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No More Minimum Coverage For Drivers After Jan. 1

By Melissa Newton, CBS 11 News
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A major traffic jam. (credit: Getty Images/Jeff Topping)

A major traffic jam. (credit: Getty Images/Jeff Topping)

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After Jan. 1, the state of Texas will begin forcing drivers to carry higher liability coverage, which means all who carry minimum coverage should expect their policy’s price to increase by as much as three percent.

“Everything’s going up, and you know, you have to pay,” said Gloria Starnes of Fort Worth. “With the economy the way it is, I don’t see how they can keep raising the payments on everybody. Some people just can’t hardly make it now.”

The Texas Legislature mandated the change in 2007 partly because of frivolous lawsuits.

“Every so often the state Legislature will come in and mandate that insurance companies increase the liability coverage for various reasons,” said Allstate agent Anthony Sampson of Arlington. “When the policy renews they will definitely see that change at renewal.”

Currently, liability insurance covers up to $25,000 for medical expenses per injured person, $50,000 per accident and $25,000 for damages to the other person’s vehicle.

Starting next year, lawmakers have mandated that insurance cover up to $30,000 per injured person and $60,000 per accident. Damage coverage remains the same at $25,000.

“That’s giving them a little extra protection against lawsuits, repairs, and things along that line,” Sampson said. “We try to protect the client in the sense that we don’t want them to have a situation where they do not have enough coverage.”

The end result: Drivers will see their annual premiums rise two to three percent.

“It’s such a minimum change that you may not notice it,” Sampson said, “but it will be there and there will be questions.”

About 50 percent of drivers in Texas have the minimum liability insurance.

One in five drivers is currently uninsured, despite state law requiring coverage.

The state has launched a new website, http://www.helpinsure.com/, to help drivers find the best and cheapest plan.

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