How much does insurance cost?

As we navigate this great big world, we rarely ask ourselves this question unless we have found ourselves in a position to need some sort of insurance.  Insurance is such a general term, so the answer to this can go in a variety of different ways.  I will do my best to guide you in the realm of insurance premiums, so you can continue your own navigations, feeling secure in your decisions in coverage.

Since our agency is located in Texas, I will keep my references related to our state specifically.  Texas have a regulatory body called the Texas Department of Insurance or TDI for those in the know…like you.  The TDI regulates how much an insurance company can charge for all insurances including Home, Auto, Commercial Products, Health Insurance etc.  The only thing it does not regulate is the National Flood Insurance Program or NFIP (insurance likes its anagrams).  The NFIP is regulated by the US Government.

Back to the question at hand, how much will it cost you?  I’m going to break it down by product, so you can review the product that is important to you:

Auto Insurance:

Auto Insurance premiums vary greatly based on a variety of different factors that most of us are aware of already like age, driving records, type of coverage and claims history.  Other things that we don’t think about will also affect our score like credit, type of vehicle you are driving and where you live, and how much you drive.  If you live in an urban area versus a rural area you will be paying more, because there are more cars where you drive and the likelihood of an accident occurring is greater.  If you are between the ages of 30 – 50, have a mid-range vehicle and carry full coverage you can expect to pay about a $100 per vehicle per month.  If you are younger expect to pay higher premiums and if you have a vehicle that is higher in value or have had a claim recently expect these premiums to go up. If you are insuring more than one vehicle, you will often receive a multi-car discount which can make this amount go down. If you live in or around the Houston area, these rates can vary greatly depending where in the city you live.  Houstonians experienced a general increase in auto insurance premiums after Irma and Harvey, as over 1 million vehicles were considered total losses after the storm. 

Home Insurance:

This is a question I navigate on a regular basis.  A friendly customer, neighbor or friend will say something along the lines of “hey, you know insurance, how much should insurance cost for my house, I feel like I’m paying too much”.  I always smile and shrug and say “that is a great question, I have no idea.”  This is the most honest answer I can provide considering there are SO many factors involved in calculating home insurance giving people ballpark ranges never works out.  So how DO you know if you are paying too much?  Quote…get lots and lots of quotes.  Talk to more than one agent.  Talk to your local independent agent they will have access to a dozen or more companies and can do most of the work for you or a trusted referred agent who is with one of the big national companies like State Farm or Farmers.  Once you get all these quotes keep in mind that not all home insurance is created equal so go to a website like OPIC.com to compare coverage and make sure everything that is important to you is included on the policy.  Then look at the amount of coverage they are offering on your house and the deductible.  I have quoted my personal home and received quotes between $1000 and $2000 depending on the type of coverage and deductible I choose.  When you have decided on a policy that is comfortable in price for you and coverage you are good with do the following mental exercise:  consider the worst possible scenario, your house burns down to the ground and you have lost everything, are you still comfortable with your decision.  If the answer is yes, then you are good to go.  This may seem like a daunting task but get yourself a good agent and they will help you navigate the options and explain all the coverage in a way that makes this process a little easier.

Flood Insurance:

Most people will purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP.  The NFIP regulates these prices on a very specific algorithm.  First, they’ll ask what flood zone your home, condo or apartment is in, to find out, visit their site at here . You just plug in your address and it will give you the flood zone for your house.  If you are in an X or B zone then you most likely qualify for a “Preferred” flood policy, which means that you can purchase up to $250,000 in coverage for your property and $100,000 for your contents for the price of $500 a year.  See the below table for other coverage options.

Tables from www.FEMA.gov

If you are a renter or a condo owner, you also qualify for flood insurance.  During Harvey a majority of people who experienced loss and were uncovered were renters in apartments on the first floor.  Renters insurance doesn’t coverage damage caused by flood. Click here to see what renters covers and what it doesn’t

If you are in something other than a B or X zone like an A or V zone your flood rates will be determined on a variety of factors like how elevated your home is, what type of foundation you have, and how close to a body of water you are located.  Only an insurance agent can provide you a quote for a non-preferred policy.  They will often request for you to have an elevation certificate which is document that can be provided by an engineer.  This type of insurance can get tricky especially if you live close to the coast like Galveston Island or Corpus Christi, your best bet is to talk to an agent.

Some private companies offer flood insurance that is not regulated by the NFIP so talk to an agent to get more information if you have trouble obtaining coverage from the NFIP program.

Life Insurance:

People always believe life insurance is going to be more expensive than it is and are often surprised when I provide a quote.  If you are in good health and a non-smoker a policy that expires after a set number of years called a “term” policy will be inexpensive.  My husband is 39 and is in good health is slightly overweight for his height and he pays $40 a month for a $500,000 policy.  I am a little younger than my husband and also in good health and at a healthy weight and I pay $50 a month for $1,000,000 in coverage.  Yes…$1 million in coverage.  If you have any debt you want to have paid when you die, including final death, expenses, or you have family that depends on you or your income, then life insurance is the way to go.  An individual can purchase coverage anywhere for $10,000 to $10,000,000 and up.

If you want a policy that never expires meaning as long as you pay the premiums it will cover you your WHOLE life this is called a Whole Life policy or a Universal Life policy.  These policies are slightly more expensive but also very affordable, especially if you buy it when you are younger and in good health.  Most life insurance policies will come with a medical exam that requires you to provide the basic information like height and weight, a medical history, your driving history, blood pressure and will often take blood and a urine sample to test for any latent or undiagnosed disease.

 

There are so many other types of policies I didn’t address here like health insurance, commercial liability or umbrella coverage as well as boat, motorcycle etc.  Whenever choosing a policy, knowledge is going to be key, take your time to review what is given to you, ask questions and then get a 2nd opinion and then do your own research.  I always enjoy taking the time to educate my clients that have more than just one or two passing questions.  Most agents would rather you make an informed decision, so that in the time of a claim, you are not caught off guard, so don’t feel like you are being difficult if you have questions.

Author: Devon Neely

Devon has been licensed since 2007 and has written lots of insurance policies for her clients at her current agency and has navigated clients through a variety of large claim events including Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Harvey.