Auto insurance rates in Texas climbing

AUSTIN — The high cost of fixing damaged cars and trucks in Texas has pushed up the price of auto insurance in the state to 11th highest in the nation. 

Overall, Texas drivers paid an average premium of $1,022 a year for insurance, well above the national average of $901. Louisiana drivers were charged the highest premiums in the country, an average $1,270 a year.

Rising costs for parts

Factors include, the high cost of collision coverage to the large percentage of uninsured motorists in the state, as well as increased charges by auto body shops. Repair costs have been going up in recent years, and we are seeing ever higher price spikes in the metropolitan areas of Dallas and Houston.

More people, cars

Another factor in auto insurance rates is the growing population in the state, particularly in urban areas. Texas is a fast-growing state, and in cities like Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, the population density is contributing to more accidents, particularly where texting, speed or alcohol are involved.

A study by The Dallas Morning News last fall showed that many drivers in the Dallas area saw their insurance rates jump by an average of 8 percent during 2011. Industry representatives attributed the higher premiums to increased medical costs and new minimum limits for liability coverage in Texas.

AT A GLANCE: Factors that affect auto insurance premiums Driving record and claims history:

A good driving record and no at-fault accidents reduces premiums

Age / marital status: Male drivers younger than 25 and unmarried women younger 21 pay the highest rates, while drivers over 50 may get discounts.

Where the car is kept: Rates are higher in urban areas than rural areas because drivers in urban areas have more accidents and auto thefts. Type of car: Collision and comprehensive rates are higher for luxury, high-performance and sports cars.

Car’s primary use: Rates for cars driven solely for pleasure are lower than rates for cars driven to and from work or used for business.

Credit score: Most companies use the driver’s credit score to decide whether to sell a policy and what to charge, with a better credit score bringing lower rates.

Whether the driver lacked insurance: Companies may charge more if the driver was uninsured in Texas for more than 30 days in the year before the driver applied for coverage.

Discounts that reduce the cost of auto insurance:

Defensive driving courses. Driver education classes for young drivers.

Students with good grades.

Parent or family whose young driver is away at school without a car.

Two or more cars on one policy.

Policy renewal with good driving record and no at-fault claims.

Concurrent homeowners policy.

Vehicle options such as anti-lock brakes and anti-theft devices.


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