Farmers has the fourth-largest market share in Texas at 8.7%, and a Consumer Reports overall score of 89 (above average and tied with State Farm). But according to J.D. Power, Texans are slightly less impressed with their Farmers claims experiences than they are with Allstate’s. Consumer Reports readers also expressed a bit more annoyance with the timeliness of their payments, and its complaint ratio, while still well below average for Texas as a whole, was higher than State Farm’s. Farmers’ financial strength is a couple of notches lower than the rest, too, which doesn’t mean it’s about to go bankrupt anytime soon — it’s just the difference between “quite stable” and “completely rock-solid.”
Progressive has a slew of available discounts — sharing the top spot for most discounts with Farmers. There’s even one for adding a newly-licensed teen driver to your existing auto policy (surprising given that teenage drivers are among the riskiest to insure). But a policy loaded with discounts isn’t necessarily cheaper than a non-discounted policy, and the Texas Department of Insurance’s data on premiums show that Progressive is, on average, the most expensive for young drivers among the top five in Texas.
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.
But according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, newly licensed drivers are about eight times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes in their first six months than more experienced drivers. The takeaway? Experience counts. The Center for Disease Control suggests that increased education programs and parental involvement in instruction are associated with reductions of as many as 40% of fatal and injury crashes among 16-year-olds.
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.
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.