Motorist Financial Responsibility Legislation Passes Texas House

May 16, 2005

Legislation establishing a program to improve enforcement of motorists’ financial responsibility obligations passed the Texas House of Representatives, according to its sponsor, Rep. Bill Callegari (Katy).

“Although state law requires that all Texas drivers maintain financial responsibility, thousands of motorists continue to drive and get in accidents on Texas roads each year,” Rep. Callegari said. “The measure that I passed in the House of Representatives requires the implementation of a program to better ensure compliance with this law.”

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, over 20 percent of Texas drivers carry no insurance while operating vehicles on state roads. This high number of uninsured motorists has costs Texans. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, in 2003 Texans paid approximately $861 million in premiums relating to uninsured motorist coverage.

As approved by the House of Representatives, Senate Bill 1670/House Bill 2573 requires the Department of Transportation, in consultation with the Department of Insurance and the Department of Information Resources, to develop a program for the verification of motor vehicle owners’ financial responsibility. The bill requires that the program operate reliably, be cost effective, and sufficiently safeguard the privacy of motor vehicle owners.

“This bill does not micromanage how the affected agencies are required to implement this program,” Rep. Callegari said. “Adding too much detail by way of statutory mandates can sometimes be counterproductive, and even hinder the effectual implementation of the Legislature’s intent. This bill avoids that pitfall by enunciating our expectations for a financial responsibility verification program and gives the agencies the necessary flexibility to implement it.”

Twenty-seven states have implemented programs similar to the one proposed in SB 1670. Of these states, the average uninsured motorist rate was 26 percent before the program’s implementation, while the average post-implementation rate was nearly nine percent. For example, in Utah, implementation of a similar program dropped its uninsured motorist rate from 23 percent of all drivers to 8 percent.

“For the past few sessions, the Legislature has continually tried to develop a program that improves motor vehicle owners’ compliance with state law,” Representative Callegari continued. “The bill past on Tuesday is a significant step towards our goal of reducing the number of uninsured motorists on Texas roads.”

Rep. Glenn Hegar (Katy), who co sponsored this legislation, noted “With one in four automobiles having no liability insurance on Texas roads, this legislation is a move in the right direction to protect our families, cut insurance premiums, and improve public safety. I strongly support Representative Callegari’s work on this legislation, because this is a victory for Texas.”

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