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.
The cost of insurance is on the rise: the price for auto insurance rose 3.6% between 2011 and 2012, and 3.1% for homeowners and renter’s insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute. In fact, auto liability insurance premiums alone have been increasing by 2.8% annually for the past three years. This makes choosing the right coverage and provider all the more crucial to save money without sacrificing important aspects of coverage.
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.
One of the most common ways to lower your car insurance rates is by choosing a higher deductible. The deductible is the amount of money you must pay after an accident before your insurance kicks in. So, for example, if you are in an accident and there is $10,000 worth of damage done and your deductible is $1,000, you pay the $1,000 and your car insurance company pays $9,000. A higher deductible means less risk for your insurance company and lower rates for you. However, it also means that you need to have that much money on hand in case of an accident. If you go for a $2,000 deductible and don’t have $2,000 available after an accident, you won’t be able to get the repairs you need.
If you decide to opt out instead of acquiring compliant health insurance, you do have a few options. These options probably won't qualify to relieve you of having to pay the shared responsibility payment, but they can still lower your health care costs. Many insurance companies offer short-term insurance plans that might help you between coverage periods or after losing insurance. Catastrophic insurance usually has a high deductible, but can help if you need expensive treatment. Another option is Direct Primary Care (DPC) or "concierge medicine." These are not standard insurance models but involve a direct payment to the provider as an annual fee or retainer for services. This type of arrangement is not common, but it's an option for some. Boutique offices are becoming increasingly popular as well. These medical practices do not bother with insurance and simply make cash-price arrangements with patients. Many offer quite competitive rates for routine services. However, keep in mind that this alternative option does not satisfy the requirement to have minimal compliant health insurance and that you may need to pay the fine unless you are somehow otherwise exempt.
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.
Bad auto insurance comes in many forms. With bad car insurance, premiums are higher than they should be, or the company offers low premiums but minimal coverage. Some car insurance companies have poor customer service and don’t effectively communicate the status of your auto insurance claim. Others require you to use only repair shops that they approve of, and those shops can be inconvenient to access, forcing you to travel across town for repairs or wait weeks for an appointment. Still other auto insurance companies don’t have a comprehensive network of adjusters, so you have to wait longer for your claim to be processed so you can get the repairs you need. In a worst-case scenario, a car insurance company may not have the financial resources to pay claims, leaving its customers high and dry.
One particular advantage of adding endorsements rather than seeking coverage through a separate insurer is that you have all of your coverages in one place. Furthermore, if you have, say, home and flood insurance with the same company and you need to file a home and flood claim, some insurers may only require a single deductible for coverage to kick in. Some endorsements that are indicative of a good homeowners insurance company are:
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.
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 companies will also have several supplemental coverage options, or endorsements, that you can add to your homeowners policy. Endorsements can vary, as some provide higher coverage limits for certain types of personal property like jewelry or fine furs; or they can provide supplemental coverage for risks — like water backups, floods, or earthquakes — not covered by home insurance.
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