TEXAS – Texas State may average 22% for uninsured vehicles, but latest figures show that at least one out of four Texans, in most counties in the South Plains/Panhandle regions, do not have auto insurance.
To address such a disparity, the Texas departments of Public Safety, Motor Vehicles and Information Resources, and Insurance created an online state-wide insurance verification program called TexasSure, online at www.texassure.com, to lessen the number of motorists without insurance.
The same agencies have collaborated together to create a database connecting every registered vehicle in the state by its license plate, liability insurance policy and vehicle identification number. Through the program, tax assessors, collector and law enforcement officers will be enabled to verify the insurance status of any vehicle registered in the state.
In the South Plains/Panhandle region, state figures reveal that in Potter, Deaf Smith, Gray, and five other West Texas counties, at least 25% of vehicles are uninsured.
According to department spokesman Jerry Hagins, the figures exclude commercial vehicles since they are not yet covered by the online state-wide program.
Hagins also said that the state has begun sending letters to about 100,000 vehicle owners who are speculated to have insurance, but do not match records in registered insurance companies. After these specific owners are addressed, and their coverage status determined, the state will send a notification to car owners of an estimated 4.1 million vehicles without insurance. They will be warned that they violate state law and that minimum auto liability coverage will be required of them.
Hagins clarified that car owners who will receive this warning will not be asked why they do not have auto insurance, but that they will be give an alternative to rectify it.
Two years ago, state law required all automobile drivers to purchase at least liability insurance that includes coverage for damages and injuries caused by drivers.
Although TexasSure is still a new program, several law enforcement officers have expressed delight that this new system allows greater leverage in identifying whether a driver involved in an accident or is stopped in the middle of the road owns auto insurance or not.
State figures estimate that insured drivers in Texas shell out an additional $1 billion per year to avail of protection from uninsured drivers.
State officials are optimistic that this TexasSure program will prove effective even if some motorists weasel their way out by using fake proof-of-insurance cards or by availing of a month’s coverage so that they could renew their license plate number and corresponding registration requirement.