Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Get the Lizard!

Hard numbers to back up what I already thought.

I believe in Bexar County the number is more like 35-40% uninsured at any given point in time.

No hard data, just my experience when *whisper* I had an insurance defense practice.

Uninsured drivers on road in big numbers
By Clay Robison - Houston Chronicle

AUSTIN — One in four drivers stopped by state troopers in Austin and Travis County for traffic violations this summer has been uninsured, and the percentage may be even higher in other parts of the state, an insurance industry spokesman said Monday.

“The numbers show that Texas has an even larger number of uninsured drivers than we had realized,” said Mark Hanna, spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas, which has been monitoring Texas' new auto insurance verification program.

“Troopers tell us that some areas of the state may have more than half of their drivers uninsured, and that's scary news for everyone else on our roadways,” he added.

Texas law requires every driver to carry liability insurance, and the minimum amount required was increased this spring for the first time in 22 years. Hanna said he didn't think the higher requirement was a factor in the lack of coverage because the effect on premiums was “minimal.”

But 25.5 percent of 5,012 drivers stopped by Texas Department of Public Safety officers in Travis County and small portions of nearby Williamson and Hays counties since June 2 have lacked insurance, he said.

DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange said the number of insured drivers has “always been a moving target.”
“We always thought it was somewhere between 20 and 25 percent,” she said, based on information provided by drivers in accidents. But this is the first verification program of its kind in Texas.

Travis County was selected for a 60-day pilot project testing the new TexasSure program, which allows police via computer to verify coverage status when they stop a motorist.

A $7 million contract with HDI Solutions Inc., an Alabama company that developed the database of insurance customers and driver's license records, is funded by a portion of the vehicle registration fee.

All uninsured drivers stopped by troopers during this testing phase, which will end in a few more days, were ticketed. Drivers who said they were insured but weren't carrying proof of insurance weren't issued citations if troopers, using the new technology, validated their insurance coverage.

“The program has worked the way it was supposed to,” DPS Lt. Louis Sanchez said.

After the pilot project has been completed, DPS will issue an evaluation report. Eventually, the program is designed to be available for use by police statewide, although it won't be mandatory.
The new minimum requirements for auto liability insurance in Texas are $25,000 of coverage for each injured person, up to a total of $50,000 per accident and $25,000 for property damage.

The previous minimum requirements were $20,000/$40,000/$15,000.

The new requirements were expected to increase the cost of liability coverage by 4 percent to 6 percent, although liability insurance is only part of the auto coverage for many drivers. Someone driving without liability insurance can be fined as much as $350 for a first offense and as much as $1,000 for subsequent offenses.