NOTE: This document is a summary of your rights as an insured. You have the right to call your company and request a copythese rights in spanish.
What is the Bill of Rights?
This Bill of Rights is a summary of your rights and does not become part of your policy. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) passed the Bill of Rights and requires insurance companies to provide you with a copy when they issue your policy.
Texas law gives you certain rights regarding your car insurance. This Bill of Rights identifies your rights as set forth by rules or state laws, but does not contain all of your rights. Also, some exceptions to the rights are not listed here. If your agent, company, or expert advises you that any of these rights do not apply to you, you can contact us at 800-252-3439 (512-463-6515 in Austin) (111-1A), P.O. PO Box 149091, Austin, TX 78714-9091. For a list of the specific laws and/or rules summarized in each item of this Bill of Rights, or if you have any questions or comments, contact the Office of Public Insurance Counsel at 333 Guadalupe, Suite 3-120 , Austin , TX 78701 (512-322-4143) orwww.opic.texas.gov.
This Bill of Rights does not address your responsibilities. You can find your obligations regarding your insurance in your policy. Failure to perform your obligations may affect your rights.
Get information from the Department of Insurance and your insurance company
1. iINFORMATION FROMTDI.You have the right to call TDI toll-free at 800-252-3439 or 512-463-6515 in Austin to learn more about:
- your rights as a policyholder;
- the licensing status of an insurance company or insurance agent;
- the financial condition of an insurance company;
- the complaint rate and type of consumer complaints filed against an insurance company;
- Use of credit information by insurance companies, including information about which insurance companies they use and access to each company's credit scoring model;
- an insurance company's rates filed with the state;
- An insurance company's underwriting rules (subject to exceptions in the Public Information Act, also known as the Open Records Act);
- Helpinsure.com, a service that helps Texans buy auto insurance;
- the Market Assistance Program (MAP) at 888-799-MAPP (6277), designed to help those in underserved areas obtain liability insurance; and
- other consumer concerns.
You can also find some of this information on the TDI website atwww.tdi.texas.gov.
2. INFORMATION FROM YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY.You have the right to a toll-free number to call your insurance company free of charge with any questions or complaints. You can find this number on a notice that accompanies your policy. This requirement does not apply to small insurance companies.
What you should know before you buy insurance
3. PROHIBITED STATEMENTS.Your insurance company or agent is prohibited from providing you with false, misleading or deceptive information regarding insurance.
4. EXCESS LIMITS.An insurer or agent cannot require you to purchase limits of liability in excess of the limits prescribed by law (20/40/15) or require you to purchase other types of coverage as a condition of offering insurance or continuing insurance.
NOTE: Texas law requires auto insurance to include Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Uninsured Motorist Protection (UM/UIM) unless you opt out in writing of these coverages. As a condition of your car loan, your lender may also require you to purchase other types of coverage, such as: B. collision or comprehensive insurance to cover damage to your vehicle.
5. THE CREDIT INFORMATION.An insurance company cannot deny you insurance solely on the basis of credit reports. Insurers using credit information must also consider other underwriting factors independent of credit information when deciding whether to offer coverage. (For more information, see the section of this Bill of Rights entitledWhat you should know about how insurance companies use credit information.)
6. SAFETY NET.You have the right to obtain minimum liability, personal injury, and uninsured motorist insurance through the Texas Automobile Insurance Plan Association, also known as TAIPA, if you have been denied coverage by two insurance companies.
NOTE: After 3 consecutive years with no culpable accidents or traffic violations, you are entitled to be insured by your assigned company as a regular policyholder at a lower rate than the TAIPA rate. The company must make this offer to you in writing.
7. PAYMENT PLANS.You have the right to pay your car insurance premium in installments. Insurance companies may charge a fee for each rate. Your initial deposit must not exceed the cost of two months of insurance. With a 12-month policy, you have the right to pay the balance in at least ten equal monthly installments. With a six-month policy, you have the right to pay the balance in at least four equal monthly installments.
NOTE: You may be offered an installment loan through a premium finance company. These companies offer high-interest loans with fees and obligations that may exceed those included in installment plans offered directly by insurance companies.
8. ELECTRONIC PAYMENTS.If you authorize your insurer to withdraw your premium payments directly from your financial institution, your insurer cannot increase the amount withdrawn unless:
- the insurer will notify you of the premium increase at least 30 days before it takes effect and provide you with a prepaid form to object to the increase; and
- You do not notify the insurer or financial institution that you object to the increase at least 5 days before the increase.
