ValuePenguin analyzed car insurance quotes in 78 cities in Texas from 11 companies to identify the cheapest insurers and rates in the state. Our analysis showed a wide range in costs from company to company.
For example, in Houston, the difference between the cheapest and the most expensive company was $696 a year. This is why to get the right rates, consumers should shop around. Enter your zip code above now to start shopping for great auto rates in your area among the top U.S. insurers, or read more by clicking directly on each section below.
Cheap Car Insurance in Texas
Cheapest Car Insurance in Texas: by City
Best Auto Insurance Companies in Texas
What’s the Average Cost of Car Insurance in Texas?
Cheap Car Insurance Companies in Texas
To identify the cheapest companies, we reviewed auto liability insurance quotes for a sample driver in Texas and then ranked them based on their average across 78 cities. Here are the five companies with the best auto insurance rates in Texas:
This graph identifies and ranks the five companies in Texas with the best rates for insuring our sample drivers’ cars
Find the Cheapest Auto Insurance Quotes in Your Area
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The cheapest car insurance companies in Texas include Texas Farm Bureau, GEICO, Progressive, State Farm, and Mercury. Overall, Texas Farm Bureau had the best rates, but it does require a membership fee.
Here are the average rates across 78 cities for our sample driver, a thirty year old single male with a clean driving record. While your actual quotes will depend on where you live and park your car, as well as how you’ve driven, these companies are a good place to start finding low cost insurance. The same driver will get different quotes from different companies. Comparing quotes from at least three companies is the best way to get good rates. Start by entering your zip code below to see what top US insurers are covering your area.
Company Yearly Rate
Texas Farm Bureau $1,210
State Farm $1,501
21st Century $2,429
Kemper Security $5,003
Cheap Car Insurance in Texas: by City
We analyzed auto liability insurance rates in each city to identify the top three insurers with the lowest rates. In the table below, we’ve prepared a list of 78 largest cities in Texas along with the city’s three lowest cost insurers and average annual premiums to give drivers a sense of costs. Rates are averaged for a single 30 year old with a good credit score and driving history.
Note that USAA ranked in the first or second spot in almost all cities, but we’ve excluded them from this table because the company only serves military and affiliated members. Below is also a deeper dive by the largest cities of the most affordable insurers by age and marital status to give drivers a further idea of the going rates for auto insurance. We’ve excluded USAA from the city specific tables as well.
City Company Yearly Rate
Allen Texas Farm Bureau $1,032
Alvin Texas Farm Bureau $1,200
State Farm $1,392
Amarillo Texas Farm Bureau $1,320
Arlington Texas Farm Bureau $1,248
Austin Texas Farm Bureau $1,044
Baytown Texas Farm Bureau $1,284
Bedford Texas Farm Bureau $1,020
Brownsville GEICO $1,099
State Farm $1,500
Burleson Texas Farm Bureau $1,128
Carrollton GEICO $1,372
Texas Farm Bureau $1,524
Cedar Hill Texas Farm Bureau $1,224
Cedar Park Texas Farm Bureau $1,068
College Station Texas Farm Bureau $960
Converse Texas Farm Bureau $924
Coppell Texas Farm Bureau $1,032
Corpus Christi GEICO $1,079
Texas Farm Bureau $1,164
Cypress Texas Farm Bureau $1,236
Dallas GEICO $1,288
Texas Farm Bureau $1,464
Del Rio GEICO $1,165
Texas Farm Bureau $1,176
Denton Texas Farm Bureau $984
Desoto Texas Farm Bureau $1,200
Dickinson Texas Farm Bureau $1,140
Eagle Pass GEICO $1,130
Texas Farm Bureau $1,260
El Paso Texas Farm Bureau $1,248
Euless GEICO $1,266
Texas Farm Bureau $1,308
Flower Mound Texas Farm Bureau $924
Fort Worth Texas Farm Bureau $960
Friendswood Texas Farm Bureau $1,104
Frisco GEICO $1,289
Texas Farm Bureau $1,440
Garland Texas Farm Bureau $1,140
Grand Prairie Texas Farm Bureau $1,308
State Farm $1,476
Grapevine Texas Farm Bureau $1,020
Harlingen GEICO $1,145
Texas Farm Bureau $1,224
Houston Texas Farm Bureau $1,284
State Farm $1,560
Humble Texas Farm Bureau $1,104
Irving GEICO $1,387
Texas Farm Bureau $1,464
Katy Texas Farm Bureau $1,284
State Farm $1,572
Keller Texas Farm Bureau $1,188
Kerrville Texas Farm Bureau $948
Killeen Texas Farm Bureau $984
