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 No. 1 in the nation for hail damage losses, and its position at the top of the rate hike leaderboard is no surprise.
We surveyed 2,799 consumers who filed a car insurance claim in the last five years, asking questions about their car insurance company. These questions covered satisfaction with the ease of filing a claim, customer service, claim status communication, claim resolution, and overall value. We also asked whether they’d recommend the company and if they planned to renew their policy. We used their responses to build our Best Car Insurance Companies ranking.
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 few notable features worth highlighting — chief among them is their Snapshot safe driving program. Snapshot is a discount program that uses a telematics device, which is a $5 word that essentially means transmission. Via a plug-in device or Progressive's mobile app, drivers can elect to track their driving and have the information transmitted back to Progressive to analyze. You will be rewarded with policy discounts for safe driving habits, like staying within the speed limit, maintaining low mileage, avoiding late-night trips, hard breaks and phone usage. Progressive advertises an average discount of $145 for those who complete the program, which typically takes around six months.
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.
We started by identifying Texas’ five biggest auto insurers by market share and comparing their financial strength, coverage options, and customer service using methodology similar to that in our review of the best car insurance providers. Then we checked J.D. Power and Consumer Reports to see how each company’s customers scored them on overall satisfaction and on the claims experience. Finally, we collected quotes for six hypothetical drivers, taking note of each company’s available endorsements and discounts.
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.”
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