This does not apply to premium increases specifically provided for in the original policy, increases based on policy changes you have requested, or an increase that is less than $10 or 10% of the previous month's payment.
9. NOTICE OF REDUCED COVERAGE.If an insurer uses an addendum to reduce the amount of coverage on your policy, the insurer must explain to you in writing the change made by the addendum. The insurer must make the declaration prior to the effective date of the new or renewal policy. An insurance company cannot reduce coverage during the policy period unless you request the change. If you request the change, the company does not have to communicate this.
10. DECLARATION OF REFUSAL.Upon request, you have the right to be informed in writing of why you have been denied coverage. The written explanation must fully explain the decision, including the exact incidents, circumstances or risk factors that disqualified you. In addition, the sources of information used must be specified.
NOTE: The obligation to provide written information applies directly to insurance companies. An independent representative is not expressly required to offer a consumer the lowest possible price or to provide a written explanation as to why the representative did not offer the consumer the lowest possible price.
11. RATE DIFFERENCES WITHIN A COUNTY.If an insurance company subdivides a district to charge different rates for each subdivision, the difference between the lowest and highest rates cannot exceed 15% unless actuarially justified.
12. RIGHT TO PRIVACY.You have the right to prevent an insurance company, agent, adjuster, or financial institution from disclosing your personal financial information to companies unaffiliated with the insurance company or financial institution. Some examples are income, social security number, credit history, and premium payment history.
When you apply for a policy, the insurance company or financial institution must notify you if they intend to disclose financial information about you and give you at least 30 days to decline. This refusal is called "opting out". When you buy a policy, the insurance company or financial institution must tell you what information they collect about you and whether they intend to share that information, and give you at least 30 days to opt out. Agents and experts who intend to disclose your information to anyone other than the insurance company or financial institution must provide you with similar notices.
You can unsubscribe at any time. Your decision to opt out remains in effect until you revoke it.
These safeguards do not apply to information:
- publicly available elsewhere;
- Insurance companies or financial institutions are required by law to disclose; or
- Insurance companies or financial institutions need to share in order to carry on their ordinary business.
What you should know about cancellation and non-renewal
Cancellation means thatbefore the endthe insurance period of the insurance company:
- the policy terminated;
- reduces or limits coverage under the policy; or
- refuses to provide additional coverage to which you are entitled under the policy.
Refusal to renew and non-renewal means the policy is terminatedAt the endof the insurance period.
The period of cover is shown on the declaration page at the front of your policy.
13. LIMITATION ON CANCELLATION.After your original policy has been in force with your company for 60 days, that insurance company cannot cancel your policy unless:
- You do not pay your premium when it is due;
- you make a fraudulent claim;
- your driving license or car registration is revoked or suspended;
- the driver's license of a household member or a person who habitually drives an insured car is suspended or revoked. If you agree to exclude that person from coverage, the insurance company cannot cancel your policy for that reason; or
- TDI determines that continuing the policy would result in a violation of insurance laws.
14. CANCELLATION NOTICE.To cancel your policy, your insurance company must be notified by email at least 10 days prior to cancellation. Your policy may provide for an even greater notification.
15. POLICYHOLDER'S RIGHT TO CANCELLATION.You have the right to cancel your policy at any time and receive a refund of the remaining premium. The refund will be paid to you unless your award was funded through an award finance company. In this case, the refund will be paid to the premium finance company to reduce the amount you owe on your loan.
16. CHANGE OF MARITAL STATUS.If your marital status changes, you have the right to continue your insurance cover. You are entitled to a new policy in your name with coverage that most closely matches your previous policy including the same expiry date. The insurance company cannot date the new policy, leaving a gap in coverage.
17. INDEMNIFICATION CLAIMS.Your insurance company cannot refuse to renew your policy based solely on any of the following types of claims:
- Claims relating to damage arising from a weather-related event that does not involve a collision, such as B. Damage caused by hail, wind or flood;
- accidents or claims for damages resulting from contact with animals or poultry;
- Accidents or claims for damages caused by flying gravel or objects; However, if you have three of these claims in a three-year period, the insurance company may increase your deductible at your next renewal date;
- towing and labor claims; However, once you have made four of those claims within three years, the Company may remove that coverage from your policy at your next renewal date. and
- any other accident or claim that is not your fault, unless you have two or more such claims or accidents within a year.
