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.
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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.
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.
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%.
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.
As it currently stands with Texas, in the event of an accident, there’s a one in seven chance that the other driver won’t be insured. Unless you’ve purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, that’s money out of your pocket. Texas’s minimum requirements also don’t account for comprehensive coverage, which you’ll definitely want to take into consideration, since the state ranks first for monetary losses from “catastrophes” like hail storms and hurricanes.
Location-specific discounts are different for every company, but most will list at least one or two universal discounts that apply regardless of location. Farmers doesn’t list any of these; this means that you may or may not qualify for discounts, depending on your location. To find out if you’re eligible for any, contact a Farmers agent in your area.
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.
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