In the state of Texas, drivers must carry a minimum of $30,000 of liability coverage per person and up to $60,000 per accident. Motorists must also carry a minimum of $25,000 in property damage coverage. This will typically be written as 30/60/25, and it is generally in your best interest to buy a policy that exceeds this amount just to be safe. Of course, no insurance policy will be sufficient if you let it lapse. Let’s take a closer look at what happens if you get into a crash after your policy expires.
Expired Insurance Is the Same as No Insurance
The moment that your insurance policy expires, you cannot drive on any public road in Texas. Typically, a policy is no longer valid at exactly 12:01 a.m. on the day after the coverage period ends. For instance, if your policy ends on Dec. 31, it would no longer be valid at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1.
Your insurance card should tell you how long your coverage is effective, and you can talk to your agent if you have any questions about your policy. There is also a good chance that your most recent billing statement will tell you how long your coverage will last for.
Texas Is a Fault State
In a fault state, the insurance company of the driver who is deemed to have caused a crash will be liable for any damages that victims incur. The state of Texas uses a comparative fault system when determining liability in a car accident. This means that anyone who was less than 50% responsible for a wreck will be entitled to damages.
For instance, let’s say that you were found totally blameless for a crash that caused you to incur medical bills, lost wages and other financial losses. In such a scenario, you would receive 100% of whatever amount you are found to be entitled to. However, if you were found to be 40% liable for the wreck, you would obtain 60% of any compensation awarded in a settlement or at trial.
What Happens If You Cause a Crash After Your Insurance Lapses?
If you don’t have insurance, other victims can’t file a claim with your insurance company. Therefore, they will have no choice but to file a claim against you directly. Victims could be entitled to tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages or lost future earnings. You may also be liable for repairing or replacing any property that was lost, damaged or destroyed in the crash.
Personal assets such as a car, home or funds in a bank account may be seized to help satisfy any judgment rendered against you. If you don’t have sufficient assets to pay what you owe, a defendant may have the right to garnish wages or take ownership of any property that you might acquire in the future. Depending on the circumstances in your case, you could spend years, decades or even the rest of your life reimbursing an accident victim.
Does the Other Driver Have Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
If the other driver has uninsured motorist coverage (UIM), it may help pay some of the costs he or she may incur related to your negligent behavior. However, it’s important to note that there will likely be limits to the amount that such a policy will cover. You would still be responsible for paying the difference between the losses a victim incurs and what an insurance provider pays out.
What Happens If an Accident Isn’t Your Fault?
As a general rule, you are entitled to collect any damages made available under state law if you are involved in a crash caused by another party’s negligence. Therefore, even if you don’t have insurance, you can still file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company or directly against the other driver.
A Texas attorney will likely be able to provide more information about what you need to do to preserve your rights after an accident. For example, you may need to file a claim within several days after the crash occurs. Furthermore, Texas law generally requires you to file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of the date of the accident.
However, if you are incapacitated, incarcerated or a minor when the accident occurred, the statute of limitations clock may toll. An attorney will typically file a lawsuit on your behalf the day that he or she is hired to represent your interests. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t settle the case outside of court.
What Happens If Neither Driver Has Insurance?
In the event that neither driver has insurance, the driver who is deemed to have caused the accident will be liable for damages. As neither driver would have liability or UIM protection, the only way to obtain compensation would be by filing a claim against the responsible party personally.
Is Texas a No Pay No Play State?
Texas does not have a “no pay, no play” law currently on the books. What this type of law says is that people who don’t have insurance are only allowed to collect actual damages such as medical bills or lost wages in a car accident lawsuit.
You Could Face Other Penalties for Not Having Insurance
Even if you were not liable for a crash caused while you drove without insurance, operating a motor vehicle without at least 30/60/25 coverage is still a violation of state law. Therefore, you could be cited by authorities, which means that you could be subject to fines, points on your license or other sanctions.
If you have too many points on your license, it could be suspended or revoked for a period of several months. It’s worth noting that Texas authorities will communicate with authorities in the state where your license is issued. Therefore, your ability to drive could still be limited even if you leave Texas after causing a crash within its borders. Assuming that your license was issued in Texas, you may have to pay a $250 surcharge for three years on top of existing license renewal fees.
Allowing your existing coverage to lapse may also make it more expensive to get a new policy in the future. Your rates will also likely go up if you were liable for your accident and because you were cited for not having insurance when it happened.
How Can You Prevent Your Insurance Policy From Lapsing?
The easiest way to prevent your policy from lapsing is to make sure that you make your premium payments on time. You generally have the option of making payments on a monthly basis or once every six months. If you are billed automatically, money will be taken out of your bank account before your coverage lapses. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about taking action unless you want to change or cancel your policy for any reason.
In the event that a payment isn’t received by the due date, your coverage provider will likely send you a notice by mail. You might also receive a message in your email inbox or see a note attached to your customer dashboard if you access your account online or through your provider’s dedicated app. This notice will explain what will happen if payment isn’t made quickly and what your options are in the event that you allow the policy to lapse.
If you decide to purchase a new policy, make sure that the effective start date is prior to the end date of your existing coverage. In fact, it may be best to choose the day that you buy your policy as the effective start date. Your insurance company will issue you a credit for any unused portion of your policy if you buy a new policy before your current one expires.
Your insurance policy may no longer be valid if your car’s registration expires. You will typically get a notice from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) several weeks before this is set to happen. To save time, it may be best to complete the registration process online.
Your Insurance Policy Could Be Nullified for Other Reasons
An auto insurance policy will likely be terminated after a conviction for impaired driving. The same may be true if you amass several parking tickets or other traffic citations in a relatively short period of time. This is because you are deemed to be a greater risk of filing claims in the future, which costs your provider money. You may be able to mitigate some of this risk by going to traffic school or taking other actions to put your insurance company’s mind at ease.
If your auto insurance lapses for any reason, you cannot drive your car for any reason. Even if you do not get into an accident, you could still be cited by police, and a citation for allowing your insurance to lapse may make it harder to get a new policy. In the event that you do cause an accident, you may be personally liable for damages. Ideally, you will consult with an attorney following a car wreck that occurred after your insurance lapsed whether you caused it or not.