Kingwood Texas Farm Bureau $1,284
Kyle Texas Farm Bureau $1,140
La Porte Texas Farm Bureau $1,176
Laredo GEICO $1,055
Texas Farm Bureau $1,536
League City Texas Farm Bureau $1,080
Leander Texas Farm Bureau $1,068
Lewisville GEICO $1,281
Texas Farm Bureau $1,368
Lubbock Texas Farm Bureau $1,116
Mansfield Progressive $1,274
Texas Farm Bureau $1,296
Mcallen GEICO $1,175
State Farm $1,500
Mckinney Texas Farm Bureau $1,212
Mesquite Texas Farm Bureau $1,332
Mission GEICO $1,130
State Farm $1,524
Missouri City Texas Farm Bureau $1,092
State Farm $1,476
New Braunfels Texas Farm Bureau $864
North Richland Hills Texas Farm Bureau $960
Odessa Texas Farm Bureau $1,212
Pearland Texas Farm Bureau $1,056
State Farm $1,404
Pflugerville Texas Farm Bureau $1,104
Pharr GEICO $1,201
State Farm $1,500
Plano Texas Farm Bureau $1,032
Red Oak Progressive $1,308
Texas Farm Bureau $1,392
Richardson Texas Farm Bureau $1,200
Richmond Texas Farm Bureau $1,092
State Farm $1,464
Round Rock Texas Farm Bureau $984
San Antonio GEICO $1,216
Texas Farm Bureau $1,368
San Benito GEICO $1,095
Texas Farm Bureau $1,428
San Marcos Texas Farm Bureau $960
Seguin Texas Farm Bureau $1,008
Spring Texas Farm Bureau $1,176
Sugar Land Texas Farm Bureau $1,092
State Farm $1,476
The Colony Progressive $1,288
Texas Farm Bureau $1,368
Tomball Texas Farm Bureau $1,236
Tyler Texas Farm Bureau $1,080
Victoria GEICO $1,032
Texas Farm Bureau $1,080
Waxahachie Texas Farm Bureau $1,116
Weslaco GEICO $1,270
Texas Farm Bureau $1,368
State Farm $1,488
Wylie Progressive $1,296
Texas Farm Bureau $1,320
Show All Rows
Policies in the Big D cost on average $2,457, but you can still save with cheap car insurance in Dallas if you know where to look. Start with Progressive, Texas Farm Bureau, and State Farm — the three cheapest insurers in Dallas based on our study. Quotes from these three companies are about 39% less than the Dallas composite.
Image shows the cheapest auto insurance companies in Dallas, Texas based on our quote comparison.
Paying for car insurance in Houston can cost an annual premium of $2,881, making it the most expensive in our study of Texas auto insurance. You can save money though by going with quotes from Texas Farm Bureau, Progressive, and State Farm. The three companies’ yearly average are about can save you 34 — 51% off of the average auto insurance rate in Houston.
Graph shows the five companies with the most affordable car insurance rates in Houston, Texas
Which companies have the cheapest auto insurance rates in Austin, TX? We suggest 30 year old drivers in Austin compare quotes starting at Texas Farm Bureau, Progressive, and GEICO based on our graph below. Auto insurance in Austin can cost drivers about $2,191 a year, which is about 6% less than elsewhere in the Lone Star state. At these three companies, however, drivers can save on average 44% versus the average city cost.
This graph shows the five best car insurance rates for our 30 year old driver in Austin, Texas
San Antonio, TX
In San Antonio, we have Progressive and Texas Farm Bureau sweeping the boards with the lowest rates, with State not far behind. It costs about $2,348 to insure your car in the Alamo City, Texas’s second largest city — about 7% more than the the state average.
This chart displays the five lowest auto insurance premiums we found for our driver living in and commuting in San Antonio, Texas
El Paso, TX
Despite being the sixth largest city in Texas, El Paso has a car insurance cost just lower than the average city in Texas. It costs just $2,239 a year to insure a car in a town that has been named one of the Happiest Cities to Work In, or one of America’s Safest Cities. Annual premiums are already 8% cheaper than the state average. Keep Texas Farm Bureau and Progressive in mind if you’re looking for cheap auto insurance in El Paso.
Here are the names and average premiums of the auto insurers in El Paso, Texas with the most affordable rates
Best Auto Insurance Companies in Texas
To find the best insurers in Texas, we’ll be looking at the companies with the fewest complaints compared to their competitors. These are thirty of Texas’s largest auto insurance companies, and are ranked based on their complaint index, which measures how many valid complaints the company gets compared to the average insurer. An index of 1.00 is average, and a number below 1, such as State Farm County’s index, is better (gets fewer complaints than the average company).
