Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage in Texas

by Tim O’Hare

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There are nearly 17 million licensed drivers in Texas. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, roughly 25% of those drivers do not carry liability insurance. Although liability insurance is required by law, there will always be irresponsible drivers who choose to take a gamble, rather than purchase the required insurance.

In Texas, motorists who are caught driving without liability insurance can be fined on their first offense. Consecutive offenses could result in suspension of their driver’s license and even vehicle impounding. In the City of Dallas, uninsured drivers can have their car towed.

In an October 2011 Dallas Morning News article, Jerry Johns, president of the Southwestern Insurance Information Service in Austin, explained that in Massachusetts, the state with the nation’s lowest percentage of uninsured drivers, uninsured drivers could spend up to a year in jail. Johns believes the potential for jail time is a “pretty good deterrent,” and that Texas should enforce similar penalties for driving without liability insurance.

The financial consequences of driving without insurance aren’t the only potential consequences. In the event of an accident where physical injury or property damage occurs, lack of insurance can be devastating to all parties involved. Since 1977, the Texas Insurance Code mandated that all insurance companies doing business in Texas offer uninsured motorist protection as well as underinsured motorist protection. Essentially, drivers who do have insurance, are covering uninsured and underinsured motorists with their policies when they take out Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists coverage. (Hit-and-run drivers are considered uninsured motorists.)

Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage applies to the policyholder and any family members residing in the same household, as well as passengers in the insured vehicle and anyone driving the insured vehicle with the owner’s permission. Uninsured and underinsured insurance coverage does not apply to vehicles owned by the policyholder that are not listed on the policy.

If you have been injured or have suffered property damage in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist, burden of proof falls on your insurance company to establish the negligent driver was, in fact, uninsured. In the event of injury or the unfortunate event of death in a car accident, working with a trusted personal injury attorney will ensure you receive all compensation due to you.  If you have been injured in a car accident, or have lost a loved one in a wreck, call us. The experienced legal team at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare will guide you through your case and ensure you get everything you deserve.

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