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.
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.
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.
As it currently stands with Texas, in the event of an accident, there’s a one in seven chance that the other driver won’t be insured. Unless you’ve purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, that’s money out of your pocket. Texas’s minimum requirements also don’t account for comprehensive coverage, which you’ll definitely want to take into consideration, since the state ranks first for monetary losses from “catastrophes” like hail storms and hurricanes.
Farmers has the fifth-largest market share in Texas at 8.2%. According to J.D. Power, Texans are more impressed with their Farmers claims experiences than they are with Allstate’s. Unfortunately, Consumer Reports readers expressed a bit more annoyance with the timeliness of their payments when comparing Farmers to State Farm and Allstate. Farmers’ financial strength is also a couple of notches lower than the rest. This doesn’t mean that the company's about to go bankrupt — it’s just the difference between “quite stable” and “completely rock-solid.”
But liability coverage levels come in threes — you’ll probably see something like 50/100/50 up to 250/500/250 in typical policies. You can think of these limits like: individual injuries / total injuries / property damage. Insurers are a little more technical, calling them bodily injury liability, total bodily injury liability and physical damage liability.
State Farm has many satisfied customers in Texas, judging by its 15% market share — the largest in the state. State Farm outperformed almost every company on our list in customer service scoring by J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. It also has a stellar website, which helps you understand which coverages best fit your specific needs. We would’ve liked a Live Chat feature, but there are plenty of contact alternatives, including a mobile app.
Non-owner car insurance is just what it sounds like. It’s insurance that covers the driver instead of the car. That is, if you don’t own a car, but frequently drive a friend’s car, rental cars, work cars, or use a car-sharing service, non-owner insurance covers your liability in the event of an accident. It can cover your liability for medical costs and property damage. In some states, non-owner car insurance can also help you regain your license after it’s been suspended. It can also lower car insurance rates if you buy a car later since there won’t be an uninsured period on your record. |
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.
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.
Let's use the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy as an example to illustrate the differences between collision and comprehensive. Within that storm, let's consider two events that might have happened: 1) a heavy tree branch fell on your car, or 2) you swerved to avoid a falling tree branch and wound up crashing into a tree. In the first event, you had no control over when or why a tree branch would fall 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 tree, which makes it a collision, and collision insurance therefore pays for the damages. Events like the hypothetical ones stated above are why it's important to differentiate between the two types of coverage.
If you insure more than one vehicle, you may be able to stack your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. For example, let’s say you cover two vehicles on the same policy and each vehicle has a standard $25,000 in uninsured motorist protection. If you have stacked coverage and sustain injuries in a crash caused by an uninsured driver, you’ll be able to draw from both payouts for a combined total of $50,000 in coverage.
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USAA maintains a strong financial standing and ranked the highest of our top picks with Consumer Reports and J.D. Power. This means you won’t have to worry about settling up financially with the company, and you’ll likely have a decent time maneuvering through its claims process. If you or anyone in your immediate family is an active or retired service member, you should definitely give USAA a call and get a quote.
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.