The best car insurance companies in Texas with the fewest complaints are the Hartford, State Farm, and Germania Insurance. The cheapest companies in our study, Foremost County Mutual, Allstate, and USAA, had lower than average complaints as well.
How much do people pay on average for car insurance in the state of Texas? $2,330, according to our data. Going into this number are rates for 78 cities in the Lone Star State for a thirty year old single male driver with a good driving history and credit score.
Auto Insurance in Texas: Minimum Liability Insurance Requirements
The absolute minimum you can have on a basic car insurance policy in Texas is liability protection for the categories and limits below. Other types of coverage such as collision and comprehensive, personal injury protection or medical payments coverage, and uninsured motorist coverage are optional in Texas.
Bodily Injury (BI) Liability Insurance: $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident
Property Damage (PD) Liability Insurance: $25,000 per accident
We always advise drivers to purchase as much coverage as they have in assets to protect themselves. That’s because if you’re involved in a serious car accident, your insurer will only cover you up to the amounts on your policy. Any medical bills or car repair costs that exceed your car insurance limits, you would be on the hook for. That’s true whether you live in Houston, which the Texas Department of Transportation recently reported had 67,000 car crashes, or Adrian, which reported just one this past year.
Methodology & Assumptions
Average rates are for illustrative purposes, as individual quotes will differ based on driving history, coverage sought, vehicle type, and other factors.
Data was obtained from the Texas Department of Insurance for a thirty year old single male driver across 78 cities. He owns his car and uses it primarily for work purposes, averaging about 12,000 miles annually. Insurance policies include Texas’s minimum auto insurance liability requirements: $30,000 for bodily injury liability per person (up to $60,000 per accident), and $25,000 of property damage (30/60/25 coverage) liability insurance, 50/100/50, as well as 100/300/100. Car insurance costs are based on a 2011 Toyota Camry four-door sedan, with 2.5 liter/4 cylinder engine.
Vehicle insurance (also known as car insurance, motor insurance or auto insurance) is insurance for cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other road vehicles. Its primary use is to provide financial protection against physical damage or bodily injury resulting from traffic collisions and against liability that could also arise from incidents in a vehicle. Vehicle insurance may additionally offer financial protection against theft of the vehicle, and against damage to the vehicle sustained from events other than traffic collisions, such as keying, weather or natural disasters, and damage sustained by colliding with stationary objects. The specific terms of vehicle insurance vary with legal regulations in each region.
Widespread use of the automobile began after the First World War in urban areas. Cars were relatively fast and dangerous by that stage, yet there was still no compulsory form of car insurance anywhere in the world. This meant that injured victims would seldom get any compensation in an accident, and drivers often faced considerable costs for damage to their car and property.
A compulsory car insurance scheme was first introduced in the United Kingdom with the Road Traffic Act 1930. This ensured that all vehicle owners and drivers had to be insured for their liability for injury or death to third parties whilst their vehicle was being used on a public road. Germany enacted similar legislation in 1939 called the «Act on the Implementation of Compulsory Insurance for Motor Vehicle Owners.»
In many jurisdictions, it is compulsory to have vehicle insurance before using or keeping a motor vehicle on public roads. Most jurisdictions relate insurance to both the car and the driver; however, the degree of each varies greatly.
Several jurisdictions have experimented with a «pay-as-you-drive» insurance plan which utilizes either a tracking device in the vehicle or vehicle diagnostics. This would address issues of uninsured motorists by providing additional options and also charge based on the miles (kilometers) driven, which could theoretically increase the efficiency of the insurance, through streamlined collection.
In Australia, Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance is a state-based scheme that covers only personal injury liability. Comprehensive and Third Party Property Damage insurance are sold separately.
Comprehensive insurance covers damages to third-parties and the insured property and vehicle.
Third Party Property Damage insurance covers damage to third-party property and vehicles, but not the insured vehicle.
Third Party Property Damage with Fire and Theft insurance additionally covers the insured vehicle against fire and theft.
Compulsory Third Party Insurance
CTP insurance is linked to the registration of a vehicle. It is transferred when an already registered vehicle is sold. It covers the vehicle owner and any person who drives the vehicle against claims for liability in respect of the death or injury to people caused by the fault of the vehicle owner or driver, but not for damage. A Compulsory Third Party Insurance is the coverage which covers the third party with the repairing cost of the vehicle, any property damage or medication expenses which are encountered as a result of an accident by the insured. This may include any kind of physical damage, bodily injuries or damage to property and covers the cost of all reasonable medical treatment for injuries received in the accident, loss of wages, cost of care services, and in some cases compensation for pain and suffering. Notably, the motorist or the insured is responsible for his own loss as he is not covered for any loss in such type of insurance.
