Texas’ Minimum Auto Liability Limits to Increase on April 1

March 25, 2008

The minimum amount of automobile liability insurance Texas drivers are required to carry for bodily injury/property damage will increase on April 1 from the current $20,000/$40,000/$15,000 (“20/40/15”) coverage to “25/50/25” coverage, according to the Texas Department of Insurance.

Texas law requires people who drive in Texas to be financially responsible for the accidents they cause. Most drivers do this by buying auto liability insurance. Liability insurance pays to repair or replace the other driver’s vehicle and pays the medical expenses of the other party; it does not pay to repair or replace the policyholder’s vehicle.

The current minimum amount of liability insurance required by law is $20,000 for each person injured in an accident, up to a total of $40,000 for everyone injured in an accident, and $15,000 for property damage per accident. The limits will increase on April 1 to $25,000 of coverage for each injured person, up to a total of $50,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage.

The 80th Legislature amended the current financial responsibility law in 2007 to increase the auto liability limits amid concerns that the current limits aren’t enough to cover the costs of an accident resulting in severe injury or major vehicle damage.

The limits will increase again on January 1, 2011, to $30,000 of coverage for each injured person, up to a total of $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident (30/60/25).

Drivers who carry minimum limits will begin to notice the new limits as they renew their auto policies or buy a new policy, but they won’t need to take any action unless contacted by their insurance company.

There are severe penalties for violating the state’s financial responsibility law. A first conviction will result in a fine between $175 and $350. Subsequent convictions could result in fines of $350 to $1,000, suspension of your driver’s license, and impoundment of your vehicle. The state of Texas will implement the new Texas Financial Responsibility Verification Program this spring that will allow law enforcement officers to immediately verify whether a driver has car insurance.

For more information about the new limits or automobile insurance coverage, visit the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) resource page at www.tdi.state.tx.us/consumer/financialrespon.html, read TDI’s Automobile Insurance Made Easy publication at www.tdi.state.tx.us/pubs/consumer/cb020.html or call the Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439.

Source: Texas Department of Insurance

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