Shopping for Insurance Resource Page
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Shopping for insurance can result in better rates and a policy that best fits your needs. This resource page combines tips and resources to help you begin shopping for any line of insurance.
HelpInsure.com is a free and secure service to help Texans shop online for homeowners insurance. Agents and companies writing homeowners insurance in Texas can view your online profile and contact you to discuss your insurance needs.
TexasHealthOptions.com is a one-stop resource of the state of Texas and TDI to help you find and compare health care coverage options. Consumers will also find resource information to health-related non-profit groups and state and federal agencies.
For answers to general insurance questions or for information on filing an insurance-related complaint, visit our website at www.tdi.texas.gov or call the Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Central time, Monday-Friday.
- Find an Agent
- List of insurance companies of interest to consumers. Lists includes major Texas insurance companies based on policy premiums (homeowners, auto, workers´ compensation, accident and health, HMO, life and annuities).
- List of insurance companies writing residential property insurance along the Gulf Coast
- Start shopping immediately.
- Make sure your agent and company are licensed. Check agents' and companies' license status and buy only from licensed agents and companies. Find out whether a company or agent is licensed by calling the Consumer Help Line or by using the Agent Lookup and Company Lookup features on our website.
- Use an insurance agent to help you shop. Some agents represent only a single company or company group. Independent agents may represent several companies. Including independent agents in your search can help you get quotes from multiple companies with a single call. To find an agent near you, use your local yellow pages or visit www.helpinsure.com, a free service of the state and TDI that helps people shop for homeowners insurance.
- Make sure your insurance agent and company are licensed. To verify whether an agent or company is licensed, call our Consumer Help Line or use the Agent and Insurer Search features on our website.
- Understand homeowners policy types and coverages. Insurance companies may sell several types of homeowners policies in Texas, each with a different level of coverage. When comparing policies, make sure you compare policies with similar coverages. Use the Shopping for Homeowners Insurance Company/Policy Comparison Worksheet and the Shopping for Auto Insurance Company/Policy Comparison Worksheet to help you gather information about companies and the policies they offer.
- HO-A policies provide limited actual cash value coverage of your home and its contents. Only the types of damage specifically listed in the policy are covered. The HO-A is a standardized Texas policy. This means the coverages in the policy, unless endorsed otherwise, will be identical, regardless of the company selling it. Keep in mind that even though the coverages are identical in a standardized policy, the price can vary by company.
- HO-A amended policies provide more extensive coverage than the base HO-A policy but less coverage than an HO-B. Coverage provided by these policies may differ by company.
- HO-B policies provide replacement cost coverage for most types of damage, except those specifically excluded in the policy. The HO-B is a standardized Texas policy.
- Approved alternative policies offer varying levels of coverage. Companies may only sell alternative policies approved by the Commissioner of Insurance. Coverage may differ considerably from one company to another. In general, HO-B policies provide the most coverage for the price, but not all companies sell them. Ask companies or agents to identify and explain the different policy forms.
- You can compare the coverages included in different policies on the Office of Public Insurance Counsel website, www.opic.texas.gov.
- Decide whether you need wind/hail or flood coverage. Homeowners policies sold in Texas' 14 coastal counties and in certain parts of Harris County might not cover wind and hail damage. You may need to buy these coverages separately from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA). Visit the TWIA website, www.twia.org, for more information. Homeowners policies do not cover damage caused by rising waters. You can buy a separate policy to cover most types of flooding from the National Flood Insurance Program. Call NFIP at 1-800-427-4661 or visit its website, www.floodsmart.gov. Also use the Homeowners, Flood, and Windstorm Policies Comparison chart to see the differences between homeowners, flood, and wind and hail insurance.
- Consider factors other than price. A company's complaint history and financial rating can indicate the level of service you will receive. Call our Consumer Help Line or use the Insurer Search feature on our website.
- Get quotes from several companies. Rates can vary significantly among companies, so shop around. Visit www.HelpInsure.com website to help you narrow your search. The website is a free service of TDI and the Office of Public Insurance Counsel. It includes sample rates from various companies licensed to sell insurance in Texas and other information to help you shop. Call the companies directly to get an exact rate quote.
