#homeowners auto insurance
Shopping Smart for Insurance
Shopping for insurance is like shopping for any major item. It’s a good idea to compare companies and products to find the best price, quality, and customer service.
The Texas Department of Insurance maintains HelpInsure.com and TexasHealthOptions.com to help you learn more about insurance and to start shopping.
- HelpInsure.com is a free and secure service of TDI and the Office of Public Insurance Counsel (OPIC) to help you shop for auto, homeowners, condo, and renters insurance. You can find sample rates, compare policy coverages, and view company profiles that show a company’s history, complaint index, and financial rating from an independent rating organization. You will need to call the companies directly to get an exact rate quote.
- TexasHealthOptions.com is a resource to help you find and understand health insurance coverage. You can search common types of policies, see proposed company rate increases, find statewide health resources, and learn about comparing the cost and quality of health plans.
Once you re ready to shop for insurance, keep these tips in mind:
- Get quotes from several companies. Rates can vary among companies, so get several quotes. When comparing prices, make sure you understand the benefits and coverages. Visit HelpInsure.com for sample rates from home and auto insurance companies. Visit HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 for plans in the federally operated online insurance marketplace.
- Include independent agents in your search. Some agents represent only a single company or company group. Independent agents usually represent several companies and can give you more than one quote at a time.
- Look at factors other than price. Buy only from licensed insurance companies and agents. Also, make sure the companies you’re considering are financially stable and have good customer service. You can learn an agent s or company s financial rating, complaint index, and license status by calling the Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439 or by visiting our website at www.tdi.texas.gov .
- Decide what coverages you want and need. For auto and homeowners insurance, review your limits annually to ensure that you have enough coverage to replace your car and house if they re destroyed. For health insurance, make sure the plan you get offers the benefits and coverages you need. Also ask whether the plan will allow you to see your current doctors and covers your current prescriptions.
- Take your time. Don’t be pressured into buying a policy. Ethical agents won t pressure you into buying a policy before you know what you want and need.
- Understand how cost-sharing works. You can save money on premiums by buying a policy with higher deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. But understand that you ll have to pay more out of pocket if you have a claim. For health insurance, you ll have to pay more each time you go to the doctor, fill a prescription, or get a covered health service.
- Ask your agent about discounts. Most home and auto insurance companies offer discounts that will lower your premium. Ask if you re eligible for any discounts the company offers.
- Answer questions truthfully when you apply for insurance or ask for a rate quote. If you give wrong information, the company could give you an incorrect price quote, reject your insurance application, cancel your policy later on, or deny your benefits. Never sign a blank policy application, and check any information the agent fills in on the form.
- Don t pay cash to an agent. Make payments by check or money order payable directly to the insurance company or HMO, not the agent. Get a receipt for your payment.
- Make sure you have uninterrupted coverage. Never cancel a policy until you get your new policy or a written binder. A binder proves you have coverage until the company issues your policy.
- Keep shopping if a company turns you down. Different companies have different criteria for accepting customers. If you re having trouble finding insurance, consider the Texas FAIR Plan Association for homeowners insurance and the Texas Automobile Insurance Plan Association (TAIPA) for auto insurance.
- Know your rights. All auto and homeowners policies in Texas must include a Consumer Bill of Rights that explains your legal rights and responsibilities. Read it carefully. You can also read the bills of rights on the TDI website at www.tdi.texas.gov .
For More Information or Help
For answers to general insurance questions, for information about filing an insurance-related complaint, or to report suspected insurance fraud, call the Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central time, Monday-Friday, or visit our website at www.tdi.texas.gov .
To report suspected arson or suspicious activity involving fires, call the State Fire Marshal’s 24-hour Arson Hotline at 1-877-4FIRE45 (434-7345).
The information in this publication is current as of the revision date. Changes in laws and agency administrative rules made after the revision date may affect the content. View current information on our website. TDI distributes this publication for educational purposes only. This publication is not an endorsement by TDI of any service, product, or company.
For more information contact:
Last updated: 10/01/2015