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 number one in the nation for hail damage losses, and its position at the top of the rate hike leaderboard is no surprise.
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.
Comprehensive car insurance covers damages from an "act of God," or events that are not caused by a car driving into something else. An "act of God" can include things like damage from a heavy tree branch falling on your car. Since you have no control over when or why a tree branch would fall on your car, this kind of accident would be covered under your comprehensive policy.
State legislators set limits on how much a company can increase your rates after a crash. Our hypothetical accident resulted in only $2,000 worth of damage. That caused average annual rates to spike by $1,000 or more in some states, while others jumped by far less. One thing’s for sure: Your rates will definitely increase after an at-fault accident, so be sure to compare car insurance rates if you have one on record.
But according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, newly licensed drivers are about eight times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes in their first six months than more experienced drivers. The takeaway? Experience counts. The Center for Disease Control suggests that increased education programs and parental involvement in instruction are associated with reductions of as many as 40% of fatal and injury crashes among 16-year-olds.
If your car is worth more than $3,000 and/or is less than 10 years old, we'd also suggest both collision and comprehensive coverage, too. Our estimates suggest drivers can buy comprehensive and collision insurance for an average of $600 to $700 per year (however, the cost may be higher for some cars), so you would spend $3,000 to $3,500 in premiums over five years. If your car is currently worth less than $3,000, you will have spent more on insurance than your car is worth. You can obtain the estimated value of your car from sites like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds. Once you have both the value and a quote for coverage, you can determine whether collision insurance will be worth it.
Jeeps are rarely considered luxury vehicles. They tend to be pretty bare bones. That makes them cheaper to insure. “The Jeep Wrangler is the iconic off-road vehicle, which implies a rugged lifestyle. However, most Wranglers don't spend a lot of time off the pavement, so they are spared the rough service life. When they do get damaged, the body-on-frame vehicle is easy and inexpensive to repair, and parts are plentiful,” says Harley.
The Honda Odyssey moved back into the top spot this year after dropping to second place last year, behind the Jeep Wrangler. The Odyssey costs a mere $1,298 a year to insure. That’s $514 less than the national average of $1,812. In 2010, the first year Insure.com began its rankings of new models’ insurance costs, the Odyssey cost $1,095 to insure, so its coverage price has increased just $203 in nine years.
To help you figure out if you should purchase collision coverage, you should estimate the approximate value of your vehicle. While there are a number of online resources that can help with this, including Kelley Blue Book, we recommend you speak with a State Farm® agent. In addition to helping you determine the value of your vehicle, our agents can tell you how much extra you'd pay to add collision coverage.
All of these vehicles are a bargain to insure but insurance prices have definitely gone up from last year. Our cheapest option, the Odyssey, costs $1,298 to insure compared to the last year’s top choice, the Jeep Wrangler, which ran $1,169. This is an 11 percent increase. The Jeep Wrangler saw a significant rate increase, going from $1,169 to $1,304, a jump of $135 or 11.5 percent.
Naturally, insurance companies use your driving past as an indicator of how you will drive in the future. It can be difficult to find affordable car insurance if you have a checkered driving history. While it’s very unlikely you will find an insurance company that won’t increase your premium after an at-fault accident or other violation, the degree of the rate increase will vary by company. Let’s compare rate increases for some common violations across major insurance companies.
These are on the high side, but there are still instances in which they won’t be enough to fully cover you. For example, if you accidentally hit a luxury car, replacing it could easily cost more than the $25,000 legal minimum for property damage coverage. If the other driver is injured, his or her medical bills could also exceed the $30,000 bodily injury minimum fairly easily. In each case, you’d be responsible for making up the difference yourself.
You should also look into how the company handles the claims process, as the single biggest indicator of home insurance customer satisfaction is the company’s damage estimates. If they have a reputation for not covering the agreed-upon replacement costs of property or dropping customers from their policy for filing a single claim, you should probably avoid that company.
While JD Power-recommended companies above aren’t among the cheapest of the insurance companies we’ve examined, they might suit your needs. It’s important to think beyond price to find a comfortable middle ground between claims satisfaction and affordability. Use The Zebra’s side-by-side insurance comparisons to avoid some of the legwork involved in insurance shopping.
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.
On average, an at-fault property damage accident will raise your premium by an average of $612 per year. Because most insurance providers will charge you for three years after an accident, this $612 increase equates to more than $1,800 in total fees. If you’re thinking of filing a claim, consider the overall cost of the claim versus what the claim would cost to pay out of pocket. Compare this $1,837 penalty — plus your deductible (if applicable) — to the out-of-pocket expense. While this is nice information to know before filing a claim, it won’t help if you’ve already filed a claim. If you have an at-fault accident on your insurance history, consider USAA or State Farm.
"Many companies offer discounts for good grades and for completion of an approved driver’s education or defensive driving course," continued Doreen Haughton-James of 123 Drive! Driving Academy. "Some also have their own discount programs. State Farm, for example, has a program called 'Steer Clear' where students receive discounts for logging driving hours and completing a program."
Collision coverage has a deductible, which is the amount you pay before your coverage helps pay for your claim. You can typically choose the amount of your deductible when you buy coverage. So, if you choose a $1,000 deductible and your car is later damaged in a covered accident, you'd have to pay $1,000 toward repair costs. Your collision coverage would help pay the rest, up to your coverage limit.