- Ask about payment options. Some insurance companies offer payment plans that allow you to pay your premium in installments. For example, you may be able to make monthly payments, rather than paying your entire annual premium at once. However, TWIA and some insurance companies require you to pay your full annual premium in a lump sum in advance. If you cannot afford to pay the entire premium at once, ask your agent about premium finance companies. Premium finance companies will pay your premium in a lump sum for you and allow you to then repay the money, plus interest and service fees, in installments. Make sure you understand the down payment, the number of installments, interest or service fees, and the amount of your total monthly payment. Sometimes the premium finance company might be owned by the agent selling your policy. The insurance agent must tell you if your installment plan is with a premium finance company and must give you the premium finance company's name.
- Ask about discounts. Some companies offer discounts. The discounts offered and their amounts vary by company.
- Answer questions truthfully. Giving incorrect information when you apply for insurance could lead to an incorrect rate quote or a denial or cancellation of coverage. An insurance company may cancel your policy within the first 60 days if it gives you 30 days' notice.
- Choose the highest deductible you can afford. Higher deductibles will lower your premium, but you'll have to pay more out of pocket if you have a claim.
- Know how your credit score affects you. Insurance companies may consider your credit score when deciding whether to sell you a policy and the price to charge you. They cannot deny you coverage or refuse to renew your policy solely because of your credit score, however.
- When shopping for coverage, visit www.TexasHealthOptions.com to learn about your options and to help you locate agents and companies selling insurance in your area.
- Be sure you understand the full extent of the coverage that is included in any health plan you're considering. If you have more than one option, choose the plan with the highest level of coverage you can afford. The higher a plan's deductibles, copays, and coinsurance, the more you can usually save on premiums. However, you'll also have to pay more out of pocket for claims.
- Consider factors other than cost. A carrier's financial rating and history of consumer complaints are other important considerations. Also make sure your carrier is licensed by TDI. You can learn a company's financial rating from an independent rating organization, its complaints history, and its license status by calling TDI's Consumer Help Line or by viewing company profiles on our website.
- Ask your friends, family, and physician for health plan recommendations. Be sure to ask these questions before buying a health plan:
- Will the plan allow you to visit your choice of physicians and hospitals?
- Are there limits on medications, referrals to specialists, or treatments and surgeries?
- Are there benefit limits per person, family, illness, treatment, and/or hospital stay?
- What is the procedure for out-of-network emergency care?
- Does the plan have annual or lifetime maximums?
Companies have different standards for accepting new customers. If you're having trouble finding coverage, consider contacting the Texas FAIR Plan Association at 1-800-252-3439 or online at www.texasfairplan.org for homeowners insurance.
To be eligible for the FAIR Plan, you must have been declined coverage by at least two insurance companies and may not have received an offer for a comparable policy from an insurance company licensed in Texas. Although the FAIR Plan policy does not provide wind and hail coverage for property located in one of the state's 14 coastal counties or in parts of Harris County on Galveston Bay, it does provide wind and hail coverage in the remainder of the state.
- If My Insurance Company Fails
- Shopping Smart
- Helping You With Your Insurance Complaint
- Insurance Fraud
- Glossary of Common Insurance Terms
- Homeowners Insurance
- Windstorm Insurance Inspections
- Glossary of Common Homeowners Insurance Terms
- Home Inventory Checklist
- Homeowners, Flood, and Windstorm Policies Comparison
Consumer publications are available online and in print. To order printed copies, call the 24-hour Publications Order Line at 1-800-599-SHOP (7467).
TDI accepts and reviews written complaints against insurance companies, HMOs, insurance agents, adjusters, and fully insured or fully funded health benefit plans (health plans purchased by an employer from an insurance company or HMO).
For information on filing an insurance-related complaint, visit our website at www.tdi.texas.gov/consumer/complfrm.html or call the Consumer Help Line between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Central time, Monday-Friday.
Insurance fraud is a crime and victimizes more than those directly affected by illegal schemes. It can also lead to increased costs for insurance companies that drive up policy rates for all consumers.
To prevent becoming a victim of fraud, follow a few tips:
- Shop around
- Get information from TDI
- Take your time shopping for insurance
- Pay by check or credit card
- Be cautious of policies sold door to door or over the phone
- Take precautions buying insurance over the Internet
- Keep copies of policies and correspondence between you and the companies you're considering
- Remember: if it's too good to be true, it probably is.
Insurance fraud is a crime. If you believe you've been a target of insurance fraud or you become aware of a fraud operation, report it to the TDI Fraud Unit online at www.tdi.texas.gov/fraud/report.html or by calling our toll-free Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439.
For more information contact:
Last updated: 10/02/2015