March 29, 2008

From the desk of Rep. Allen Vaught

The Department of Public Safety estimates that 15-20% of Texas drivers are uninsured. Uninsured motorists cost insurance companies $900 million a year in Texas alone, which in turn raises the rates of insured motorists. Many of these uninsured motorists carry fraudulent insurance cards or drop their coverage as soon as they receive a valid insurance card. Texas is implementing a new program to allow law enforcement officers immediate verification that a person has a valid motor vehicle insurance policy.

Current Motor Vehicle Insurance Regulations

In order to operate a motor vehicle in Texas, proof of financial responsibility must be established for that vehicle. Financial responsibility is usually established through the purchase of automobile liability coverage. Currently, the minimum required coverage is $20,000 per injured person, up to $40,000 for all persons injured in an accident, and $15,000 for property damage (20/40/15 coverage). On April 1, 2008, the minimum required liability limits increase to $25,000 per injured person, $50,000 for everyone injured in an accident, and $25,000 for property damage (25/50/25)

Whenever drivers renew their vehicle registration, have their car inspected, or are stopped by law enforcement, they are required to show proof of insurance. Currently, authenticity of the proof of insurance or that the person is currently insured can not be verified. To address this concern, the 79th Legislative session passed SB 1670 which created the Texas Financial Responsibility Verification Program (FRVP).

Program Overview

Texas Financial Responsibility Verification Program is a collaborative program between the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Texas Department of Transportation, the Texas Department of Insurance, the Department of Information Resources, and Insurance providers operating in the state of Texas. FRVP creates and maintains a database of all insured motorists in the state of Texas. Texas is the 27th state to implement an insurance verification program.

Insurance companies are required to provide the FRVP with customers’ names, policy numbers, and Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN). The database can be accessed by the DPS when issuing tickets, vehicle registrations, and drivers licenses to ensure motorists have valid proof of financial responsibility. Local law enforcement agencies and vehicle inspection stations will also have access to the database and can control how the program will be integrated with their current operations. The program is structured to protect Texans from unauthorized use of an insured motorist's coverage information.

Program Implementation

DPS will begin pilot testing the program during May or June in the Austin area. This phase will be used to correct any errors in the system and software, and verify that the 99% accuracy standard is upheld. After successful completion of the pilot stage, the program will be implemented state-wide. The current target is late summer 2008.

How FRVP Affects Consumers

No action is required by consumers because it is the responsibility of insurance companies to provide information on all insured customers to the FRVP. However, consumers may want to verify that the VIN physically showing on their vehicle is the same as that shown on both the insurance policy and the vehicle title and registration. Contact your insurance company if any discrepancies are found.

If you have questions about the Texas Financial Responsibility Verification Program, or any other legislation, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 214-370-8305.

Source: Texas Department of Insurance
Sarah Hauser

Representative Allen Vaught

District 107

(214) 370-8305 District Office