In New South Wales and the Northern Territory CTP insurance is compulsory; each vehicle must be insured when registered. A ‘Greenslip,' another name by which CTP insurance is commonly known due to the colour of the form, must be obtained through one of the five licensed insurers in New South Wales. Suncorp and Allianz both hold two licences to issue CTP Greenslips – Suncorp under the GIO and AAMI licences and Allianz under the Allianz and CIC/Allianz licences. The remaining three licences to issue CTP Greenslips are held by QBE, Zurich and Insurance Australia Limited (NRMA). APIA and Shannons and InsureMyRide insurance also supply CTP insurance licensed by GIO. In addition to the Greenslip, additional car insurance can be purchased through insurers in Australia. This will cover claims that the standard CTP insurance cannot provide. This is known as a comprehensive car insurance.
A similar scheme applies in the Australian Capital Territory through AAMI, GIO and NRMA (IAL).
In Victoria, Third Party Personal insurance from the Transport Accident Commission is similarly included, through a levy, in the vehicle registration fee. A similar scheme exists in Tasmania through the Motor Accidents Insurance Board.
In Queensland, CTP is a mandatory part of registration for a vehicle. There is choice of insurer but price is government controlled in a tight band.
In South Australia, Third Party Personal insurance from the Motor Accident Commission is included in the licence registration fee for people over 17. A similar scheme applies in Western Australia, though there is only one CTP insurer, the Insurance Commission of Western Australia (ICWA).
Several Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec) provide a public auto insurance system while in the rest of the country insurance is provided privately [third party insurance is privatized in Quebec and is mandatory. The province covers everything but the vehicle(s)]. Basic auto insurance is mandatory throughout Canada with each province’s government determining which benefits are included as minimum required auto insurance coverage and which benefits are options available for those seeking additional coverage. Accident benefits coverage is mandatory everywhere except for Newfoundland and Labrador. All provinces in Canada have some form of no-fault insurance available to accident victims. The difference from province to province is the extent to which tort or no-fault is emphasized. International drivers entering Canada are permitted to drive any vehicle their licence allows for the 3-month period for which they are allowed to use their international licence. International laws provide visitors to the country with an International Insurance Bond (IIB) until this 3-month period is over in which the international driver must provide themselves with Canadian Insurance. The IIB is reinstated every time the international driver enters the country. Damage to the driver’s own vehicle is optional – one notable exception to this is in Saskatchewan, where SGI provides collision coverage (less than a $1000 deductible, such as a collision damage waiver) as part of its basic insurance policy. In Saskatchewan, residents have the option to have their auto insurance through a tort system but less than 0.5% of the population have taken this option.
International Motor Insurance Card (IVK)
Since 1939, it has been compulsory to have third party personal insurance before keeping a motor vehicle in all federal states of Germany. In addition, every vehicle owner is free to take out a comprehensive insurance policy. All types of car insurance are provided by several private insurers. The amount of insurance contribution is determined by several criteria, like the region, the type of car or the personal way of driving.
The minimum coverage defined by German law for car liability insurance / third party personal insurance is: 7.5 million euro for bodily injury (damage to people), .5 million euro for property damage and 50,000 euro for financial/fortune loss which is in no direct or indirect coherence with bodily injury or property damage. Insurance companies usually offer all-in/combined single limit insurances of 50 Million Euro or 100 Million Euro (about 141 Million Dollar) for bodily injury, property damage and other financial/fortune loss (usually with a bodily injury coverage limitation of 8 to 15 million euro for each bodily injured person).
According to section 4(1) of the Motor Vehicles Insurance (Third Party Risks) Ordinance (Cap. 272 of the Laws of Hong Kong), all users of a car, include its permitted users, must have insurance or some other security with respect to third-party risks.
Third-party vehicle insurance is mandatory for all vehicles in Hungary. No exemption is possible by money deposit. The premium covers all damage up to HUF 500M (about €1.8M) per accident without deductible. The coverage is extended to HUF 1,250M (about €4.5M) in case of personal injuries. Vehicle insurance policies from all EU-countries and some non-EU countries are valid in Hungary based on bilateral or multilateral agreements. Visitors with vehicle insurance not covered by such agreements are required to buy a monthly, renewable policy at the border.
