Protecting Your Family and Property
It’s probably not a good idea to remove children from your policy if they are attending school away from home. It’s risky to drop coverage if your teenager might occasionally drive at school or when home on visits. Many insurance companies will require you to keep students on your policy even if you would like to remove them.

You can sometimes remove a teenage driver from your policy by buying a nonowner policy; however, this usually isn’t a good idea. A nonowner policy only provides liability coverage for someone driving a vehicle that he or she doesn’t own. If your teenager has an accident while driving your car, neither your policy nor the nonowner policy will pay to repair or replace your car. The rates for a nonowner policy likely will cost more than leaving the teen on your policy.

— Saving Money on Insurance for Young Drivers
Some insurance companies give a discount for teenagers who complete a Department of Public Safety (DPS)–approved driver education course. Drivers taught by their parents also may be eligible for the discount if the parent used a DPS-approved course. Some companies offer discounts to young drivers who make good grades in school or who belong to certain youth groups. Ask your agent about discounts.

Accidents Caused by Other Drivers
If you were in an accident caused by another driver, the other driver’s insurance company should pay the following costs (up to the policy’s limits):
  • Repair or replacement of your car
  • Car rental while your automobile is being repaired
  • Your medical and hospital bills
  • Wages lost because of an injury
  • Compensation for pain and suffering if anyone is hurt

If the other driver’s insurance won’t cover all your medical bills, file a claim for the difference against your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, if you have it. For amounts beyond that, you can claim against your uninsured/underinsured motorists (UM/UIM) coverage or your health insurance policy.

If the other driver’s policy won’t cover all of your auto repairs, file a claim against your collision or UM/UIM coverage for the difference (minus your deductible) between the damage to your car and what the other driver’s policy will pay.

The other driver’s insurance company may ask you to sign a release to settle your claim and forgo future claims related to the accident. Don’t sign a release until you are satisfied with the total settlement. Get a letter from your doctor estimating the cost and length of your future medical treatment. You might want to consult an attorney before accepting a settlement. Under Texas law, you have two years after an accident to either settle your claim or file a lawsuit.

Texas law prohibits insurance companies from delaying payment of a claim to pressure you to sign a release. If you believe an insurance company is delaying payment to pressure you, file a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance (

If the other driver denies fault, his or her insurance company may refuse to pay the claim. Independent witnesses could make a difference in getting the company to pay. It’s important to get names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. Make sure the insurance company knows about the witnesses. If the company continues to refuse to pay the claim, you can file a claim against your own insurance or you may have to go to court to resolve the issue.

Before filing a claim with your company, ask your agent or your company’s underwriting department how a claim might affect your rates on renewal. A company cannot refuse to renew your policy solely because you had one accident in a 12-month period that was not your fault. However, if the accident affected your DPS driving record, your company may consider it in determining your rates regardless of whether you made a claim on the accident.

Health Insurance
As home to the Texas Medical Center, Houston is the center of health care excellence for the Southwest. Throughout the region, more than 12,000 physicians in more than 100 hospitals (including the Texas Medical Center), represent more than 18,000 beds.

To learn about your health care options and find a family doctor, of course, your employer should be your first stop. Your company’s human resources office usually can provide you with literature about hospitals and doctors that will accept the company’s insurance. Most hospitals also have comprehensive websites to aid in the research process. Here are a few resources in the Houston area:
  • Harris County Medical Society Physician Referral Service consists of physicians in a wide variety of specialties who are members of the society and choose to participate in the referral program. Call (713) 524-4267 or visit
  • DoctorFinder by the American Medical Association (AMA) provides basic professional information on virtually every licensed physician in the United States, which includes more than 814,000 doctors. AMA member physicians are offered an expanded listing that contains additional information, such as office hours, accepted insurance providers, education history and other helpful information. Visit
  • Texas Medical Association provides information on Texas Medical Association members only. Call (800) 880-1300 or visit
  • State of Texas Medical Board can help you find public information about a medical doctor, physician assistant, acupuncturist or surgical assistant licensed in Texas. Information available for consumers includes name, license number, licensure status, disciplinary status, honors and awards and malpractice history. The Enforcement Division receives and evaluates complaints on physicians, physician assistants and acupuncturists. Call (800) 248-4062 or visit
  • American Board of Medical Specialties. When searching for a physician, make sure the doctor is board certified. All U.S. board-certified physicians are listed with the American Board of Medical Specialties. Visit or call (866) 272-2267.
  • Also refer to the Health & Wellness chapter of this guide for other Physician Referral Services.
  • Family, friends and coworkers also are a good resource for finding a physician. Ask what people like best and least about their doctors.

— Shopping for Coverage
Be sure you understand the full extent of the coverage that is included in any health plan you’re considering. If you have more than one option, choose the plan with the highest level of coverage you can afford. The higher a plan’s deductibles, copays, and coinsurance, the more you can usually save on premiums. However, you’ll also have to pay more out of pocket for claims.

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