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.
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The best companies will also have several supplemental coverage options, or endorsements, that you can add to your homeowners policy. Endorsements can vary, as some provide higher coverage limits for certain types of personal property like jewelry or fine furs; or they can provide supplemental coverage for risks — like water backups, floods, or earthquakes — not covered by home insurance.
Insurance companies cannot raise premiums instantaneously to reflect incurred losses. That's because rate changes—in most states—must be submitted and reviewed by the state's department of insurance before they can go into effect. As a result, rate changes that are brought on by a loss-causing event—such as a hurricane—may take some time to go into effect.
Insurers will likely continue with rate increases if they continue to see negative underwriting profit margins. Across the 10 largest insurance companies, this trend has been linked to increased car insurance rates in recent years. From 2014 to 2017, these companies posted a year-over-year average underwriting profit margin of -3.8% and average rate increases of 5.1%.
I was with Liberty Mutual for about 15 years and was very satisfied with their prices and service, although I never filed a claim. When I retired and moved from California to Florida, my auto rate went up a ridiculous amount, to almost $10,000 a year even though I had no accidents and one minor moving violation in the last ten years. On top of that, Liberty Mutual screwed up my umbrella policy and told me it was “unenforceable,” whatever that means, but I had to pay for the policy anyway up to the time I canceled and switched to Progressive, which cost about one third the cost of Liberty Mutual for an identical policy. Even good companies change over time.
Each insurance company evaluates personal factors in its own way, and they keep their methods as hidden as possible. So we can’t tell you which company puts high value in your occupation or emphasizes a clean driving history more than others. But to help you get going, we can show you a car insurance rate comparison for the same hypothetical driver and car, using average rates from across the country.
It is difficult to project whether rates will continue to rise, as there are so many factors that determine car insurance pricing. If loss-causing trends continue—such as more expensive vehicle repairs, distracted driving crashes and vehicle damage due to extreme weather—consumers should see premiums increase. However, if these trends reverse and there are fewer accidents and milder weather, then car insurance rates could plateau or even decrease.
Heightened losses in recent years have led to a 7.2% rate hike across the 10 largest auto insurers in 2017. This rate increase followed a year in which eight of the 10 largest auto insurers reported a negative underwriting profit. In the table below, a combined loss ratio of more than 100% indicates the company incurred more in losses and expenses than it earned in premiums.
Bad auto insurance comes in many forms. With bad car insurance, premiums are higher than they should be, or the company offers low premiums but minimal coverage. Some car insurance companies have poor customer service and don’t effectively communicate the status of your auto insurance claim. Others require you to use only repair shops that they approve of, and those shops can be inconvenient to access, forcing you to travel across town for repairs or wait weeks for an appointment. Still other auto insurance companies don’t have a comprehensive network of adjusters, so you have to wait longer for your claim to be processed so you can get the repairs you need. In a worst-case scenario, a car insurance company may not have the financial resources to pay claims, leaving its customers high and dry.
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.
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Texas is home to the second-highest number of active duty military personnel in the country. USAA caters to both active and retired military service members and their families and holds down 8.4% of the Texas auto insurance market share. Its auto insurance comes with a plethora of discounts, and you can even save by bundling auto with homeowners or renters insurance. You can also get ride-share coverage through USAA, which is an emerging but still uncommon add-on in the current market.
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.
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.
Any car insurance comparison tool you look at should have your state’s minimum car insurance requirements pre-loaded into its options. States requiring PIP or medpay are generally referred to as “no-fault” states, meaning that when injuries occur, each driver in a crash makes a claim with their own insurance company to pay for them. Beyond the PIP or medpay limit, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance kicks in to cover the rest.
Liability auto insurance protects you from that worst case scenario by providing a cushion between your assets and the amount you’re on the hook for. For this reason, choosing the right auto liability limits is the most important part of your car insurance quote comparison. NerdWallet typically recommends having at least as much liability coverage as your net worth.