A Quick Guide to Auto Insurance

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Having the right auto insurance company and coverage is vital when (not “if”) you are involved in a motor vehicle incident.  We have all heard the old adage, “You get what you pay for.”  That same truism applies to car insurance as well.  However, who you choose isn’t necessarily as important as what coverages you elect. Choosing the right automobile insurance coverage can be a tricky process. You have to consider deductibles, coverage types and coverage amounts while also trying to make your dollar go further. Here are some tips to help you make this important decision so you’re covered in case of an accident.

Types of Coverages

Liability coverage is what most people think of when they hear the term “auto insurance.”  This type of coverage insures you against damages when an accident is your fault.  This is the most basic type of automobile insurance coverage that everyone must have to legally drive in the State of Texas.

Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist (“UM/UIM”) coverage protects you from a catastrophic incident you haven’t caused and irresponsible drivers who don’t carry insurance at all. Make sure whatever liability coverage you decide on ($30K, $50K, $100K, etc.) that your UM/UIM coverage matches it.

Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) is an important extension to your auto insurance policy.  Often called “no-fault” coverage, PIP covers medical expenses and lost wages irrespective of who is at fault.  You should always max out your PIP coverage. PIP has almost zero impact on your overall rate and is ultimately free money if you’re involved in an accident. PIP is better than MedPay because it covers more than just medical expenses. Also, insurance companies are not allowed to request repayment from PIP benefits whereas they can reach out and take back the money they pay you for MedPay.

Are they actually saving you money?

Many insurance carriers claim they can save you $XXX over your current insurance. This may be true, but you must be vigilant that you are comparing apples to apples. Typically – not always – the way insurance companies “save you money” is by providing you with less coverage than you had previously.  So, while they may be “saving you money” over the life of the policy, it may not always be in your best interest.

Consumer Tips and Tricks

There are a few useful, less-known resources to help you shop for your auto insurance. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI http://www.tdi.texas.gov/) is a good place to research consumer complaints against insurance providers. The TDI website also has a more in-depth breakdown of the different types of coverages you can buy in Texas.  The Office of Public Insurance Council (OPIC https://www.opic.texas.gov/) has a tool for side-by-side comparisons of insurance providers.  Both are great, unbiased resources to help you make the right decision for you and your family.

Final Thoughts

When you are shopping for car insurance, make sure you ask the right questions.  The above will certainly help with that, but this is not intended to be a comprehensive list.  Do your research. Ask questions. Don’t use vague terms like “full coverage” when you tell an agent what you are looking for. There is no such thing as “full coverage” in Texas. You are just giving the agent an opportunity to create a definition for you that may not actually meet your needs. Instead, tell them exactly what types of coverage you need to properly ensure the safety of you and your family.

For additional information, or if you have been injured due to the carelessness or negligence of another, please give us a call at 713-781-8600 or shoot us an email at [email protected]. We would be honored to be your voice when you need it the most.


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