When it comes to certain types of car insurance, you can save by owning a car that’s less expensive to repair or replace. Comprehensive car insurance and collision car insurance coverage cover damages to the car as the result of a collision with another car, or because of another event, like a natural disaster. If your car is going to cost more to fix or replace, your car insurance rates will be higher. As your car ages and becomes worth less money, contact your insurance company to see if you can get a decrease in your rates.
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.
These are on the high side, but there are still instances in which they won’t be enough to fully cover you. For example, if you accidentally hit a luxury car, replacing it could easily cost more than the $25,000 legal minimum for property damage coverage. If the other driver is injured, his or her medical bills could also exceed the $30,000 bodily injury minimum fairly easily. In each case, you’d be responsible for making up the difference yourself.
"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."
Additional living expenses, or loss-of-use coverage is typically a fixed amount – 20% of your dwelling coverage. However, if you live in an area prone to wildfires or hurricanes, it's worth checking with your insurer to see if they offer higher coverage limits in the event a catastrophe forces you from your home for an extended period. Additional living expenses can add up, so it may be worth the added peace of mind to increase this coverage component.
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.
Next, take a good hard look at your driving record and credit report, and clean both up if they’re not in good shape. Moving violations, citations for driving under the influence, accidents, and a low credit score all tell car insurance companies you’re at higher risk of being in an accident, making a claim, and costing them money. Some car insurance companies will give you a discount if you can prove you’re a safe driver by installing a tracking device in your car, which can lead to lower rates over time (however, if the tracker shows you routinely drive in an unsafe manner, your rates might go up). A few years without a citation or an accident, as well as a steadily improving credit score, can help you save on car insurance.
Allstate is more reasonable in terms of pricing, and came out cheapest for drivers under 25 according to our quotes. Both J.D. Power and Consumer Reports readers rated it just a hair lower than State Farm overall, but at the top for claims satisfaction. So we were puzzled to see its complaint index was the highest by far among the top five, and the only one considered above average for all Texas insurers. Since the most common consumer complaint is that payments are too low, it seems likely that Allstate is stingier in its claims determinations than most companies. Its financial strength, while not quite top-tier, is good enough that you’ll never have to worry about getting paid; the bigger question is whether you’ll be satisfied with the amount.
On average, State Farm offered us the most expensive quotes, but the company’s strong record of claims-handling and elite financial strength were enough for us to justify ranking it second. It also apparently has many satisfied customers in Texas, judging by its 16.8% market share — the largest in the state. State Farm outperformed every company on our list in both complaint index and customer service scoring by J.D. Power and Consumer Reports.
To get the cheapest car insurance, start by comparing rates. You can use our list of the Cheapest Car Insurance Companies to see which company has the cheapest rates for your situation. Don’t stop there, however. A company with cheap rates may not have the best service or very satisfied customers. Balance cheap auto insurance rates with the kind of service you want to live with when choosing an insurance company.
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.
The best car insurance companies have a few things in common: They have straightforward shopping experiences, take good care of policyholders after a crash and treat their customers with respect and courtesy. That means only insurers with high customer satisfaction scores and relatively few complaints to insurance commissioners make it to the top of our list of the best auto insurance companies.