Over the last forty or fifty years, the US has been changing – some of the time, for the better. Even some of the things we take as constants have changed, the best example being the dollar. Looking back to the 1960’s, the buying power of the greenback was quite surprisingly high. But thanks to inflation, the buying power has steadily ebbed away. In 1960, the dollar was worth $7.35 in modern values. So, even to keep pace with inflation, all our paychecks have had to rise. Yet, curiously, some values have not changed. Look around the states in the union. All but three have mandatory liability insurance, most with values set forty or fifty years ago. This produces an unusual result. When almost everything else connected to insurance from the cost of spare parts to the sums payable for medical treatment have been rising faster than inflation, the mandatory requirement has stayed the same. The gap between the coverage and the liability has been steadily widening. Many states have been ignoring the problem, leaving it to victims and their attorneys to decide whether it’s economic to sue drivers to recover the additional amount lost. But a few responsible states have been discussing the possibility of increasing the basic requirements.
So welcome to Texas, a state notorious for having one of the highest rates of vehicle theft in the US. In 2007, the lawmakers decided they must do something about the minimums which, at that time, stood at 20/40/25, i.e. $20,000 to cover physical injuries, a maximum of $40,000 payable in each accident, and up to $25,000 for damage to property. The state government decided on staggered increases so, in 2008, they rose to 25/50/25 and, on January 1st, 2011, they will rise to 30/60/25. This gentle uplift has passed almost unnoticed with insurance companies barely changing the premium rates above that needed to match inflation. Whereas other states like Wisconsin have seen quite large premium increases, it’s not expected there will be a major premium increase in 2011.
Even better is the news for high-risk drivers. Texas runs a pool for drivers whose records are so bad, they cannot easily find insurance with any of the usual carriers. The Texas state regulator has just announced the premium rates payable through the Automobile Insurance Plan Association will fall by 7.6% in 2011. This offers responsible high-risk drivers the chance to increase their coverage without any net increase in the premium payable. So if you are a Texas resident and cannot find any cheap car insurance because of your record, now is the chance to save some money through the state pool. Sadly, the coverage is still expensive when compared to the rates payable by the drivers with a safer record but, with rates falling for the mandatory minimum, it’s at least more affordable than now. For other drivers, using this site gives you the chance to find cheap car insurance. The general expectation is that premium rates will stay roughly the same as this year with inflation low and the economy slow.