How Texas Deals With Uninsured Motorists

Monday, June 12, 2017

uninsured motoristsFor almost every driver in the United States, auto insurance is mandatory. Despite that, more than 30 million people don’t have it.  The Insurance Research Council estimates that these drivers cost $2.6 billion in uninsured motorist claims in the year 2012 alone. In Texas, 20% of the vehicles, that’s 1 in every 5 cars and trucks have no insurance coverage. This results in law-abiding Texans paying an estimated $1 billion annually in optional insurance coverage to protect themselves against uninsured motorists. Many states have experimented with different ways of battling uninsured driving, with the goal of lowering insurance costs and increasing public safety. There are a handful of methods used to verify auto insurance, but two of the more common systems involve requiring auto insurance companies to report inactive, lapsed, or cancelled accounts and requiring drivers to present their insurance information if pulled over by a police officer. These two measures are executed in every state, but approximately 12 states have taken verification a step further. By consolidating insurance information and vehicle registry data for quicker reference, insurance verification programs are one way to catch uninsured motorists, and help maintain cheap car insurance for everyone.

uninsured motorists 2Texas is one such state, creating the car insurance verification database TexasSure. TexasSure is Texas’ financial responsibility verification program, and was developed by the Texas Department of Insurance. This program allows law enforcement officers and designated state users to immediately verify whether a vehicle is insured. Now, law enforcement officers and other state users have real-time immediate access to insurance information on a given vehicle at their fingertips. The database connects every registered vehicle in Texas by its vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate and liability insurance policy. Every time you start a policy, or your policy gets cancelled, it gets reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you have proven financial responsibility through an automobile insurance policy, your insurance company will report that information to the state. No action is required on your part unless you are contacted, but you should verify that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) physically showing on your vehicle is the same as that shown on both your insurance policy and vehicle title and registration.

uninsured motorists 3Texas has the same problem as other border states. Traffic going back and forth over the border is so frequent and heavy that it is almost impossible to keep track of uninsured motorists. Several states, including Colorado, Nevada and Utah, have successfully reduced the percentage of uninsured drivers from middle double digits to single digits, through the use of a database verification program. Have these programs proven effective so far? Jerry Hagins, an insurance officer working with the Texas Department of Insurance, states that “The rate was 24.28% when we first started measuring, and 14.04% in June 2014. It hasn’t been a steady decline at every measuring point, but over six years we have seen a 10% reduction.” Ohio’s has also implemented the verification program and found a 9% reduction in uninsured motorists within its first year.

TexasSure is popular with legislators and has been accepted by both government officials and the media. As long as there are uninsured motorists, officers will try to catch them, and verification programs have been a valuable part of this struggle. The National Association of uninsured motorists 4Insurance Commissioners has found that enforcement of strict penalties associates with lower rates of uninsured driving, and identifying uninsured drivers is the first step in this process. However, while the cost of uninsured motorist coverage can be dramatically reduced through compliance with the TexasSure program, there is and always will be a need for uninsured motorist coverage to protect against those uninsured motorists that slip through the system. Review your policy every six months and make sure you are protected with the best cheap car insurance you can find.

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