Each year, Texans pay over $20,000,000,000 (20 BILLION DOLLARS) to insurance companies in automobile insurance premiums expecting those companies to act fairly, protect us as consumers when crashes occur, and to pay claims when liability becomes reasonably clear. Unfortunately, all you have to do is experience just one claim with an insurance company to see clearly how insurance companies cut corners, delay payment, requests years of prior medical records and tax returns in a concerted effort to, you guessed it, deny your claim. House Bill 1739 by Rep. Charlie Geren helps get you what you pay for when you purchase uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage on your auto policy.
For years I have encourage friends and clients to make sure they purchase this additional auto coverage. This coverage is relatively inexpensive, and the insurance company is even required under the law to offer this specific coverage (also referred to as UM and UIM coverage, short for uninsured and underinsured) and have the policyholder or insurance purchaser reject the coverage in writing. This alone tells you it’s worth the money! Why? Because your own liability coverage covers the person you crash into; UM and UIM coverage covers you when someone without insurance (and there are lots of uninsured drivers on the roadways) or with not enough insurance crashes into you. People pay more for this insurance to protect themselves against drivers who don’t pay anything or buy too little in auto insurance.
A Texas Supreme Court case issued in 2006 called Brainard v. Trinity Universal Insurance unnecessarily complicates UM and UIM claims and forces you to go to court first and obtain a Final Judgment against the uninsured or underinsured driver before your own insurance company is required to pay you on the UM or UIM claim. Unnecessary costs, hurdles and delays were created by this Texas Supreme Court case. As you might imagine, insurance companies love delays as well as any other tool they can use to avoid paying you on a UM or UIM claim. Rep. Geren’s bill restores your rights and returns Texas to a more level playing field on these claims. This will result in you being paid faster on these claims when liability and damages become reasonably clear to the insurance company.