Are you waiting for an accident to learn what your auto insurance will cover? It’s a good idea to know what the policy contains before a crash occurs and what to do if you have been hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Texas Law & Financial Responsibility for Car Accidents
Texas law requires motorists to be financially responsible and to have auto liability insurance to pay for any accidents they cause. However, many drivers do not take the time to understand their insurance coverage until after they are involved in a collision. Some drivers do not carry adequate insurance to cover the damage from the collision or to pay for damages caused by an uninsured motorist or a driver who does not have enough insurance coverage. If you are in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist or a motorist who does not have sufficient insurance, it is important to understand what you should do. Talk to a knowledgeable car accident lawyer about your legal options if you have been injured by another motorist. The car accident lawyers of Tate Law Offices, P.C. understand the fine print of auto insurance policies and will seek the maximum amount that you are entitled to collect.
The Basics: The Minimum Amount of Coverage Required in Texas
Under Texas law, you must have the following types of auto insurance coverage at a minimum. If you are involved in a crash and you are determined to be at fault, your insurance company will pay the claims of the injured parties up to the limits of your liability policy. The minimum required coverage is as follows:
- Liability Coverage: In the event that you are at fault in a traffic accident, your auto liability insurance pays certain expenses of the other motorists who were harmed including medical bills, car repair and/or replacement costs, car rental costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering up to the limits of the policy. Liability coverage will also pay certain legal fees and costs if someone sues you. The minimum required liability coverage is $30,000 per person, with a minimum upper limit of $60,000 per accident.
- Property Damage: As its name implies, property damage coverage pays for damage to the other motorist’s vehicle in the event that you are found to be responsible for causing the car accident. The minimum amount of property damage coverage required by law is $25,000 per accident.
These are simply the minimum coverage requirements. The front page of your policy shows the amount of each type of coverage you have and the deductible, as well as the people insured, such as other members of your family. Drivers can and probably should consider purchasing an auto insurance policy with higher coverage limits. In the event a driver is found responsible for causing a crash, any damages awarded to the victims of the crash in excess of the policy limits are the responsibility of the at-fault driver.
Additional Coverage Available for Texas Drivers
In addition to the minimum liability coverages required by the Texas Department of Insurance, Texas drivers may purchase additional coverage from their insurance companies. Some of the more common types of coverage include:
- Collision coverage: This pays for damage caused to your own vehicle in the event of a car crash. If you are making payments on your car, your lender will likely require that you have collision coverage so that the lender may be paid in the event that the car is totaled. You can also purchase GAP coverage, which pays the difference between the value of the car and the amount you owe on your car loan in the event your car is totaled.
- Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive coverage is designed to protect you, the car owner, in the event your car is damaged in any other way except in a car accident crash. For example, comprehensive coverage would pay for repair or replacement of your car if a tree fell on it or it was damaged by vandalism.
- Personal injury protection: Insurance companies in Texas are required to offer $2,500 in Personal Injury Protection coverage to purchasers of auto insurance. Unless you specifically declined this coverage in writing, you have it. PIP covers your medical bills and a portion of your lost income regardless of fault in an accident. It also cover other passengers in the car at the time of the accident.
- Medical payments coverage: This coverage pays for your medical bills and those of any passenger in the car at the time of an accident regardless of who was at fault. It also covers accidents involving a pedestrian or bicyclist.
- Uninsured/underinsured driver: UM/UIM coverage pays for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and permanent or partial disability if you are injured by an uninsured driver or a driver whose insurance coverage does not meet the legal requirements for minimum coverage. It also pays if you are struck by a hit-and-run driver.
- Rental reimbursement coverage: If you need to use a rental car while your car is in the repair shop following an accident, rental reimbursement coverage will cover the cost of this expense.
There are other policy riders that may be available depending on your insurance company. If you are concerned about what is and what is not covered, it is best to review your car accident policy. It is far more desirable to adjust your coverage before your accident so that you are covered in the event of a crash than to struggle to obtain compensation following a crash.
How Do Car Accident Insurance Claims Work in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston?
After you have been involved in a car wreck in Texas, your insurance company and/or the insurance company of the at-fault driver will need to be notified about the crash so that the claims process can begin. If the other driver was at fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance should pay for your losses up to the limits of the driver’s policy.
After the claim has been filed, the following process occurs:
- The claim will be assigned to an adjuster. The adjuster will contact you to get more information about the accident so that the insurance company can determine whether the claim is covered by the policy. The adjuster may ask you to provide a recorded or written statement about the crash.
- If it is determined that your claim is covered and should be paid, the insurance adjuster will offer you payment on your claim. The amount offered will likely be a low offer. The adjuster’s job is to attempt to settle your claim with you for as little as possible so that the insurance company is able to sustain as small of a financial loss as possible. If the insurance company offers you a settlement, it is a good idea to have a personal injury attorney review the offer to determine whether it represents the value of your claim.
- If the insurance company denies your claim, there is an internal appeals process where you can challenge the insurance company’s decision. A knowledgeable attorney can advocate on your behalf in negotiating with the insurance company. You may need to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and their insurance company to seek full compensation for your losses.
Where to Turn for Help After a Texas Car Accident
The Texas car accident lawyers at Tate Law Offices, P.C. have been helping injured drivers in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston – and throughout Texas – recover compensation and prompt payment of their claims following car crashes. Let us help you deal with the insurance companies and adjusters. Contact us today by telephone or online if you or a loved one has been involved in a car crash.