Third-party vehicle insurance is a mandatory requirement in Indonesia and each individual car and motorcycle must be insured or the vehicle will not be considered legal. Therefore, a motorist cannot drive the vehicle until it is insured. Third Party vehicle insurance is included through a levy in the vehicle registration fee which is paid to the government agency Samsat (Sistem Administrasi Manunggal di bawah Satu Atap), which is responsible for cars and roads. Third-Party Vehicle Insurance is regulated under Act No. 34 Year 1964 Re: Road Traffic Accident Fund and merely covers Bodily injury, and managed by a SOE named PT. Jasa Raharja (Persero). The Indonesian government has a road insurance fund which includes life insurance for traffic accidents. The annual fee is called the Compulsory Contribution Fund for Traffic Accidents or Sumbangan Wajib Dana Kecelakaan Lalu Lintas Jalan.
A Sample Vehicle Insurance Certificate in India
Auto insurance in India deals with the insurance covers for the loss or damage caused to the automobile or its parts due to natural and man-made calamities. It provides accident cover for individual owners of the vehicle while driving and also for passengers and third party legal liability. There are certain general insurance companies who also offer online insurance service for the vehicle.
Auto insurance in India is a compulsory requirement for all new vehicles used whether for commercial or personal use. The insurance companies have tie-ups with leading automobile manufacturers. They offer their customers instant auto quotes. Auto premium is determined by a number of factors and the amount of premium increases with the rise in the price of the vehicle. The claims of the auto insurance in India can be accidental, theft claims or third party claims. Certain documents are required for claiming auto insurance in India, like duly signed claim form, RC copy of the vehicle, driving license copy, FIR copy, original estimate and policy copy.
There are different types of auto insurance in India:
Private Car Insurance – Private Car Insurance is the fastest growing sector in India as it is compulsory for all the new cars. The amount of premium depends on the make and value of the car, state where the car is registered and the year of manufacture. This amount can be reduced by asking the insurer for No Claim Bonus (NCB) if no claim is made for insurance in previous year.
Two Wheeler Insurance – The Two Wheeler Insurance in India covers accidental insurance for the drivers of the vehicle. The amount of premium depends on the current showroom price multiplied by the depreciation rate fixed by the Tariff Advisory Committee at the beginning of a policy period.
Commercial Vehicle Insurance – Commercial Vehicle Insurance in India provides cover for all the vehicles which are not used for personal purposes like trucks and HMVs. The amount of premium depends on the showroom price of the vehicle at the commencement of the insurance period, make of the vehicle and the place of registration of the vehicle. The auto insurance generally includes:
Loss or damage by accident, fire, lightning, self ignition, external explosion, burglary, housebreaking or theft, malicious act
Liability for third party injury/death, third party property and liability to paid driver
On payment of appropriate additional premium, loss/damage to electrical/electronic accessories
The auto insurance does not include:
Consequential loss, depreciation, mechanical and electrical breakdown, failure or breakage
When vehicle is used outside the geographical area
War or nuclear perils and drunken driving
The Road Traffic Act, 1933 requires all drivers of mechanically propelled vehicles in public places to have at least third-party insurance, or to have obtained exemption – generally by depositing a (large) sum of money to the High Court as a guarantee against claims. In 1933, this figure was set at £15,000. The Road Traffic Act, 1961 (which is currently in force) repealed the 1933 act but replaced these sections with functionally identical sections.
From 1968, those making deposits require the consent of the Minister for Transport to do so, with the sum specified by the Minister.
Those not exempted from obtaining insurance must obtain a certificate of insurance from their insurance provider, and display a portion of this (an insurance disc) on their vehicles’ windscreen (if fitted). The certificate in full must be presented to a police station within ten days if requested by an officer. Proof of having insurance or an exemption must also be provided to pay for the motor tax.
Those injured or suffering property damage/loss due to uninsured drivers can claim against the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland’s uninsured drivers fund, as can those injured (but not those suffering damage or loss) from hit and run offences.
The law 990/1969 requires that each motor vehicle or trailer standing or moving on a public road have third party insurance (called RCA, Responsabilità civile per gli autoveicoli). Historically, a part of the certificate of insurance must be displayed on the windscreen of the vehicle. This latter requirement was revoked in 2015, when a national database of insured vehicles was built by the Insurance Company Association (ANIA, Associazione Nazionale Imprese Assicuratrici) and the National Transportation Authority (Motorizzazione Civile) to verify (by private citizens and public authorities) if a vehicle is insured. There is no exemption policy to this law disposition.