18. USE OF NON-RENEWAL AGE.Your insurance company cannot refuse to renew your policy based solely on the age of a person covered by the policy. This includes reassigning you to a more expensive company or requiring a named driver lockout for a teenager who reaches driving age.
19. USE OF CREDIT INFORMATION FOR NON-RENEWAL.An insurance company cannot refuse to renew your policy based solely on credit information. Insurers using credit information must also consider other underwriting factors independent of credit information when deciding whether to renew coverage. (For more information, see the section of this Bill of Rights entitledWhat you should know about how insurance companies use credit information.)
20. TERM OF INSURANCE.If the term of your insurance policy is less than one year, your insurance company must renew that policy until it is in effect for one year. Your insurance company may only refuse to renew your policy with effect from the anniversary of the original policy effective date. For example, if your policy was originally effective January 1 of Year 1, the insurance company must renew your policy to provide coverage through January 1 of Year 2, and thereafter may only renew your policy effective January 1 January of each subsequent year.
21. NOTICE OF NON-RENEWAL.If the insurance company does not send you a notice of non-renewal at least 30 days before your policy expires, you have the right to ask the insurance company to renew your policy.
22. NOTICE OF CANCELLATION OR NO RENEWAL.Upon request, you have the right to a written explanation of an insurance company's decision to cancel or not to renew your policy. The written explanation must fully explain the decision, including the exact incidents, circumstances or risk factors that disqualified you. In addition, the sources of information used must be specified.
What you should know when making a claim
23. FAIR DEALING.You have the right to be treated fairly and honestly when making a claim. If you believe an insurance company has treated you unfairly, call the Department of Insurance at 800-252-3439 (512-463-6515 in Austin) or download a complaint form from the TDI website atwww.tdi.texas.gov. You can complete a complaint form online via the Internet or fax it to TDI at 512-475-1771.
24. MATCHING OFFER.You have the right to refuse any settlement offered by the insurance company, including unfair assessments.
25. EXPLANATION OF CLAIM DISCLAIMER.Your insurance company must tell you in writing why your claim or part of your claim has been denied.
26. TIMELINE FOR CLAIMS PROCESSING AND PAYMENT.If you are making a claim on your own policy, you have the right to have your claim processed and paid for promptly. If the insurance company fails to meet the required claims processing and payment deadlines, you have the right to charge 18% annual interest and attorneys' fees on top of your claim amount.
Generally, your insurance company must acknowledge receipt of your claim and request any additional information reasonably related to your claim within 15 calendar days. Within 15 business days of receiving all requested information, the Company must approve or deny your claim in writing. The law allows the insurance company to extend this period up to 45 days if they tell you they need more time and tell you why.
After you are notified that your claim has been approved, your insurance company must pay the claim within 5 business days.
If your claim results from a weather-related disaster or other major natural disaster, as defined under the TDI, your insurance company may require an additional 45 days to approve or deny your claim and an additional 15 days to pay your claim.
27. CHOICE OF REPAIR AND SPARE PARTS.You have the right to choose the workshop and spare parts for your vehicle. An insurance company may not disclose the make, type, type, age, seller, supplier, or condition of any parts or products used to repair your vehicle. The insurance company must inform you of the above requirements as follows:
- Claims submitted by telephone - written notice within 3 business days or immediate verbal notice followed by written notice within 15 days;
- Personally Filed Claims – prompt written notice at the time you present your vehicle to an insurer or adjuster or other person in connection with a claim for repair of damage;
- Claims submitted in writing – Written notice must be given within 3 business days of the insurer receiving the notice.
28. DEDUCTABLE RECOVERY.If someone else is liable for damage to your car and you have made a claim and paid a deductible on your own policy, your insurance company must use reasonable and diligent efforts to collect the deductible from that person within twelve months of the date of your claim reclaim paid. If not, your company must:
- You authorize to pursue your own collection efforts at least 90 days before the expiry of the statute of limitations, or
- Reimbursement of your excess.
29. NOTICE REGARDING LIABILITY CLAIMS.Your insurance company must notify you if they intend to pay out a liability claim against your policy. The Company must notify you in writing of an initial offer to compensate or settle any claim against you no later than 10 days after the date of making the offer. The Company must notify you in writing of the settlement of any claim against you no later than 30 days after the date of settlement.
