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Gap insurance is insurance that may be required if you lease or finance a car. Gap insurance covers the difference between what your car is worth and what you owe on your auto loan should your car be a total loss in an incident. For example, let’s say you have a car loan with a balance of $20,000, but your car is only worth $15,000. If it’s totaled in an accident, your insurance will only pay out $15,000 and you will owe $5,000 to settle your loan. If you have gap insurance, that policy will pay the $5,000 to settle your loan balance.
1The RightTrack® discount applies only to the base coverages on the participating vehicle, which may include Bodily Injury, Property Damage, Comprehensive, Collision, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments, Uninsured Motorist, and Underinsured Motorist (subject to state availability). Initial discount may vary by state and is replaced with a final discount upon completion of a review period. Not available in all states. Coverage provided and underwritten by Liberty Mutual Insurance and its affiliates, 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116. ©2017 Liberty Mutual Insurance.
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.
There are many factors that go into determining your car insurance rates. Some, like your age and gender, are out of your control. Others, like where you live and your marital status, are somewhat in your control. Finally, there are several factors that affect your auto insurance rates, like the insurance company you choose to work with, your driving record, your credit score, the kind of car you drive, and the amount of coverage you choose, that are completely within your control.
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Auto insurance is financial protection, and not just for the investment you made when you bought your car. After a really serious accident, bills for damage and injuries can easily reach into hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you happen to cause such a wreck, the victims could sue you. In the worst case scenario, assets such as your savings and home could be seized.
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.
While competition certainly helps keep premiums in check, it’s not the only factor. “In addition, under Virginia’s laws for seeking recovery, the person at fault for causing a car accident is held responsible for any resulting harm,” says Schrad. “Virginia also requires uninsured motorist coverage as part of a driver’s own auto insurance plan in case they are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver,” he continues. Not all states require drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage.
American Family: American Family car insurance is the lowest-ranked company on our list. While a fair number of customers said filing a claim with American Family was easy, that was about the only positive thing they had to say, with the company faring poorly on measures of customer service, communication about claim status, value, and claim resolution.
Deductible: A car insurance deductible is the amount of money you will be required to pay out of pocket to cover a claim. Let’s say a car rear-ends you in traffic, scratching your paint, damaging your bumper and breaking one of your tail lights. The total cost of repairs is $2,500 and your deductible is $500. You will pay the $500 and your insurance will pay out the remaining $2,000 to cover the cost of the repairs. Electing for a higher deductible is one-way drivers can secure cheaper car insurance.
An additional possible contributor to future rate hikes is the increased frequency in car crashes attributed to distracted driving—caused in large part by more people using their phones while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 2.443 million people were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2015, which is an increase from 2.217 million people in 2011. Insurers respond by raising rates to make up for the increase in insurance claims they have to pay out.
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.
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.
Three car insurance coverage levels were used, as were credit tiers of good, fair, and poor. Clean driving records and records with one accident, one speeding violation, and one DUI were also used in the calculations of certain driver archetypes. To get the state-wide study rates shown here, we computed the mean rate for male and female drivers ages 24, 35 and 60 who drive 15,000 miles per year, have medium coverage, good credit and a clean driving record. The rates shown here are for comparative purposes only and should not be considered “average” rates available by individual insurers. Because car insurance rates are based on individual factors, your car insurance rates will differ from the rates shown here.
While you might want to finish shopping for car insurance as quickly as possible, it’s important to do your due diligence and find the right company. At the end of the day, car insurance is designed to protect and benefit you. If you were to be injured or have your car totaled in an accident, your insurer’s customer service and claims satisfaction would be vital.
Allstate is more reasonable in terms of pricing, and it came out cheapest for drivers under age 25 in our quotes. Consumer Reports readers rated it just a hair lower than State Farm in overall satisfaction, but Allstate pulled ahead in J.D. Power ratings with a superior score in agent interaction. There’s no denying that Allstate is popular in Texas, with the second-most market share of any company at roughly 11.7%. It’s also one of the only companies to offer “gap” insurance for new cars, something that State Farm is missing. And if your Allstate quote is lower than those from 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.
Progressive has a slew of available discounts — including 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.