Driving without the necessary insurance for that vehicle is an offence that can be prosecuted by the police and fines range from 841 to 3,287 euros. Police forces also have the power to seize a vehicle that does not have the necessary insurance in place, until the owner of the vehicle pays a fine and signs a new insurance policy. The same provision is applied when the vehicle is standing on a public road.
Minimal insurance policies cover only third parties (including the insured person and third parties carried with the vehicle, but not the driver, if the two do not coincide). Also the third parties, fire and theft are common insurance policies, while the all inclusive policies (kasko policy) which include also damages of the vehicle causing the accident or the injuries. It is also common to include a renounce clause of the insurance company to compensate the damages against the insured person in some cases (usually in case of DUI or other infringement of the law by the driver).
The victims of accidents caused by non-insured vehicles could be compensated by the Road’s Victim Warranty Fund (Fondo garanzia vittime della strada), which is covered by a fixed amount (2.5%, as 2015) of each RCA insurance premium.
Within New Zealand, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) provides nationwide no-fault personal injury insurance. Injuries involving motor vehicles operating on public roads are covered by the Motor Vehicle Account, for which premiums are collected through levies on petrol and through vehicle licensing fees.
In Norway, the vehicle owner must provide the minimum of liability insurance for his vehicle(s) – of any kind. Otherwise, the vehicle is illegal to use. If a person drives a vehicle belonging to someone else, and has an accident, the insurance will cover for damage done. Note that the policy carrier can choose to limit the coverage to only apply for family members or person over a certain age.
Romanian law mandates Răspundere Auto Civilă, a motor-vehicle liability insurance for all vehicle owners to cover damages to third parties.
Motor-vehicle insurance is mandatory for all owners according to Russian legislation.
South Africa allocates a percentage of the money from fuel into the Road Accident Fund, which goes towards compensating third parties in accidents.
Each motor vehicle on a public road to have a third party insurance (called «Seguro de responsabilidad civil»).
Police forces have the power to seize vehicles that do not have the necessary insurance in place, until the owner of the vehicle pays the fine and signs a new insurance policy. Driving without the necessary insurance for that vehicle is an offence that will be prosecuted by the police and will receive penalty. Same provision is applied when the vehicle is standing on a public road.
The minimal insurance policies cover only third parties (included the insured person and third parties carried with the vehicle, but not the driver, if the two do not coincide). Also the third parties, fire and theft are common insurance policies.
The victims of accidents caused by non-insured vehicles could be compensated by a Warranty Fund, which is covered by a fixed amount of each insurance premium.
Since 2013 it is possible to contract an insurance by days as is possible in countries such as Germany and England.
United Arab Emirates
When buying car insurance in the United Arab Emirates, the traffic department requires a 13-month insurance certificate each time you register or renew a vehicle registration.
Uninsured cars seized by Merseyside Police on display outside the force’s headquarters in 2006
In 1930, the UK government introduced a law that required every person who used a vehicle on the road to have at least third-party personal injury insurance. Today, this UK law is defined by the Road Traffic Act 1988, (generally referred to as the RTA 1988 as amended) which was last modified in 1991. The Act requires that motorists either be insured, or have made a specified deposit (£500,000 in 1991) and keeps the sum deposited with the Accountant General of the Supreme Court, against liability for injuries to others (including passengers) and for damage to other persons’ property, resulting from use of a vehicle on a public road or in other public places.
It is an offence to use a motor vehicle, or allow others to use it without insurance that satisfies the requirements of the Act. This requirement applies while any part of a vehicle (even if a greater part of it is on private land) is on the public highway. No such legislation applies on private land. However, private land to which the public have a reasonable right of access (for example, a supermarket car park during opening hours) is considered to be included within the requirements of the Act.
Police have the power to seize vehicles that do not appear to have necessary insurance in place. A driver caught driving without insurance for the vehicle he/she is in charge of for the purposes of driving, is liable to be prosecuted by the police and, upon conviction, will receive either a fixed penalty or magistrate’s courts penalty.
The registration number of the vehicle shown on the insurance policy, along with other relevant information including the effective dates of cover are transmitted electronically to the UK’s Motor Insurance Database (MID) which exists to help reduce incidents of uninsured driving in the territory. The Police are able to spot-check vehicles that pass within range of automated number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras, that can search the MID instantly. It should be noted, however, that proof of insurance lies entirely with the issue of a Certificate of Motor Insurance, or cover note, by an Authorised Insurer which, to be valid, must have been previously ‘delivered’ to the insured person in accordance with the Act, and be printed in black ink on white paper.
