Your auto insurance rate depends on who you are as a driver, as well as your age, your credit, your vehicle, and your location. How insurance companies weigh these attributes is reflected in your premium. For example, having a limited driving history or a poor credit score can raise your rates dramatically. Our analysis of major rating factors shows how premiums shift from company to company.
If you live in an area with unusual state regulations or heightened risk of weather-related claims, shopping car insurance options will be vital. Not every car insurance company offers policies in every state, which can make pricing less competitive. If you live in storm-prone states like Louisiana or Florida, you might find it harder to get a competitive rate.
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.
We started by identifying Texas’s five biggest auto insurers by market share, and compared their financial strength, coverage options, and customer service, using methodology similar to our review on nationwide providers. Then, we checked J.D. Power and Consumer Reports to see how each company’s customers scored them, both overall and on their claims experiences. Next, we looked at the Texas Department of Insurance’s “Complaint Index” for each company — a measure of how consumer complaints filed against them compare to the state average. And finally we collected quotes for six hypothetical drivers, taking note of each company’s available endorsements and discounts.
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.”
Like a DUI, a reckless driving citation can raise your car insurance rates. If you’ve received a reckless driving citation, your best bets for cheap car insurance are USAA and State Farm, despite the latter being one of the more expensive insurance companies if you don’t have a violation. This shows the importance of comparing car insurance rates carefully — your driving profile will be handled differently by every carrier.
The main difference between collision and comprehensive coverage comes down to the question of what the driver controls. Collision insurance will cover events within a motorist's control or when another vehicle collides with your car. Comprehensive coverage generally falls under "acts of God or nature," or things that are typically out of your control when driving. These can include events such as a spooked deer, a heavy hailstorm, or a carjacking.
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.