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Texas is one of four states that have seen the highest increase in auto insurance premiums over the last seven years, according to Consumer Reports. While part of that jump is due to increased repair costs for the added technology in new cars, extreme weather also plays a role, with Hurricane Harvey a recent glaring example. Over half a million vehicles flooded in Texas during that storm, significantly raising insurers’ annual losses for 2017, and in turn, causing around an 8% jump in premiums this year. Add the fact that Texas is number one in the nation for hail damage losses, and its position at the top of the rate hike leaderboard is no surprise.
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.
Liability insurance covers you if you’re in an accident deemed to be your fault. It will cover repairs to damaged property, as well as medical bills resulting from injury to the other driver and his or her passengers. Most states require at least a minimum amount of liability insurance, but it’s a good idea to purchase extra protection if you can afford it.
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.
Personal injury or bodily injury protection, which is often a part of full coverage car insurance, covers medical costs for you, your passengers, or other people injured in an accident. This type of coverage is required by most states, but keep in mind that the legal requirement may be too low for real world application. As medical costs soar, a policy that only pays out $30,000 is not likely to be enough, and you will be responsible for any difference between what your policy pays and what the actual medical costs are. It’s tempting to skimp on this coverage, but that can be a costly mistake.
There are many factors that go into determining your car insurance rates. Some, like your age and gender, are out of your control. Others, like where you live and your marital status, are somewhat in your control. Finally, there are several factors that affect your auto insurance rates, like the insurance company you choose to work with, your driving record, your credit score, the kind of car you drive, and the amount of coverage you choose, that are completely within your control.
For extra information on car insurance rates, U.S. News also worked with Quadrant Information Services to provide a report of average insurance rates in all 50 states from the 10 largest national car insurance companies. The rates are based on profiles for both male and female drivers aged 17, 25, 35, and 60. Vehicles used include the 2018 Honda Civic, 2018 Toyota RAV4, 2018 Ford-F-150, 2015 Honda Civic, 2015 Toyota RAV4, and 2015 Ford-F-150, with annual mileage of 6,000 and 12,000. Three car insurance coverage levels were used, as were credit tiers of good, fair, and poor. Clean driving records and records with one accident, one speeding violation, and one DUI were also used in the calculations. The rates shown here are for comparative purposes only. Individual rates will differ.
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.
Collision car insurance covers damage to your car if it collides with another car. If you lease your car or have a loan on it, your financing company will require this type of coverage. As your car ages or you pay it off, you can drop it. However, that means that if your car is damaged in a collision with another vehicle, you’ll have to pay for all repairs on your own.
We started by identifying Texas’s five biggest auto insurers by market share, and compared their financial strength, coverage options, and customer service, using methodology similar to our review on nationwide providers. Then, we checked J.D. Power and Consumer Reports to see how each company’s customers scored them, both overall and on their claims experiences. Next, we looked at the Texas Department of Insurance’s “Complaint Index” for each company — a measure of how consumer complaints filed against them compare to the state average. And finally we collected quotes for six hypothetical drivers, taking note of each company’s available endorsements and discounts.
If you’re getting turned down by traditional insurers due to a spotty driving record, the Texas Automobile Insurance Plan Association (TAIPA) is probably your best option. It only offers the bare minimum required by law, it’s more expensive than traditional insurers, and you’ll have to show proof that you’ve been turned down by at least two companies. It’s a last resort, but TAIPA will get you back on the road.
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.
Geico: Geico is the fourth-best car insurance company, and even a cave man can see why. Geico customers say it’s easy to file a claim with the company, though some were unhappy with status updates from the insurer. That said, most Geico customers would recommend it and plan to renew their policy. Their rates may have something to do with that: Geico offers lower rates on average than most other auto insurance companies.
Comprehensive car insurance covers damage to your car if it collides with something other than another car, like an animal or a tree, or if it’s damaged by vandalism, theft, or natural disaster. Again, if you lease your car or have an outstanding loan on it, this type of coverage will be required, but if you pay your car off, or it becomes worth less money than it would cost to repair, you can decline this coverage.
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