Gap insurance is insurance that may be required if you lease or finance a car. Gap insurance covers the difference between what your car is worth and what you owe on your auto loan should your car be a total loss in an incident. For example, let’s say you have a car loan with a balance of $20,000, but your car is only worth $15,000. If it’s totaled in an accident, your insurance will only pay out $15,000 and you will owe $5,000 to settle your loan. If you have gap insurance, that policy will pay the $5,000 to settle your loan balance.
Cost is another major consideration you’ll have when choosing the best car insurance company for you. After all, you need insurance you can afford. While you should compare rates from several companies, make sure you’re comparing rates for your situation. Insurance companies can charge drastically different rates depending on a person’s age, gender, driving record, credit history, ZIP code, the number of miles they drive per year, the value of their car, and other factors. It makes no sense to compare rates for a 16-year-old male from one company with the rates for a 60-year-old female from another – especially if you’re neither a 16-year-old male nor a 60-year-old woman. It’ll take some time to gather quotes to compare rates, but rates can vary by several hundred or even a few thousand dollars per year from company to company. The time you spend can pay off in the end. When comparing rates, make sure you consider any car insurance discounts you may qualify for.
Everything’s bigger in Texas and car insurance coverage is no exception. In fact, the Lone Star State has some of the highest minimum requirements in the nation and, even then, these may not be enough when an accident strikes. As it currently stands with Texas, in the event of an accident, there’s a 1 in 7 chance that the other driver won’t be insured. Unless you’ve purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, that’s money out of your pocket. Texas’s minimum requirements also don’t account for comprehensive coverage which you’ll definitely want to take into consideration since the state ranks first for monetary losses from “catastrophes” like hail storms and hurricanes.
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State Farm: State Farm is the third-best car insurance company, though its overall score is very close to second-place Travelers. State Farm gets high marks from its customers for ease of filing a claim, and many State Farm customers say they're likely to renew their policy with the company. State Farm customers report being satisfied with the value they get from the company, and it’s no wonder they say that: State Farm rates are, on average, lower than most of the competition.
One way to do this is to call the insurance company and see what the hold time is and what the service is like when you wait to speak to a representative about a general inquiry. If the hold time is 3 hours and they don’t seem like an accommodating group, you’re probably not going to want to deal with them after you just lost your house and file a claim.
How much car insurance costs depends on the amount of risk you pose to your auto insurance company. Remember, if you have an incident and make a claim on your insurance policy, your insurance company must pay – even if you’ve only paid them $1,000 in premiums and you make a claim that costs $100,000. If it’s more likely that you’ll need to make a number of claims on your car insurance, you’ll get charged more. It’s just the insurance company making sure they don’t lose money on your policy.
So, what does the best car insurance look like? The best car insurance companies balance their rates with the amount of coverage they offer, so their customers don’t pay more than they have to and are covered when they need to make a claim. The best car insurance companies work with you to figure out how much car insurance you need and explain your policy to you. When you need to file a claim, the best auto insurance companies walk you through the process, keep you informed, and work with you to resolve any issues you have. The best auto insurers will help you understand how car insurance works and make you feel like you’ve gotten the best value for your money when you insure your vehicle. The best car insurance companies will also offer you auto insurance discounts for things like having multiple policies or a good driving record. Finally, the best car insurance companies have great customer service, keep their customers updated on the status of their claims, and make sure the customer is satisfied with the way the claim is resolved.
"Many companies offer discounts for good grades and for completion of an approved driver’s education or defensive driving course," continued Doreen Haughton-James of 123 Drive! Driving Academy. "Some also have their own discount programs. State Farm, for example, has a program called 'Steer Clear' where students receive discounts for logging driving hours and completing a program."
When you apply for auto insurance in Texas, providers are legally required to offer $2,500 in Personal Injury Protection coverage (PIP). This type of coverage is mandated in so-called “no-fault” states, but it’s optional in Texas (although you do have to refuse it in writing). If you select it, 100% of the coverage amount will be available for your medical bills following an accident, regardless of who was at fault. While you may be covered under your own health insurance for those costs, PIP has the added benefit of covering up to 80% of your lost income if you’re unable to work following an accident. It’s a nice protection, but keep in mind that $2,500 won’t go that far in such a case. While most companies will let you raise the limit, it’s one of the costlier options to add, so if you’re on a budget you’ll have to weigh its value against things like comprehensive and UM/UIM coverage.
Still, the State Farm quotes we received were shockingly expensive when compared to the competition — typically around three times as much. While that’s likely a dealbreaker for most, it’s worth checking personalized quotes yourself, especially if you have a teen driver (for whom they seem to offer more discounts than our other picks). Another point in State Farm’s favor is its website, which is good at helping you understand which coverages best fit your specific needs. We would’ve liked a Live Chat feature, but there are plenty of contact alternatives, including a mobile app.
When comparing car insurance quotes, it helps to compare apples to apples; in other words, you want to be sure that the quotes you get are for identical - or at least very similar - auto insurance policies. Once you have a better idea of the type of coverage you’re looking for in a policy, this will be easy. To better understand coverage types start here
Another good way to get the cheapest auto insurance rates is to use as many car insurance discounts as you can. Car insurance companies offer many discounts, including good student discounts, paperless billing discounts, discounts for multiple policies, and discounts for going a certain period of time without making a claim. Some also offer discounts for things like having a tracker in your car. Read more about the car insurance discounts that can help you get the cheapest car insurance.
USAA only sells policies to current and former members of the military and their families and is consistently rated at the top of its class by A.M. Best with an A++ financial strength rating. It doesn’t have an official customer service rating with J.D. Power, but USAA is noted by J.D. as providing “claims satisfaction and shopping satisfaction”. A perk of USAA is if your uniform is damaged or stolen in an event your policy covers and you are on active duty or deployed, USAA will reimburse you without you having to pay a deductible.
Be sure to take an inventory of all of your personal belongings inside the home, value them, and calculate what it would cost to repair or replace your stuff if they’re damaged, destroyed, or stolen by a covered loss. Most of the top home insurance companies will provide checklists, calculators, apps, and other resources to help you keep track of and protect your belongings.
Travelers: Travelers is the second-best car insurance company. Travelers' customers report that they appreciate the customer service Travelers provides, and the company gets high marks for how it resolves its customers’ claims. Travelers' lost a few points from customers who didn’t feel like they got good value from the company, and Travelers' average annual rates are a bit higher than average among all companies on this list.
When it comes to rate-saving opportunities, Allstate is in a league all by itself. Featuring an industry-leading stable of discounts, Allstate makes it easy to get a good deal on your coverage. For example, if you bundle your home and auto policies with Allstate, you can save up to 25%. If you haven’t filed a recent claim, you can save up to 20% with Allstate.
USAA: USAA is the best car insurance company we found. Customers report that they love USAA for its customer service, ease of filing a claim, and frequent updates on claim status. USAA customers also report that USAA is a good value, and USAA’s average annual rates are some of the lowest in the business. The only downside we could find to USAA is that its insurance products are only available to veterans, members of the military, and their immediate families, so not everyone will be able to work with the top-ranked insurance company.
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