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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, more commonly known as Obamacare, impacted healthcare in the United States in numerous ways. The act's effects vary by person, but you'll need to have health insurance for at least nine months out of every 12 or be subject to a tax. There are exceptions to this rule based on financial hardship, your income and living situation. But in general, whether it's through Obamacare or not, you should have health insurance.
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.
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.
Low Income: If your income is 100 to 400 percent of the national poverty rate ($11,490 - $45,960) for a single person, you may qualify for subsidized health insurance. In many cases this is not free health insurance but subsidized. This means you can get bronze-level health insurance for about $2570 per year through one of the state exchanges. Extremely low-income individuals and elderly persons often qualify for Medicare. If you paid the fine for 2014 you may still qualify for insurance via an exchange, even if it is not during the open-enrollment period, to avoid the fee in 2015.
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.
High Income: Those with a high income are facing a different problem. Many who have high incomes didn't purchase insurance in the past; they just paid health care expenses as needed. Paying two percent of a high income for the penalty can be a rather large sum for high-income persons. In this case, it might be cheaper to just buy qualifying health insurance. If you are in good health, you might want to choose the lowest qualifying plan. If you have ongoing health issues, you may as well bite the bullet and choose a more exhaustive plan and lower your out-of-pocket expenses.
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.
Let's use the aftermath of a major storm to illustrate the differences between collision and comprehensive. Within that storm, let's consider two hypothetical events: First, a heavy telephone pole was blown down and fell on your truck, or second, you swerved to avoid a falling tree and wound up crashing into a guardrail. In the first event, you couldn't control when or why a tree fell on your car. This kind of accident would get reimbursed under your comprehensive policy. In the second situation, you were driving the car and ultimately swerved into the guardrail. This makes it a collision, and collision insurance pays for the damages.
UnitedHealthcare's online account system is easy to use because you can do everything in one place. Once you've logged into your account you can access a nurse hotline, order prescriptions and more. There are also online tools for tracking deductibles and expenses or finding a doctor in your area. If you'd prefer to have on-the-go access, the Health4Me app is free and easy to navigate. While this is a really good option for digital-first users, UnitedHealthcare was more expensive than the other companies we tested.
Still, there’s no denying that Allstate is popular in Texas, with the second-most market share of any company at roughly 11.2%. It’s also one of the only companies to offer “gap” insurance for new cars, something State Farm and Farmers are both missing. And if your Allstate quote is lower than its competitors, it could mean the difference in whether you can afford comprehensive and/or UM/UIM coverage, two especially valuable add-ons in Texas.
This might vary depending on your personal health and background, but generally this is an affordable company. We got roughly a dozen plan options in our queries, which we considered a decent selection. The company also offers home healthcare coverage, which is useful for older customers or those who have a chronic illness that could impact their ability to live alone. There aren't any short-term plans available though so this isn't the place to shop if you're between jobs or waiting for a new job's insurance to kick in. You also get access to wellness benefits like HumanaVitality, an online rewards program intended to help users develop healthy habits.
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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.”
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.
Even if you consider yourself healthy, it’s important to see a doctor on occasion for a checkup. U.S. News and World Report says if you can't remember the last time you went, it has definitely been too long. You should also go for a checkup if anything has changed since the last time you saw a doctor. Are you coughing more than usual? Is that mole bigger? Even minor things can reflect larger underlying health problems. The earlier you catch any health problem, the better. An annual checkup can help with that. There are also age-related milestone checkups you shouldn't skip like an annual mammogram for women starting at age 40 or a colon cancer screening starting at age 50. These are some of the many reasons it’s important to have health insurance, as many plans cover preventative health screening services. Depending on the company and the checkup, you might not have to pay anything out of pocket.
A prescription plan is another important consideration. If you need to take medications regularly you'll want to choose a plan with a good prescription plan. If you need to insure your entire family, you'll want to look at family deductibles and maximums. Only full-coverage options will satisfy the minimal essential health care insurance required to get around paying the fine.
One of the big perks of insuring your home through Metlife is that they offer guaranteed replacement cost coverage – meaning if your home or stuff is damaged or destroyed by a covered peril, your home’s rebuild costs and property will receive the full replacement cost, depreciation notwithstanding. That means if your home is only worth $250,000 but it costs $500,000 to replace, Metlife will pay the full $500,000 to replace your home.
Amica consistently ranks among the top homeowners insurance companies for J.D. Power, and for good reason. It’d be easy to chalk it up to “good customer service”, but what exactly do customers value most when judging how good or bad a company’s customer service is? Insurance claims and how communicable they are through the underwriting process. When filing a claim with Amica, you can be sure it’ll be pain-free, mark it down.
In the 2018 midterm elections, ballot measures passed in both Missouri and Utah legalizing the use of medical marijuana. This means that in total, 32 states and Washington D.C. now allow for the medicinal use of cannabis. So can you use your health insurance to help pay for it? Due to the U.S. government's classification of the plant as a Schedule I drug, you can't use Medicare to pay for medical marijuana because it technically doesn't have any accepted medical use. Private insurers won’t cover it either, partially because the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved it for use. If you’re outside of the U.S. you’ll have more luck. With the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Canada in 2018, Sun Life Financial is now offering plans that cover medical marijuana use.
There is a case to be made for getting just comprehensive and not collision insurance, even if your car is not valuable. Comprehensive covers you for a lot more perils than does collision--including, most importantly, against theft. Regardless of the value of your car, having it stolen is a major inconvenience. Even if your car is worth only $2,000 at the time of the theft, and your insurer gives you $1,500, that sum would go a long way in buying yourself a new vehicle. As we discuss in more detail below, comprehensive insurance generally costs no more than $200 per year, so a $1,500 reimbursement would make the coverage valuable.