Here's what Texas drivers need to know about finding the right car insurance coverage for their needs.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, from the BBQ to the history to the hair. And Texas drivers have Texas-sized car insurance needs. Car insurance rates in Texas aren’t among the very highest in the nation, but they’re higher than the national average.
In 2015, the average annual cost of car insurance in Texas was $1,109.66, a hundred dollars more than the national average that year, which was $1,009.38. The high cost of car insurance means choosing the right coverage is all the more important.
And whether they’re in hip Austin, along the gulf in Corpus Christi, in the big city in Houston or in the deserts of West Texas, Lone Star drivers have a lot of reason to want to protect their vehicles. Depending on where in Texas you live, your car might be affected by tornados, hurricane or flooding. Texas drivers have to make sure they’re choosing sufficient coverage for their needs and coverage that meets the Texas state minimum requirements for car insurance.
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At least a minimum amount of car insurance is legally required in almost every state in the U.S., and those requirements always include liability insurance. The backbone of most insurance policies, liability coverage protects you from financial liability if you cause an accident that injures someone else or damages someone else’s property.
Some states require more than just liability insurance — but Texas is not one of those states. The Lone Star State only requires its drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage and other coverages, including personal injury protection and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, both of which are required in some states, are optional in Texas. Here’s a closer look:
Remember, choosing just the state-required minimums can leave you unprotected. The Texas requirements are just a starting point. Having low liability coverage limits can leave you on the hook for the rest of the costs if you cause an accident and the damage exceeds your limits.
And going without additional coverage like comprehensive and collision will leave your vehicle unprotected from damage caused by a crash or other incident, including extreme weather. If you lease or finance a car, your lessor or lienholder will likely require you to add comp and collision to your car insurance policy.
|Insurance Company||J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction Rating||Market Share||A.M. Best Rating|
|Berkshire Hathaway (GEICO)||857||12.43%||A++|
Methodology: These five insurers represent the largest auto insurers operating in the state of Texas, according to the NAIC. The claims satisfaction ratings are according to J.D. Power’s 2018 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study.
Coverage and claims: Farmers - Farmers insurance earned a stellar score on the J.D. 2018 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study: Its score of 874 was well above the industry average of 861, and put it near the top tier of car insurance companies. Farmers offers a wide range of coverage options, including some non-standard ones like original equipment manufacturer (OEM) coverage and customized equipment coverage.
Low rates and discounts: GEICO - Among affordable car insurance carriers, GEICO stands out by offering a wide range of discounts to help you save, including discounts for federal employees, GEICO’s original clientele. GEICO also offers discounts for vehicle features like having an anti-theft system, discounts based on driving history and a range of affiliation discounts.
Digital tools: Allstate - Allstate’s website is well designed and easy to use. It includes extras like learning resources and quizzes in addition to its online quote generator. And the Allstate app for your smartphone is free to download and allows you to report and follow your claims, take photos of damage to your car, reach an Allstate representative and carry digital proof of insurance with you at all times. The Allstate app also includes a locator for finding the cheapest gas near you and a parking reminder for drivers who have a hard time remembering where they left their car.
Teen drivers: State Farm - Teen drivers are notoriously expensive to insure because insurance companies see them as a higher risk due to their age and inexperience. State Farm offers some unique ways to both offset that extra cost and help teens and young adults learn to be better, safer drivers. Their Steer Clear program is for drivers under the age of 25. Newer drivers can use the Steer Clear app to track their driving, take quizzes and watch informational videos, and completing the program earns you a discount.
According to a 2017 report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, in 2015, the average annual cost of car insurance in Texas was $1,109.66, higher than the average cost of car insurance in the U.S. that year which was $1,009.38. Here’s that information broken down by the average cost of different types of coverage.
As we mentioned above, Texas only requires its drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage. But Texas drivers should seriously consider getting more car insurance coverage than the required minimums, including personal injury protection and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. To determine what coverage you need, consider what type of protection each kind offers you.
Texas is an “at-fault” car insurance state, meaning that after an accident, the driver who was at fault is responsible for the damage or injuries they cause. (As opposed to a no-fault state, where drivers must get compensation for their damage or injuries through their own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault.) In no-fault states, drivers are required to have personal injury protection to cover themselves in case of an accident, but in an at-fault state like Texas, any damage or injuries would be covered by the at-fault party’s liability insurance.
Flooding, hurricanes and tornadoes are extreme weather events that many Texans may have to deal with, depending on where in the state they live. For example in 2017, Hurricane Harvey flooded parts of the Texas Gulf Coast, damaging homes and vehicles, some of them beyond recovery. Texas drivers should know that damage from flooding and extreme weather is covered by comprehensive insurance. Comp insurance also covers damage from animals, in case an actual longhorn takes out their rage on your vehicle.
Spanish language driver's license testing is available at some Texas driver’s license offices, according to the state’s Department of Public Safety. The knowledge portion of the test is available in both Spanish and English, but drivers must be familiar with road signs that are written in English to pass. And the driving portion of the test may be given in Spanish, but only if a Spanish-speaking customer service representative is available. Drivers can also bring someone along to translate before and after the tests, but they cannot help you during the tests themselves.
Anna Swartz is a Managing Editor at Policygenius in New York City, and an expert in auto insurance. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic, writing about news and culture. Her work has appeared in The Dodo, AOL, HuffPost, Salon and Heeb.
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