When driving a State of Texas registered vehicle, insurance is required at all times.
Texas minimum car insurance requirements are:
- Auto Insurance policy with limits of at least 30/60/25 – meaning:
- Liability coverage
- $30,000 of bodily injury to another person
- $60,000 of bodily injuries to all other persons
- $25,000 of injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident
Personal Injury Protection and Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance are recommended but not required. One in five Texas drivers is uninsured, and the only way to protect against the damage uninsured drivers cause is through specified insurance.
Alternative Options to Insurance:
Self Insurance Certificates are available in Texas if the following requirements are met:
- You or your company must have at least 26 registered vehicles
- You must qualify by application through the Department of Motor Vehicles
- Cash deposit of at least $55,000 with the state comptroller
- Cash or cashier’s check deposit of $55,000 with your county judge
- Liability bond for at least the amount covered by a standard liability policy
Required Proof of Insurance in Texas
Insurance Card provided by insurance company including all of the following:
- Name of Insurance Company
- Insurance Policy Number
- Effective Date/Expiration Date of policy
- Name and address of Insured Driver
- Description of all vehicles insured by the policy
Self Insurance certificates are issued by the state and must include the following:
- Certificate Number issued by Department of Licensing
- Effective Date of Certificate
- Accurate description of year, make/model of registered vehicle
- Name of driver covered by certificate
- Certificate of Deposit
- Certificate number issued by Comptroller or County Judge
- Name of driver covered by certificate of deposit
- Liability Bond
- Name of company issuing bond
- Bond number
- Name of driver covered by bond
Texas Department of Insurance
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 463-6169 in Austin
1(800) 578-4677 statewide
Obtaining a Driver’s License
Texas adopted a Graduated Driver License program in 2002 to ease young drivers into more responsibility as they get accustomed to controlling a motor vehicle. The program is for drivers 15 through 18 years old. The program has two phases.
Here are the requirements to obtain your Phase One license if you are under 18:
- Be at least 15 years old
- Hold and maintain a valid learner or hardship license for at least six months. If a learner license is suspended or revoked, the six month period must be completed when the suspension has ended.
- Be accompanied by a person who is at least 21 years old.
- Enroll in a driver education program.
To move on to Phase Two, drivers must:
- Be at least 16 years old
- Complete the classroom and driving skills portion of a driver education course
- Hold a valid Phase One license for at least six months
Under a Phase Two or provisional license, drivers have a few restrictions for the first year after the license is issued:
- Drivers may not drive with more than one unrelated passenger under 21.
- Drivers may not drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless in sight of their parent or guardian or unless driving in an emergency situation or a school- or employment-related activity.
- Drivers may not talk on a cellular phone, text, or otherwise use a wireless communication device unless experiencing an emergency.
All first-time applicants 18-24 who do not have a current license from another state must provide proof of an Adult Driver Education course. This can either be a full driver education course or a state-approved six-hour safety course.
Once you meet the requirements, visit your local DMV and apply for a driver license. Bring the following:
- Documents that can verify your identity, such as a current passport, or a birth certificate and both a social security card and school ID card or report card. For a complete list of acceptable documents, go to State of Texas
- Documents that prove U.S. citizenship or lawful residence.
- If under 18, a verification of enrollment and attendance (VOE) from your school.
- If under 18, parental authorization.
- If applying for a Phase Two or full license, proof of completion of a state-approved driver education course.
- Proof of social security number.
- Proof of Texas vehicle registration and insurance on all vehicles you own.
- A completed application, available for download here application
- A fee in cash, money order, or check.
- A fully-registered and insured vehicle with which to pass the driving exam.
At the DMV, you must:
- Consent to be photographed and fingerprinted, and you must provide your signature.
- Pass the written, driving and vision examinations.
Completing Driver Education
When a child reaches the age of 15, they may enroll in a state-approved driver education program. Learning the basics of driving safely early on can establish good driving habits, which in turn can enable drivers to qualify for some of the best car insurance rates in Texas. All drivers under 18 must enroll in a course that offers both classroom and behind-the-wheel training. Parents may choose to use the Parent-Taught Driver Education program offered by the Department of Motor Vehicles. A checklist demonstrating differences between parent-taught and classroom-based education is available on the DMV’s website.
Adults 18-25 applying for first-time licenses must complete either a full driver education course or a six-hour state-approved course.
To complete a program a student must meet the following:
- Complete a minimum of 32 hours of classroom time in no fewer than 16 days.
- Seven hours of behind-the-wheel driving time with an instructor, seven hours of driving observation with an instructor, and 20 hours of additional driving time, with 10 of those hours being at night, as observed by a parent or guardian.
You can also check if your student’s school offers any driver training programs. These programs meet the state requirements and have licensed instructors.
Knowing the Rules of the Road (use, disregard, or change information as needed)
Texas provides their rules of the road online. Carefully obey these rules to avoid tickets and accidents, and to quality for the lowest auto insurance rates in Texas.
- Alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles: Penal Code 49.031
- Cell phone use in school zones: 545.425
- Child passenger restraints and penalties: 545.412
- DWI – Driving While Intoxicated: Penal Code 49.04
- Minimum speed: 545.363
- Mopeds, EPAMDs, and motorized scooters- operation on roadway: 551.103
- Motorcycles 545.416
- Reckless driving: 545.401
- Riding in the back of a truck or trailer: 545.414
- Seat belt requirements: 545.413
- Speeding and maximum speed limits: 545.351
- Unattended motor vehicle: 545.404
Residents of Texas typically will be categorized as a certain kind of driver based on their driving history. Drivers with a history of accidents and tickets will be labeled high-risk, which means they’ll have to pay more than the average cost of car insurance in Texas for coverage, while drivers with no history of accidents or tickets are less expensive to insure and are part of the standard market. These drivers will enjoy the best auto insurance rates in Texas.
