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Minimum Auto Liability Limits to Increase in Texas

Photo of Randy Sorrels

On January 1, 2011, the minimum amount of automobile liability insurance coverage for Texans is going to increase. Under current Texas law, a driver must carry liability insurance limits of at least $25,000.00 for each injured person, $50,000.00 limits per accident, and $25,000.00 for property damage per accident. This particular coverage is often referred to as 25/50/25 coverage. The new law will require Texas drivers to carry 30/60/30 coverage.

The increase is coming into effect as a result of a 2007 law that called for a two-step approach to increasing the minimum limits of liability insurance in Texas. In April of 2008, the limits increased from 20/40/20 to the current limits of 25/50/25 as the first step. The second step will occur this coming January and will further increase the minimum limits to 30/60/30. Prior to the 2007 law calling for increases, the required minimum limits had not been adjusted since 1983.

According to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), "coverage must increase because liability limits no longer pay for all expenses after an accident." The spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas stated that "this added coverage will protect motorist from the rising costs of auto repair and emergency medical expenses." Alex Winslow, executive director for the consumer group Texas Watch, has also stated that Texas Watch supports the increase. The insurance industry also seems to be in support of the increase. It is rare to have the insurance industry and consumer watch-dog organizations in agreement with regards to the welfare of Texans. This appears to be one of those rare instances.

It seems that the increase is getting wide support because it will make a meaningful difference for Texans. Indeed, the purpose of requiring liability insurance coverage for all drivers is to protect the general public from being injured and damaged by an individual that does not have the resources to make the injured victim whole or repair/replace the damaged property. By requiring every driver to have at least some liability insurance, the public is better protected. By increasing the minimum limits required of all drivers in Texas, the public has an even greater chance of being able to shift all damages to the liable party.

As an attorney representing injured victims, I welcome the increase in liability limits. Far too often do we see devastating injuries and damages that go uncompensated due to the liable party only having the minimum limits of liability insurance coverage. By requiring all drivers to carry increased levels of liability insurance, the law will assist in preventing some of these situations. The law needs to keep pace with rising medical and automotive repair costs to ensure that our citizens have some recourse in the event that they are harmed by the negligence of another driver on the roads in Texas.

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