $750 on top of your fines.
Also, Texas requires that you file an SR-22 form with TxDOT. This form, the certificate of financial responsibility, verifies that you are carrying the minimum mandated amount of car insurance required by the state.
Should you incur any offenses within three years of the initial offense, fines range from $350–$1,000 and penalty assessments, including annual surcharges of $250 for three years. This second violation could total up to $1,750. Weight that risk with the fact that the average mandatory minimum for car insurance is only $782.
The high-cost fines and surcharges associated with driving without insurance are meant to discourage you from going uninsured. Consider the consequences before choosing to go without coverage. It makes good sense to, at the very least, carry the minimum insurance coverage.
Am I Required to Report an Accident in Texas to Authorities?
Absolutely yes. If you are involved in an accident, you must report it if you or someone else is injured, if someone has been killed due to the accident, or an automobile has been damaged beyond safe use. You must immediately contact the local municipal authority.
According to Texas law, a crash report must be made with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Although police officers at the scene of an accident are required to file a Peace Officer’s Crash Report or CR-3 form, if this happens, you are not required to file your own Crash Report (CR-2), known as the Blue Form. Note that as of 2019, TxDOT no longer retains CR-2 reports for the long term. They advise you to maintain a copy of your report and request a copy of the associated CR-3 report filed by the police.
Not reporting an accident can result in the suspension of your license.
You must notify TxDot within 10 days if no one has been injured, and there is more than $1,000 worth of damages to any property or the vehicles.
Most insurance providers ask that you report any accidents that may occur; however, there are no state laws that say you must inform your insurer. Check your policy to understand what is expected of you should you be involved in an accident, and then follow through with your insurance representative. Insurers who do not receive a required report within 24-48 hours may have the ability to cancel your policy.
In addition, contacting your insurer will help them be proactive in getting in front of any claims that have been filed as a result of the accident. They’re on your side. Provide as much information as possible as soon as possible. Insurance companies are also familiar with state accident paperwork and so may be of assistance when it’s time for you to fill out or file the forms.