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Automobile Insurance: What Are My Consumer Rights?

Automobiles

The Consumer Bill of Rights gives you the tools to understand your rights as a consumer and the insurance company's role as a service provider.

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI)'s Consumer Bill of Rights equips auto insurance consumers with a basic understanding of their rights and responsibilities. Learn essential information to help you make informed decisions as you navigate the process. 

What is the Consumer Bill of Rights?

Each time an insurance company issues a policy, their information tells you about your responsibilities, but does not fully explain your rights. Rights and responsibilities go hand in hand because when you do your part, the insurance company has to do theirs. So, The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) created the Consumer Bill of Rights to help the public understand the process and your insurance company is supposed to give you a copy when you buy your policy.

If your insurance company did not give you a copy or if they tell you that one of these rights does not apply to you, contact

  • TDI Consumer Protection at 800-252-3439, P.O. Box 149091, Austin, TX 78714-9091
  • Office of Public Insurance Counsel at 877-611-6742, 333 Guadalupe, Suite 3-120, Austin, TX 78701.

Why do I need it?

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that insurance is one of your five highest monthly bills, behind housing, transportation, food, and retirement. Then, if you have more than one type of insurance, the total can be more than your housing. Auto insurance can be hard to understand, and the less you know, the more you might end up paying. The Texas Department of Insurance wants to make it easier for you. 

What types of things does the Consumer Bill of Rights teach me?

The Consumer Bill of Rights is a powerful tool that will help you make wise choices when you buy auto insurance. You will learn that:

  • Texas only requires you to buy the minimum amount of insurance called “30/60/25.” That means $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 in property damage
  • These amounts do not cover your injuries or any damage to your vehicle. So, it is your choice to add other insurance like:
  1. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) to help with medical bills up to $2500
  2. Collision – covers damage to your car
  3. Comprehensive – covers damage from weather, theft, and vandalism
  4. Underinsured motorist – covers you when the other person does not have enough insurance
  5. Uninsured motorist – covers you when the other person has no insurance
  • If two or more companies would not let you buy insurance because of your record, the Texas Auto Insurance Plan Association (TAIPA) offers a “safety net” which lets you buy insurance through them so that you can obey Texas state law.
  • If you get married or divorced, you can ask your insurance company for new policy of your own with similar coverage and the same ending date.
  • When your car is damaged, you get to choose where it gets fixed and what parts are used. The insurance company will work with the shop you choose and pay up to a certain amount for the parts.
  • You can make your own choice whether you want to take a settlement offer, move forward with negotiations ,or continue with a lawsuit.

Does it make sure that insurance companies treat me a certain way?

Yes. The Consumer Bill of Rights explains things they can’t do. So, if these things happen, you can report them. Insurance companies may be breaking the law if they do things like:

  • Discriminate based on race, color, religion, or where you were born. They can only use age, gender, disability, marital status, and where you live to calculate the chances of having to pay out on an insurance claim

        Example - Males under 30 might get in more accidents than females the same age and driving          at night can be different for drivers under 50 and those over 70.

  • Refuse to renew your insurance only based on
  1. Age
  2. Claims history
  3. Not-at-fault claims which include towing and labor as well as damage because of weather, animals, flying objects. If you have four or more not-at-fault claims in three years, the company can stop offering this coverage

Do insurance companies use my credit information?

Yes, but insurance companies that use your credit information have to tell you within 10 days after they process your application. The paperwork is called a disclosure and it lists specific legal rights, including:

  • credit information insurance companies are banned from using against you
  • how exceptions to divorce, death of a close family member, or identity theft help you still get insurance even though they hurt your credit
  • the decision notice listing the reasons why your credit made you pay more or kept them from offering you insurance
  • the way to challenge inaccurate credit information so you’re your insurance company will look at your policy again to see if the payment amount changes

Where can I get help when I am shopping for insurance?

The Texas Department of Insurance understands that buying auto insurance can be confusing. That is why they encourage shoppers to use the following tools:

Where can I get more information?

1. Go online to Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) or call 800-252-3439 to learn more about:

  • insurance company or agent licensing
  • insurance company financial stability
  • any complaints filed against an insurance company
  • how your credit information to affects how much you pay
  • Open Records Act which gives you access to information about how an insurance company's puts together your policy
  • Market Assistance Program (MAP) at 888-799-MAPP (6277), helps to provide underserved areas with liability insurance

2. Information from Your Insurance Company. Use their toll-free number to call about any questions or complaints.

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