Do you need uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in Texas?
Although Texas requires drivers to have minimum levels of liability insurance, drivers in Texas do not have to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. However, the state requires insurance companies to offer it, and you likely have this coverage unless you turned it down in writing.
What Does Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Pay For?
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in Texas provides a financial safety net for drivers involved in accidents with other motorists who either have no insurance or don’t carry enough to pay for any damage they cause. It also covers a hit-and-run driver. A UM/UIM policy provides the following:
- Medical expenses – UM/UIM coverage helps pay for medical bills for injuries you and your passengers suffer in a crash with an uninsured or underinsured driver. This includes hospitalization, surgeries, doctor visits, and rehabilitation expenses.
- Property damage – If your vehicle sustains damage in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, this insurance coverage helps pay for the repair or replacement of your car. It also covers damage to property inside the vehicle, such as a cell phone or other belongings.
- Pain and suffering – Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage compensates for pain and suffering. This is compensation for the physical and emotional harm some injured individuals suffer following a traffic collision.
- Rental car – If your vehicle is undrivable, the cost of a rental car is covered. It also allows a rental car if your vehicle is in the shop being repaired.
- Diminished value – If your vehicle loses value after being in an accident, your uninsured/underinsured policy should cover the difference.
Although an uninsured/underinsured policy has a deductible, it normally costs much less than when you use your collision insurance.
How Much Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage Should I Get?
You can increase your UM/UIM in increments of $5,000 beyond the minimums. Increasing property damage coverage to cover your vehicle’s replacement value is a good idea. Some believe a minimum of $100,000 is appropriate due to the high cost of medical care and property damage repair.
What Are the Minimum Insurance Requirements in Texas?
Texas requires that liability insurance policies carry the following minimum limits:
- $30,000 per person for bodily injury
- $60,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $25,000 per accident for property damage
Because UM/UIM insurance effectively replaces the liability policy an at-fault driver should have but does not, the minimum amounts for these policies are the same as for liability insurance policies.
The cost of a serious accident can quickly exceed these minimums. That’s why it’s helpful for drivers to consider carrying UM/UIM policies above the minimum limits. The more coverage you have, the more protection you have in a collision with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
What Percentage of Drivers in Texas Do Not Have Insurance?
According to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), the state has a high rate of uninsured drivers at 12 percent. This gives you an idea of the extent of the problem in the state and the importance of maintaining UM/UIM insurance.
Does UM/UIM Coverage Cover Just the Policy Holder?
In Texas, UM/UIM coverage usually covers more than the policyholder. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, it may provide financial protection to the following people:
- The policyholder – The primary person named on the insurance policy has uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
- Family members – In many cases, coverage also extends to family members who live in the same household.
- Others driving with the policyholder’s permission – These authorized borrowers – for example, neighbors or coworkers who use the insured vehicle – may share in the coverage.
Will My Insurance Rates Go Up If I File an Uninsured Motorist Claim?
Filing a claim might cause your rates to go up, especially if you make frequent claims. Still, the cost of higher rates is a small price to pay for the protection afforded by a solid UM/UIM policy.
Does Texas Allow Stacking of Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Some car accident victims can combine different policies to increase their total payout. In Texas, insurance stacking is permitted if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on multiple policies. This dramatically increases your overall coverage.
A driver may purchase multiple UM/UIM policies under their name and then combine their coverage in the event of a collision. So if you have three separate policies, each with $50,000 in UM/UIM coverage, you can combine them for $150,000 of total UM/UIM coverage – unless it isn’t allowed under the terms of each policy. And remember, these policies should cover not just the policyholder but every household family member.
Can I File Both a Car Accident Claim and an Uninsured Motorist Claim?
You can file multiple claims with different policies and insurers. For example, you may be able to file uninsured/underinsured and personal injury protection (PIP) claims at the same time. You can file a claim against the driver’s insurance even if coverage is minimal. You can also turn in a collision claim against your own insurance. However, your insurer might demand reimbursement for the cost of your claim if you recover compensation through a lawsuit.
Contact a Texas Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve suffered injuries in a car accident in Texas and need experienced legal representation, get in touch with Fleming Law right away. Our dedicated team of Texas personal injury lawyers is here to advocate for your rights and fight for the compensation you need to move forward with your life. Your recovery and well-being are our top priorities. Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us work on your behalf to pursue the justice you deserve.
Nicholas P. Fleming focuses his practice in the area of civil litigation. As a skilled personal injury attorney, he handles a broad range of cases including motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, workplace accidents, and wrongful death. He is licensed to practice by the State Bar of Texas and is a graduate of the South Texas College of Law, earning his J.D. in 2017. Nicholas prides himself on providing personalized service to his clients, who are often facing extremely stressful situations.