Automobile Insurance

Shopping Guide

Shopping for insurance can be confusing. Most people shop based on price, but choosing the right coverage and company are important, too.

*⃣There are different ways to shop for insurance. Captive agents sell policies for only one company. Independent agents sell policies from more than one company. Some companies don’t use agents. They use call centers, websites, or phone apps instead.

Learn the Basics.  It’s important to understand your options before you shop. See The Basics section to learn about common automobile insurance coverages.

3 Cs of Shopping

   The Three C’s of Shopping:

   Cost, Coverage, and Customize

 

Cost

3 Cs of Shopping

Use HelpInsure.com. This is a free tool from our office and the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI). You can compare sample prices, find discounts, get complaint info, and see rankings for many companies in Texas. You’ll still need to contact an agent or company to get exact prices.

Search online. The web is a good source of info as well.  You can look for agents and companies, and read reviews.

Ask a company or agent. They can answer your questions and help you compare policies and prices.

  • What deductibles do you offer?
  • How much do the different deductibles change my payment?
  • Do I have to pay any fees not included in the quoted premium?
  • What will my total payment be?
Coverage

3 Cs of ShoppingUnderstand what coverage you must have. You must buy a certain amount of auto liability coverage under state law. Currently, the minimum limits are 30/60/25, which means the policy will pay:

  • up to $30,000 per person for injuries,
  • up to $60,000 maximum per accident, and
  • up to $25,000 for property damage caused by you to another person’s property.

This is basic insurance and covers only injuries or damage you cause to others. It does not cover you or your property. You may also buy other insurance for your own injuries or property, or to cover damage from drivers who do not have insurance. But those other types are not required by law. If you have more questions about auto insurance, you may find the answers in The Basics section of our website.

Use the OPIC Policy Comparison Tool. OPIC created this free tool. It lets you compare policies from different companies.

Ask questions. When you talk to a company or agent, ask:

What policies do you sell?

  • What policy do you sell the most?
  • What policy has the most coverage?
  • How are they different?

What does the policy cover?

  • Will this policy cover everyone in my household or just those listed on the policy?
  • What happens if someone not listed on the policy drives my car and causes an accident?
  • What coverage do I have for any damage to my car? For example, will this policy cover my car for collision, theft, fire, hail, or flood damage?
  • What coverage do I need to protect myself from uninsured or underinsured drivers, or hit-and-run drivers?

Special Considerations

  • What coverage do I have for a rental car or if I am driving someone else’s vehicle?
  • What types of business uses are not covered? Am I covered if I or a family member:
    • drive for a rideshare company?
    • deliver items such as pizza or groceries?
    • drive to different job sites like house cleaning or lawn care?
    • rent my car out for others to use (person-to-person car sharing)?
Customize

3 Cs of ShoppingEndorsements. Endorsements are policy changes that give more or less coverage, and change your premium. You can choose to add some endorsements. Other endorsements are “mandatory endorsements” and are not optional.

Ask questions. When you talk to a company or agent, ask:

  • What endorsements do most people buy?
  • Are there any mandatory endorsements?
  • How much will this cost or save me?
  • What discounts are available?
  • Is coverage available for custom sound equipment, rims, or tool boxes?
  • Is coverage available for Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) only parts? (Most OEM parts are made or sold by your car manufacturer specifically for your car.)

Other Things to Think About

  • You can check agent and company licenses using TDI’s Agent Lookup and Company Lookup. The Company Lookup tool also gives other info like the company’s financial rating and complaint statistics.
  • If you can’t find insurance, the Texas Automobile Insurance Plan Association (TAIPA) offers minimum liability limits (30/60/25), PIP $2,500, and UM/UIM (30/60/25).

Click to download a checklist of questions to ask an agent

We’ve created a helpful, printable checklist of questions to ask an agent while you’re shopping for auto insurance.

More Terms to Know

Claim – a request made to an insurance company to pay for damage or injury.

Coverage –  the damage or injuries an insurance company agrees to pay for under the policy.

First-party claim – a claim filed by you against your own insurance policy.

Liability – when you are responsible for other people’s injuries or damage to their property.

Policy – a contract between you and the insurance company. The policy tells you what’s covered and what the insurance company is required to pay.

Premium – the amount you pay an insurance company for your policy.

Third-party claim – a claim you file against another person’s insurance policy or a claim someone files against your policy.

More Terms to Know

Claim – a request made to an insurance company to pay for damage or injury.

Coverage –  the damage or injuries an insurance company agrees to pay for under the policy.

First-party claim – a claim filed by you against your own insurance policy.

Liability – when you are responsible for other people’s injuries or damage to their property.

Policy – a contract between you and the insurance company. The policy tells you what’s covered and what the insurance company is required to pay.

Premium – the amount you pay an insurance company for your policy.

Third-party claim – a claim you file against another person’s insurance policy or a claim someone files against your policy.