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Unlicensed To Wreck

When a motor vehicle accident happens in Texas, there's a good chance that a motorist involved in the wreck is not insured. That's the continuing challenge for the state's program to reduce the number of uninsured drivers.


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Of the roughly 20-million vehicles on the road in Texas, 24-percent are not covered by insurance. It’s estimated that insured drivers pay an extra 1-billion dollars a year in protection from those who are not. State law enacted three years ago, requires all vehicle owners to buy at least liability insurance that covers injuries and damages caused by the driver. The problem is that motorists skirt around the law by using counterfeit proof-of-insurance cards.

That’s where TexasSure comes in. A database contains the names of all insured drivers and their insurance carriers, matched to the license plates and vehicle identification numbers.

Jerry Hagins with the Texas Department of Insurance, says it gives law enforcement an additional tool to verify whether the information they see on an insurance card is valid.

“In the past, we’ve had some problems with some people who would get a policy, get a card, and then cancel their insurance. And, there would be no way for the officer to know on the street, that that policy was no longer in service.”

Although TexasSure showed good results the first two years after it began in 2008, Hagins says new statistics compiled last month show that progress of getting more uninsured vehicles off the road has fallen.

“Other states that we had talked to, who had implemented similar programs, told us that it would take several years to see that number come down. So it’s a project that we knew going into it, was a long term effort.”

Drivers ticketed for lack of insurance face a 350-dollar fine for the first offense, and up to a thousand dollars the second time. Motorists with multiple offenses could be arrested.

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