The Houston area has some of the highest personal auto insurance rates in Texas. Alvin, Pearland, Friendswood, Manvel, and other Houston suburban towns’ rates are influenced by their proximity to Houston. Currently, independent agencies that represent more than five auto insurance companies have an advantage over direct writers and smaller agencies. The advantage was created by computers.
Computers have created a tremendous amount of change in the insurance industry. Computers allow the companies to process information and take action quicker. The impact of computers can be argued as favorable or adverse. The fact is computers are here to stay. One of the greatest changes is regarding the classification of drivers.
In the “old days” the lower risk driver premiums were based off a rate derived by the Texas Department of Insurance. There were about 15 different classes of drivers. If you were over 25 years old and drove your car to and from work, you were a 1B. Now, the insurance companies have many additional classes. For example most carriers will have 50 different driver classes. Within each class there are 1,000 cells. Instead of 15 old classes there are 50,000 new classes of drivers. The reason is the insurance companies are underwriting your lifestyle.
To the consumer it means your driver class changes much more frequently. The criteria vary between insurance companies, but most companies utilize a list of approximately 40 factors. Any change in marriage status, credit score, vehicle, employment, household drivers, age, etc. will alter your driver class.
Advice: Each insurance company has preferred driver and vehicle classes. The preferred classes do not correspond between companies. Your class will change regularly. It’s fine to be insured with State Farm or Allstate, but you should acquire a quote from an independent agency. Choose an agent that represents numerous (5 or more) auto insurance companies. On 01/01 2018, Independent Insurance Counselors has access to 13 different personal auto carriers. You might be pleasantly surprised with the independent agent. If the independent agent plans properly, the independent agent’s insurance companies will have superior pricing for more classes than the direct writers.