Texas drivers with minimum liability insurance are going to see their rates increase on January 1, according to the Texas Department of Insurance.
The rising costs of automobile repairs and medical expenses associated with car accidents spurred the increase, said Jerry Hagins, a department representative.
About 7.5 million Texas motorists with minimum liability insurance will see their premiums, averaging about $450 a year, increase by 2 to 3 percent in 2011. Drivers will now also be required to have insurance that covers up to $60,000 per accident, $30,000 for each person injured, and $25,000 for vehicle repairs.
However, in a trade off, Hagins said high risk drivers will see their premiums decline by 7.6 percent next year since those rates have steadily increased in recent years.
Currently, about half of Texas drivers have the minimum amount of automobile liability insurance, while 30 percent of drivers carry more than the minimum. The remaining percentage have no car insurance, according to the National Underwriters news service, although it may be increasingly difficult for uninsured drivers to stay under the radar as Texas recently acquired a new database that will help enforce car insurance laws.
The premium increase is the second in a set mandated by legislation passed in 2007 that called for boosting the states minimum insurance requirement. Before the first raise in 2008, the minimum had not altered in 25 years.
A study released by Insure.com earlier this year found that Louisiana had the most expensive car insurance premiums in the nation, costing about $2,510 a year, while Texas ranked at 24, with premiums averaging approximately $1,462 annually. Maine had the cheapest insurance rates, due to its small population, rural surroundings and short commute times that helps lower accident claims, with premiums averaging $903 a year.