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A “Wiseman”would say - ‘Insure!’
State. Sen. Royce West
As we move into the peak of the holiday season, scurrying about, in and out of malls and shopping centers, nothing would dampen your holiday spirits more than having your automobile towed. But that’s what will happen if you live in any of several Metroplex cities - including Dallas - if you don’t have automobile insurance.
Sharing comes with the season, so in the holiday spirit, my gift to you is three reasons why it makes more sense than ever to be able to prove financial responsibility upon demand if you are in an accident or pulled over by law enforcement.
Reason #1 - the game is over. As of October 2, Texas rolled out it’s long-awaited vehicle insurance verification program. For those who only kept coverages for a few months and cancelled after annual inspection or license tag renewal, those days are over.
Now, if you are stopped by the police, officers will be able instantly - by running your license or vehicle identification number (VIN) - to confirm if a valid insurance policy is in effect on your automobile.
In 2005, the Texas Legislature passed a law establishing the vehicle insurance verification program that is designed specifically to address the estimated 1in 5 drivers (about four million) who illegally operate an automobile on Texas’ roadways without the mandated liability insurance coverage.
It is a joint venture involving the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Texas Department of Information Resources.
Texas joins about 30 other states with similar programs. Insurers will tell you that uninsured motorists drive up rates for the insured, causing nearly a billion dollars annually in uncovered damages.
Besides, it will save you money! Just think of how many more presents you can buy for the $175 - $350 you’ll have to shell out for a first time, no-insurance offense, or the $350 - $1,000 fine if you’re caught more than once.
The second reason is that those costs can run up even more.
In 2003, Texas also passed into law the Driver Responsibility Program (DRP). In short, the logic is that bad drivers should help pay for the accidents that land victims in emergency rooms across the state, often without health coverage.
So in addition to the ticket, a no-insurance conviction puts drivers in the DRP where they are assessed a $250 annual surcharge for each of three years, or face license suspension for failure to pay.
To complete this trilogy of reasons to insure, beginning Jan. 1, 2009, Dallas will join DeSoto, Irving, Red Oak, Mesquite, Garland, Grand Prairie, Plano and other Texas cities in towing the autos of drivers unable to produce proof of financial responsibility. Dallas’ current policy allows an uninsured car to be towed only if it has been involved in an accident.
Let’s see, that’s $300 for no insurance, $250 for the surcharge, $95 for the wrecker, another $40 for one day of impoundment.
On average, liability coverage alone costs less than $50 a month.
Think you can’t afford insurance?
You really can’t afford not to.
A fourth reason to insure - it’s the law!
Put Kids First Campaign
Eddie G. Griffin, International Child Rights advocate
On Feb. 4, 2009, adults and youth from throughout the state will be asking elected officials to
Put Kids First in their decision making for Texas.
Student Letters to Leaders
by January 30, 2009
Include your school or program address and an optional wallet-sized photograph to:
Put Kids First
c/o Texans Care For Children
814 San Jacinto, Suite 201
Austin, Texas 78701
Students should include in their letters an introduction of who they are (name, grade, etc.), their reason for writing, and what change they think is needed for kids in Texas. You can also have students attach walletsized pictures of themselves to their letter.
Explain that the elected officials will keep the pictures to remember all the youth and children they work for.
The leaders will likely send replies to the address on the letter (e.g., your program’s address).
Also, with this address, we will make sure the letters get to one or more of the correct legislators for your district.
Send envelope of letters postmarked by January 30, 2009 to:
Put Kids First, c/o Texans Care For Children, 814 San Jacinto, Suite 201, Austin, Texas 78701