TexasSure Wraps Up Successful First Year
TexasSure Offers Consumer Tips for Avoiding Auto Insurance Headaches
June 9, 2009
AUSTIN - There are two sounds a motorist never wants to hear. First is the crush of metal or shattered glass when two vehicles collide. The second is the voice of the other driver telling you he doesn't have insurance.
It's a situation that plays out every day in Texas, where industry experts estimate that one in every five motorists fails to carry mandatory vehicle liability coverage. Thanks to TexasSure, Texas is delivering on its promise to do something about it: if you're not covered, you'll be discovered.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) joined forces last year to create TexasSure, a statewide database that matches up-to-date auto insurance policies from more than 200 insurance companies with more than 21 million registered vehicles. It gives law enforcement and county tax collectors a quick and easy way to verify whether a vehicle is insured.
State and local officials are tapping into the database in record numbers. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, more than three million queries are made to TexasSure every month.
"Motorists have overwhelmingly embraced the TexasSure database, especially given its 99 percent success rate of matching vehicles to their insurance coverage," said Rebecca Davio, TxDOT's Director of Vehicle Titles and Registration. "It's proving to be a tremendous resource for identifying those without insurance."
All 254 Texas county tax offices have access to the policyholder database, and DPS and law enforcement agencies across the state can tap into it, too. Officials typically do a computer check to verify insurance coverage when a motorist is renewing a car or truck's annual registration or during a routine traffic stop.
"We're pleased that our troopers have a new tool to find uninsured motorists," said Tom Vinger, spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety. "We hope the TexasSure program will help thwart uninsured drivers that drop coverage or use a fraudulent insurance card."
Consumers also are pleased to see steps being taken to address a problem estimated to cost Texans up to $1 billion a year for optional coverage to protect themselves against the uninsured. Consider what happened to Wade Graham, Paris, Texas, after he was hit by a driver whose vehicle was not insured.
"We found out a month later the other driver was actually uninsured, even though we had written down the information on their insurance card at the time of the accident. We were left with more than $17,000 in medical bills that should have been covered, had the other driver actually been insured," Graham said. "This TexasSure program is something we can definitely get behind, to help break the cycle of uninsured vehicles on our roads today."
Officials say that although no action is required on the part of the millions of responsible insured motorists who are correctly listed in the TexasSure database, there are some simple steps every consumer can take to minimize headaches and confusion when it comes to auto insurance:
- Carry adequate and up-to-date insurance. At a minimum, vehicle owners in Texas must carry liability insurance that covers $25,000 for each injured person (up to a total of $50,000 per accident) and $25,000 for property damage. The penalties for driving without liability insurance include a maximum fine of $350 and hundreds of additional dollars in court costs and fees. Repeat offenders also are subject to a two-year driver license suspension.
- Carry your proof of insurance card in your vehicle at all times. If you get pulled over, in most cases, the TexasSure database will indicate whether or not your vehicle is properly insured. However, Texas state law requires that you carry your proof of insurance card. Also check that your insurance card and policy are up-to-date. Proof of insurance is required for annual vehicle inspections, vehicle registrations, and some driver license transactions.
- Always get insurance information at the scene from all individuals involved in an accident. Even if you have exchanged information with the other parties involved in a traffic crash, it's always a good idea to ask a law enforcement officer to check the TexasSure database to confirm insurance information. Doing so may prevent future problems.
- Never skimp on liability coverage to save money. There are many factors and plan options that can lower your insurance premium without decreasing your liability coverage. Many insurance companies offer discounts for features that reduce your risks, such as air bags, anti-lock brakes and anti-theft devices. Lower rates also may be available to customers with good driving records or those who bundle their renters or homeowners and vehicle insurance policies. Shop around to find affordable plans that fall within legal guidelines. Consumers can explore the many coverage options available by going to www.helpinsure.com.
Texas is one of more than 30 states across the nation with a program designed to identify uninsured vehicles and protect the driving public. Over time, TexasSure expects to steadily reduce the number of uninsured vehicles and further protect consumers like Tina Morton.
"I was hit by an uninsured driver and hurt pretty badly. My insurance had a limit and did not cover all of the expenses, especially after two surgeries," said Morton. "If I sat down with an uninsured driver, I would tell them about my wreck and how it has cost me and my family. I am so glad a program like this exists to protect others from the small percentage of irresponsible people out there."
For more information, visit www.TexasSure.com or contact the Texas Department of Insurance Consumer Helpline at 1-800-252-3439.
TexasSure is a collaborative effort of the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR).
For more information, contact:
Tom Vinger, DPS at 512-424-2607
Jerry Hagins, TDI at 512-676-6595
Kim Sue Lia Perkes, TxDOT at 512-302-2076
Or visit www.texassure.com.
For more information contact: