KSAT Defenders: Uninsured drivers aided by loopholes in state law

Short-term policies, 'driver-only' offer cheap protection

Author: Brian Mylar, Reporter, bmylar@ksat.com
Published On: Feb 19 2013 06:53:46 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 19 2013 09:50:31 PM CST
Uninsured drivers

Uninsured drivers on Bexar County roads number close to 200,000 and loopholes in state laws allow it to happen.

The last figures produced by the state show 186,000 car registrations that could not be tied to vehicle insurance.

And one Bexar County family knows well the tragedies that can be caused by uninsured drivers.

In November, 30-year-old Jose Beltran and 3-year-old Eli Beltran were run over and killed while walking along Foster Road. Sheriff's investigators say 37-year-old Latonshia Lee-Alezander hit them and may have been distracted. She was also uninsured.

"She had no business driving that car at all," said Raymond Espinoza, Jose Beltran's uncle. "My nephew died right there. My nephew never went home. (He is) not ever coming back home. This lady went back home."

Espinoza said the state is not doing enough to make sure all drivers are insured.

A Defenders search of Texas Department of Insurance records show at last report 14.39 percent of Bexar County cars were not insured. That is above the state average of 13.4 percent.

It is also well above the 8.7 percent in Williamson County, north of Austin, and well below the 22.89 percent in Cameron County, in the Rio Grande Valley.

State law contains loopholes that make it easy for uninsured drivers to get away without insurance.

The Texas Department of Insurance allows companies to sell insurance policies for a one-month period or even less. And although there are rules against doing it, drivers can possibly obtain those short-term policies to prove insurance when they register their vehicle or get their license. When those short-term policies run out, so does their insurance.

Richard Lott has been hit by two uninsured drivers and opposes short-term policies.

"A 30-day policy is only good for 30 days and it's a whole year before they have to prove they have insurance again," Lott said.

He is also not a fan of the "driver-only" policy that covers only one specified driver, leaving others who may also use a car uninsured.

"Driving a car is a responsibility and it's a potentially lethal weapon," Lott said.

Right now, the Texas Legislature shows no sign of changing the driver-only or short-term policies.

Here is a link to the Texas Department of Insurance website, where you can find uninsured driver rates for Texas counties.

For a list of recent stories Brian Mylar has done, click here.