30. INFORMATION NOT NECESSARY FOR CLAIMS PROCESSING.You have the right to refuse to provide your insurance company with information that is not related to your claim. In addition, you can refuse to provide your federal income tax records unless your insurer receives a court order or your claim relates to lost income or fire damage.
What you should know about prohibited discrimination
31. PROTECTED CLASSES.An insurance company must not discriminate against you by refusing to insure you; limit the amount, scope or type of coverage available to you; charge you a different rate for the same coverage; or refuse to renew your policy:
- based on race, color, religion or national origin; or
- unless justified by actual or anticipated experiences of loss due to age, gender, marital status, geographic location, or disability or partial disability.
32. INSURANCE POLICY.Underwriting policies must not be unduly discriminatory and must be based on sound actuarial principles.
33. EQUAL TREATMENT.Unless based on sound actuarial principles, an insurance company must not treat you differently from other people of the same class and substantially the same risk. If you suffer economic loss as a result of such unfair discrimination, you have the right to sue that insurance company in Travis County District Court.
If your lawsuit prevails, you can recover economic damages, court costs, attorneys' fees and required expert witnesses' fees. If the court finds that the insurance company knowingly violated your rights, it can award up to an additional $25,000 per plaintiff.
You must file the complaint on or before the second anniversary of the date you were denied insurance or the unfair conduct occurred, or the date you should have reasonably discovered the unfair conduct occurred. If the court finds that your claim was without merit and that you brought the claim in bad faith or for the purpose of harassment, you must pay the insurance company's court and attorney's fees.
What you should know about how insurance companies use credit information
34. REQUIRED DISCLOSURES.If an insurance company uses credit information to make underwriting or rating decisions, the company must provide you with a disclosure statement within 10 days of receiving your completed insurance application.
The disclosure will indicate whether the insurer will collect and use your credit information and list your specific legal rights, including:
- credit information that insurance companies cannot use against you;
- how to obtain appropriate exemptions that your insurer is required to make from the use of credit information when certain life events, such as divorce, the death of a close family member, or identity theft, affect your credit;
- the notification* that an insurer is required to send to you when it makes a credit-based decision that affects your ability to obtain or maintain insurance or requires you to pay a higher premium; and
- How to dispute credit information and ask an insurer to reprice your policy if the rate has been increased due to inaccurate or unverifiable credit information.
* The notification must include a description of up to four key factors that influenced the actions taken by the insurer. Blanket terms such as "poor credit rating" are not sufficient.
Insurers must use disclosureFormular (CD-1)accepted by the agent or equivalent disclosure form submitted to TDI prior to use. The CD-1 is also available by calling 800-252-3439. Additional information regardingUse of Credit Information by Insurersis available.
What you should know about enforcing your rights
35. SUBMISSION OF COMPLAINTS.You have the right to complain to TDI about insurance companies and/or insurance matters and to have a prompt investigation and response to your complaint. To do this you should:
- Call TDIhelp lineat 800-252-3439, in Austin 463-6515 for service in English and Spanish;
- Write to the Texas Department of Insurance, Consumer Protection (111-1A), P.O. PO Box 149091, Austin, Texas 78714-9091;
- E-Mail TDI anConsumerProtection@tdi.texas.gov;
- fax your complaint to 512-475-1771;
- download or fill out a complaint form online from the TDI website at https://www.tdi.texas.gov; or
- call the TDI Publications/Complaint Forms Order Line (24 hours a day) at 800-599-SHOP (7467) in Austin 512-305-7211.
NOTE: TDI offers interpretation services and publications in alternative formats. People who need more information in alternative layouts or languages can callTDI-Hotlinelisted above.
36. RIGHT OF ACTION.If an insurance company violates your rights, you may be able to sue that company in court, including small claims court, with or without a lawyer.
37. BURDEN OF PROOF.If you make a claim under your insurance policy, the insurance company will have the burden of proving the application of an exclusion in the policy and any exception or other avoidance of coverage required by the insurer.
38. REQUEST FOR NEW RULES.You have the right to request in writing that TDI enact or amend regulations on any motor insurance issue affecting you. Send your written request to: Texas Department of Insurance, Attn: Commissioner (113-2A), P.O. PO Box 149104, Austin, TX 78714-9104.