The insurance certificate or cover note issued by the insurance company constitutes the only legal evidence that the policy to which the certificate relates satisfies the requirements of the relevant law applicable in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Island of Guernsey, the Island of Jersey and the Island of Alderney. The Act states that an authorised person, such as a police officer, may require a driver to produce an insurance certificate for inspection. If the driver cannot show the document immediately on request, and evidence of insurance cannot be found by other means such as the MID, then the Police are empowered to seize the vehicle instantly.
The immediate impounding of an apparently uninsured vehicle replaces the former method of dealing with insurance spot-checks where drivers were issued with an HORT/1 (so-called because the order was form number 1 issued by the Home Office Road Traffic dept). This ‘ticket’ was an order requiring that within seven days, from midnight of the date of issue, the driver concerned was to take a valid insurance certificate (and usually other driving documents as well) to a police station of the driver’s choice. Failure to produce an insurance certificate was, and still is, an offence. The HORT/1 was commonly known – even by the issuing authorities when dealing with the public – as a «Producer». As these are seldom issued now and the MID relied upon to indicate the presence of insurance or not, it is incumbent upon the insurance industry to accurately and swiftly update the MID with current policy details and insurers that fail to do so can be penalised by their regulating body.
Vehicles kept in the UK must now be continuously insured unless a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) has been formally submitted. This requirement arose following a change in the law in June 2011 when a regulation known as Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) came into force. The effect of this was that in the UK a vehicle that is not declared SORN, must have a valid insurance policy in force whether or not it is kept on public roads and whether or not it is driven.
Insurer, and Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) / licence data, are shared by the relevant authorities including the Police and this forms an integral part of the mechanism of CIE. All UK registered vehicles, including those that are exempt from VED (for example, Historic Vehicles and cars with low or zero emissions) are subject to the VED taxation application process. Part of this is a check on the vehicle’s insurance. A physical receipt for the payment of VED was issued by way of a paper disc which, prior to 1 October 2014, meant that all motorists in the UK were required to prominently display the tax disc on their vehicle when it was kept or driven on public roads. This helped to ensure that most people had adequate insurance on their vehicles because insurance cover was required to purchase a disc, although the insurance must merely have been valid at the time of purchase and not necessarily for the life of the tax disc. To address the problems that arise where a vehicle’s insurance was subsequently cancelled but the tax disc remained in force and displayed on the vehicle and the vehicle then used without insurance, the CIE regulations are now able to be applied as the Driver & Vehicle Licence Authority (DVLA) and the MID databases are shared in real-time meaning that a taxed but uninsured vehicle is easily detectable by both authorities and Traffic Police. Post 1 October 2014 it is no longer a requirement to display a vehicle excise licence (tax disc) on a vehicle. This has come about because the whole VED process can now be administered electronically and alongside the MID, doing away with the expense, to the UK Government, of issuing paper discs.
If a vehicle is to be «laid up» for whatever reason, a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) must be submitted to the DVLA to declare that the vehicle is off the public roads and will not return to them unless SORN is cancelled by the vehicle’s owner. Once a vehicle has been declared ‘SORN’ then the legal requirement to insure it ceases, although many vehicle owners may desire to maintain cover for loss of or damage to the vehicle while it is off the road. A vehicle that is then to be put back on the road must be subject to a new application for VED and be insured. Part of the VED application requires an electronic check of the MID, in this way the lawful presence of a vehicle on the road for both VED and insurance purposes is reinforced. It follows that the only circumstances in which a vehicle can have no insurance is if it has a valid SORN; was exempted from SORN (as untaxed on or before 31/10/1998 and has had no tax or SORN activity since); is recorded as ‘stolen and not recovered’ by the Police; is between registered keepers; or is scrapped.
Road Traffic Act Only Insurance differs from Third Party Only Insurance (detailed below) and is not often sold, unless to underpin, for example, a corporate body wishing to self-insure above the requirements of the Act. It provides the very minimum cover to satisfy the requirements of the Act. Road Traffic Act Only Insurance has a limit of £1,000,000 for damage to third party property, while third party only insurance typically has a greater limit for third party property damage.
Motor insurers in the UK place a limit on the amount that they are liable for in the event of a claim by third parties against a legitimate policy. This can be explained in part by the Great Heck Rail Crash that cost the insurers over £22 million in compensation for the fatalities and damage to property caused by the actions of the insured driver of a motor vehicle that caused the disaster. No limit applies to claims from third parties for death or personal injury, however UK car insurance is now commonly limited to £20m for any claim or series of claims for loss of or damage to third party property caused by or arising out of one incident.
