Each state has a mandatory minimum insurance requirement to get behind the wheel of an automobile. Just because it is a law, however, does not mean that everyone follows it.
In Texas, drivers are required to carry liability insurance. The minimum requirements in Houston are that you have coverage of $30,000 or more for each person that is injured, $25,000 for property damage and $60,000 total for any accident.
Texas is a “no-fault” state, which means that each party is responsible for covering the costs of their injuries and damages by taking out a personal injury protection policy. According to Texas attorney if two parties are in an accident, their own insurance coverage will deal with their policyholder’s injuries. Liability insurance or PIP insurance is a way for people to take care of their own injuries without being beholden to have someone else pay in Houston.
Other states with “at-fault” laws operate differently. At-fault states find someone at fault and negligent, and then it is the responsibility of the at-fault driver to cover damages and injuries to the other party. For at-fault states, if someone doesn’t have the mandatory minimum requirements, then the person who is not at fault is out of luck. For those states, people can protect themselves by taking out “uninsured motorist” coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage is an addendum or extended coverage that auto insurance companies have in place to cover their policyholder. If you take out the additional coverage and are hit by someone who doesn’t have insurance, the uninsured motorist insurance will pay for your injuries. There are also times when your own policy will cover your injuries when an uninsured person hits you, but unless you have collision insurance on your policy, then your property damage will likely end up being your problem.
Why does Texas have PIP insurance?
Texas adopted the PIP insurance so that it completely eliminates the potential for someone to be hit by another driver who isn’t carrying insurance. Since there is no such thing as uninsured motorist coverage, the insured person does not have to decide whether they want to add it to their policy to cover themselves. Since it is a no-fault state and everyone is responsible for themselves, no matter who was at fault, if you carry the insurance you are required to by law, then you won’t ever be caught holding the bag or in trouble.
PIP insurance only covers bodily injury. Therefore, if your car is damaged, no matter who is at fault, if you do not purchase the additional collision insurance (which is not mandatory), then you will be responsible for paying to repair your car or to incur the cost of any property damage. So, although you don’t have to be concerned with taking out uninsured motorist coverage, it is a good idea to have collision insurance to cover your property damage whether or not you caused the accident. The only way to have your car and property fully covered is through purchasing your own collision insurance.
Are the mandatory minimums enough?
Only you can decide how much you want an insurance policy to cover. Although there are mandatory minimums, in some cases your injuries will go over the minimum coverage, which can lead you paying for whatever is in excess. If an accident isn’t your fault and you don’t have enough to pay for your injuries because you took out a smaller policy, that can really sting. When you are deciding your policy limits, be realistic. It is always better to have more insurance when you need it than to fall short and not have it. The additional cost to add a higher policy limit and coverage might be well worth your while not to be left on the hook.
Since there is no such thing as uninsured motorist coverage in Houston, Texas, you might not have to worry about it, but you should consider things like increasing your minimum mandatory coverage and adding collision insurance to make sure that you aren’t left vulnerable if you have an accident in Houston.