Know Your Rates
Texas law places certain requirements on insurance companies, but they come up with their own rates and submit them for review to the Texas Department of Insurance. Companies do not seek approval from the TDI before setting rates, but if the TDI finds rates too high, they can order a company to issue refunds. Companies base rates on several factors and look at all the drivers in a household to determine what insurance premiums will be:
- Age. Male drivers under 25 and female drivers under 21 will pay the highest rates because studies have shown that younger drivers tend to be involved in more collisions.
- Driving record and claims history. If you have had multiple accidents, tickets, and insurance claims, you are considered a riskier driver to insure, and your rates will go up. In some cases, a good driving record can lead to discounts.
- Make, model, and year of the vehicle. Rates are highest for luxury, high-performance and sports cars, and for those that damage easily or are expensive to repair.
- What your vehicle is used for. Rates for cars that are driven only for a driver’s pleasure are lower than rates for cars that are used to drive regularly, such as for driving to and from work.
- Credit history. While insurance companies cannot refuse to insure drivers solely for a poor credit score, your credit history can be a factor in determining rates. This means that the better your credit score, the higher your chance will be of getting low cost car insurance in Texas.
- Whether you drove previously without insurance. If you drove uninsured in Texas for more than 30 days in the year prior to applying for insurance, companies may charge you more.
Lower Your Rates
Some of the factors that determine your insurance rate are out of your control, but there are some things you can do to get and keep your rate as low as you can. The Texas Department of Insurance offers a few tips to consumers as they shop around and compare auto insurance rates in Texas.
First, before you make calls to insurance companies, decide ahead of time what coverage you need. Before you decide on a policy, get quotes from several companies. Be truthful about your information and circumstances. Don’t necessarily go with the company that offers you the lowest rate- consider other factors, such as a company’s financial rating, complaint history, and license status. If you need help finding this information, call TDI’s consumer help line at 1(800) 252-3439 or visit www.tdi.state.tx.us.
Rates are made up of both monthly premiums and deductibles that are paid only when an incident occurs. Consider increasing your deductible, or the amount you’ll pay out of pocket when you file a claim, to lower your monthly rates.
Ask your insurance agent or broker about discounts you may qualify for. Companies often offer discounts for:
- Taking a defensive driving course, or a driver education course for young drives
- Students with good grades
- Families with students who are living elsewhere without a vehicle
- Multiple vehicles on a policy
- A package policy that also includes homeowner insurance
- Car safety features, such as airbags, automatic seatbelts, automatic daytime lights, antilock brakes and anti-theft devices.
Picking an Insurance Agent/Broker
Insurance agents who work for insurance companies aim to sell policies for commission. Insurance brokers, on the other hand, do not represent a company. They work with individual clients, assessing their clients’ needs and finding different insurance policies that fit them best. Brokers also receive a commission for the sales they make from different insurance companies. Both types of experts can help you find the best car insurance in Texas to suit your needs.
Whether you use an agent or broker, make sure that they are licensed to sell insurance in Texas. You can look up a company or agent’s license on the Texas Department of Insurance’s website. In addition, you can request information from the TDI about how many complaints have been filed against a particular agent or broker. They can also tell you about a company’s financial standing and tell you how many times they have faced disciplinary actions.
The TDI also provides consumers with an online resource page, which allows insurance shoppers all the information they need to make an informed decision.
After an Accident
Accidents aren’t fun for anyone, but there are steps you can take to make them easier on everyone involved. The Texas Department of Insurance has a list of recommendations to drivers who get in an accident on Texas roads.
First, state law requires drivers who are able to move their vehicles to move them off the roadway to avoid blocking traffic and protect them from additional damage. Call local law enforcement, the county sheriff or state troopers if someone was injured or killed, the cars can’t be cleared off the roadways, or to later file an accident report.
Exchange and share key information with all drivers involved in the accident, even if they have no car insurance in Texas. You’ll need to get their name, address, telephone number, license plate number, drivers license number, complete name of their insurance company, and full insurance policy number. If there are any witnesses to the accident, get their name, address and phone number.
Call your insurance company as soon as you can, even if you weren’t at fault. Most companies have a 24-hour number that can be dialed. Your agent will explain your policy and claims process to you and can help you through the repair process. They will need a copy of any accident report filed. By law, companies must respond to your claim within 15 days of when it was filed. If they accept your claim, they must send a check or draft within five business days of accepting your claim. If they reject your claim, they must explain the rejection in writing.
Insurance for High-Risk Drivers
Some drivers who are deemed more likely to cause an accident than others may have a difficult time obtaining insurance from the traditional market. Drivers with a history of accidents or tickets for moving violations may be deemed high-risk, as will those who have been convicted of involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence, criminally negligent driving or driving without a license or with a suspended license.
If two insurance companies have turned you down for coverage, you can qualify for liability coverage through the Texas Automobile Insurance Plan Association, or TAIPA. TAIPA also offers drivers personal injury protection insurance and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which must be turned down in writing if you choose not to get them. To get TAIPA, apply with a licensed insurance agent.
To learn more about TAIPA, visit www.taipa.org/tfaq.aspx.
The Texas Department of Insurance provides aid to consumers as they shop for insurance. They can answer general insurance questions and provide you with information about how to file a complaint against your company or agent, though they ask you try to settle disputes with the company directly if at all possible. A consumer help line is available to Texans from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling 1(800) 252-3439. On the department’s auto insurance homepage, there are several resources available to help Texas drivers, including a Personal Automobile Insurance Consumer Bill of Rights.