The minimum level of insurance cover generally available, and which satisfies the requirement of the Act, is called third party only insurance. The level of cover provided by Third party only insurance is basic, but does exceed the requirements of the act. This insurance covers any liability to third parties, but does not cover any other risks.
More commonly purchased is third party, fire and theft. This covers all third party liabilities and also covers the vehicle owner against the destruction of the vehicle by fire (whether malicious or due to a vehicle fault) and theft of the insured vehicle. It may or may not cover vandalism. This kind of insurance and the two preceding types do not cover damage to the vehicle caused by the driver or other hazards.
Comprehensive insurance covers all of the above and damage to the vehicle caused by the driver themselves, as well as vandalism and other risks. This is usually the most expensive type of insurance. Interestingly, it is custom in the UK for insurance customers to refer to their Comprehensive Insurance as «Fully Comprehensive» or popularly, «Fully Comp». This is a tautology as the word ‘Comprehensive’ means full.
Some classes of vehicle ownership, or use, are «Crown Exempt» from the requirement to be covered under the Act including vehicles owned or operated by certain councils and local authorities, national park authorities, education authorities, police authorities, fire authorities, health service bodies, the security services and vehicles used to or from Shipping Salvage purposes. Although exempt from the requirement to insure this provides no immunity against claims being made against them, so an otherwise Crown Exempt authority may chose to insure conventionally, preferring to incur the known expense of insurance premiums rather than accept the open-ended exposure of effectively, self-insuring under Crown Exemption.
The Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) compensates the victims of road accidents caused by uninsured and untraced motorists. It also operates the MID, which contain details of every insured vehicle in the country and acts as a means to share information between Insurance Companies.
Soon after the introduction of the Road Traffic Act in 1930, unexpected issues arose when motorists needed to drive a vehicle other than their own in genuine emergency circumstances. Volunteering to move a vehicle, for example, where another motorist had been taken ill or been involved in an accident, could lead to the ‘assisting’ driver being prosecuted for no insurance if the other car’s insurance did not cover use by any driver. To alleviate this situation an extension to UK Car Insurances was introduced allowing a Policyholder to personally drive any other motor car not belonging to him/her and not hired to him/her under a hire purchase or leasing agreement. This extension of cover, known as «Driving Other Cars» (where it is granted) usually applies to the Policyholder only. The cover provided is for Third Party Risks only and there is absolutely no cover for loss of or damage to the vehicle being driven. This aspect of UK motor insurance is the only one that purports to cover the driving of a vehicle, not use.
On 1 March 2011, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled that gender could no longer be used by insurers to set car insurance premiums. The new ruling will come into action from December 2012.
Investigation into repair costs & fraudulent claims
In September 2012, it was announced that the Competition Commission had launched an investigation into the UK system for credit repairs and credit hire of an alternative vehicle leading to claims from third parties following an accident. Where their client is considered to be not at fault, Accident Management Companies will take over the running of their client’s claim and arrange everything for them, usually on a ‘No Win — No Fee’ basis. It was shown that the insurers of the at-fault vehicle, were unable to intervene in order to have control over the costs that were applied to the claim by means of repairs, storage, vehicle hire, referral fees and personal injury. The subsequent cost of some items submitted for consideration has been a cause for concern over recent years as this has caused an increase in the premium costs, contrary to the general duty of all involved to mitigate the cost of claims. Also, the recent craze of «Cash for crash» has substantially raised the cost of policies. This is where two parties arrange a collision between their vehicles and one driver making excessive claims for damage and non existent injuries to themselves and the passengers that they had arranged to be «in the vehicle» at the time of the collision. Another recent development has seen crashes being caused deliberately by a driver «slamming» on their brakes so that the driver behind hits them, this is usually carried out at roundabout junctions, when the following driver is looking to the right for oncoming traffic and does not notice that the vehicle in front has suddenly stopped for no reason. The ‘staging’ of a motor collision on the Public Highway for the purpose of attempting an insurance fraud is considered by the Courts to be organised crime and upon conviction is dealt with as such.
Main article: Vehicle insurance in the United States
The regulations for vehicle insurance differ with each of the 50 US states and other territories, with each U.S. state having its own mandatory minimum coverage requirements (see separate main article). Each of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia requires drivers to have insurance coverage for both bodily injury and property damage, but the minimum amount of coverage required by law varies by state. For example, minimum bodily injury liability coverage requirements range from $30,000 in Arizona to $100,000 in Alaska and Maine, while minimum property damage liability requirements range from $5,000 to $25,000 in most states.