Driving Destinations in Texas

Driving Destinations in Texas – Austin and Dallas

Austin

Canyon Lake – Due to its location on its namesake lake and the Guadalupe River, the town of Canyon Lake proclaims to be the “Water Recreation Capital of Texas” and offers visitors numerous water and outdoor recreational opportunities as well as quick access to a number of Hill Country attractions, towns and cities. Don’t forget your car insurance!

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Enchanted Rock – Located just north of Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country,Enchanted Rock is one of the largest natural rock formations in the United States, with a dome that rises 425 feet above the ground (1825 feet above sea level). Designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1970, Enchanted Rock is also part of the Texas State Parks System and attracts thousands of visitors annually.

Lost Maples – New Englanders aren’t the only that get to enjoy watching the fall foliage change, Lost Maples Natural Area in Central Texas offers Texans and visitors to Texas a breathtaking palette of colors every fall.

Luckenbach – Made famous by a Willie Nelson tune, the tiny Hill Country town of Luckenbach continues to symbolize all that is Texas to many.

On your next trip to the Lone Star State, don’t miss your opportunity to go to the town where “Everybody’s Somebody.”

Wimberley – Wimberley is a quaint little village in the Texas Hill Country, situated within an hour’s drive to either Austin or San Antonio. Additionally, Wimberley is conveniently located to many Hill Country attractions and is home to a host of specialty shops and restaurants.

Dallas

Big Thicket – Covering nearly 100,000 acres, Big Thicket National Preserve was the first such preserve in the United States. The Big Thicket NP is home to a diverse group of plants and animals and plays host to thousands of nature enthusiasts annually. While camping is allowed, there are no prepared campsites in the Big Thicket, so be prepared to make your own.

Lake Fork – Known as one of the top trophy bass lakes in the nation, Lake Fork draws anglers from across the US and beyond.

Each of these anglers knows that anytime they are fishing Fork, they stand a good chance of catching a true trophy largemouth.

Lake Lewisville – A favorite spot for Dallas watersport enthusiasts, Lake Lewisville offers visitors a variety of activities, including fishing, swimming, water skiing, jet skiing, sailing, sailboarding, and more.

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Car Insurance Texas Rates Increase

Car Insurance Texas Rates Increase

Are higher car insurance rates coming? Ask the residents of Georgia, where Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance has just raised some auto premiums by 58 percent.

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The Good Hands People have claimed that’s an extreme case, but it doesn’t deny that nearly half its Georgia customers will pay an average of 25 percent more to drive their cars, a rate hike that left the state’s insurance commissioner, Ralph Hudgens, so frustrated that he launched an investigation by an independent actuarial firm.

But since Georgia is a “file and use” state, this means all an automotive insurer has to do is file the rate hike with the state’s insurance department, and it goes into effect, in this case on May 22.

Georgia’s situation is far from unique, and it may be the “canary in the coal mine” as far as auto insurance rate hikes are concerned. April saw the biggest premium increase year-over-year since 2003, as prices rose 6 percent that month, according to Consumer Price Index monthly data.

Allstate spokesman Adam Polak said his company was “cooperating with the Georgia investigation” and said that only a few customers faced a 58 percent hike.

But he also indicated that Allstate’s rate hikes clearly reflect what’s coming down the turnpike for drivers in other states. Industry spokespeople aren’t shy about saying car insurance is likely to go up, up, up. And while Georgia may be the first state to feel the pain in the pocketbook, it won’t be the last.

Among the reasons: “More people are driving, lower gas prices and higher speed limits,” explained Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute (III), a lobbying group for the property-casualty insurance industry.

And, he might have added, more fatalities. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 38,300 people were killed nationwide on roads last year and 4.4 million were seriously injured. “2015 was likely the deadliest driving year since 2008,” said the NSC, a nonprofit organization that promotes health and safety in the U.S.

Another factor is that auto insurers’ profitability has been falling for a decade. Loss ratios for insurers have been rising for 10 years, according to the III’s Hartwig. In flush times when interest rates are high, insurers can make this up from their vast investment portfolios. But the 2015 return on their net worth is likely close to zero — or even negative.

Common Texas Car Insurance Questions

Common Texas Car Insurance Questions

• The color of your car helps determine the premium you pay.

False. However, the type of vehicle does. The Insurance Information Institute lists a vehicle’s make, model, engine size, age and current value among the factors that help determine premiums. Other factors include a vehicle’s cost to repair and likelihood of theft and, obviously, a motorist’s age and driving record.

Small cars aren’t necessarily the cheapest to insure, even though they tend to cost less. Premiums can be just as high or higher due to the possibility for worse injuries. Still, 40% of respondents in a survey by insure.com assumed premiums were lowest on small vehicles.

A general metaphor for car insurance, finance, sale, debt, expenses and costs.
A general metaphor for car insurance, finance, sale, debt, expenses and costs.

• Insurers don’t examine credit records to assess applicants.

That’s generally false. “Credit scoring is highly predictive of future loss activity,” said Fiske. “It’s actuarially sound and part of practically every insurance company’s methodology.”

The idea behind using credit scores to assess the risks posed by individuals reflects their responsibility, or lack thereof, in managing financial affairs. An insurer might deny coverage to applicants with low credit scores, but it also could reward others with reduced premiums.

Not all insurance companies evaluate credit the same. Some use proprietary models, and many  look to cover certain types of drivers or homeowners. “Some may target only those with the best scores, with no recent accidents or traffic violations, while others may seek out people with a less-than-perfect record,” said the Insurance Information Institute.

Credit scoring isn’t allowed for all policies in all states, including California.

• Self-driving autos will lead to lower auto-insurance premiums.

It might happen. Self-driving vehicles have proved highly reliable, especially when compared against human motorists who text, tailgate and speed.

However, real-world insurance-loss results aren’t in yet, so the question is still up in the air. “Even if (driver-less cars) were introduced  tomorrow, it will take 20-plus years” to have actuarially sound information,  Fiske said.

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Compare Auto Insurance Quotes Texas

Click here to compare auto insurance quotes in Texas between multiple companies.

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Though the Insurance Information Institute (III) likes to point out that the annual cost of auto insurance has been nearly flat in recent years — rising from $798 in 2011 to $815 in 2012, according to a December 2014 report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners — the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the cost of insurance eats up 2% of the income in low-earning households. With “low-income” defined as households making less than $20,000 annually, that’s somewhat of a surprise, considering the average low-risk driver with a clean driving record for a policy with a $500 deductible for collision and a $100 deductible for comprehensive coverage pays $1,023 annually, according to AAA.

“In the decade prior to the release of the 2012 report, the typical U.S. driver’s auto insurance expenditures increased by 10% while their housing expenditures rose 29%, food costs grew by 21%, and out-of-pocket health care spending went up by 52%,” said Dr. Robert Hartwig, economist and president of the III. “All drivers—low-income and otherwise—benefit from a robust insurance marketplace where they can shop for the best policy at a competitive price, irrespective of how they pay for that vehicle.”

No, auto insurance isn’t as costly as other expenses, but it isn’t exactly pocket change, either. It also gets significantly costlier even if you commit comparatively minor infrations. Laura Adams, senior analyst for insurance information and pricing site insuranceQuotes.com, notes that not signaling, failure to yield, not stopping for pedestrians, failure to stop at a signal, following too close, improper passing and speeding 1 to 15 miles per hour over the speed limit can all increase your auto insurance premiums by an average of roughly 20% — according to an insuranceQuotes.com study.

Unless you’ve failed to wear your seat belt — an offense that merits only a 5.76% rate increase, on average — you’re going to incur a significant penalty any time a police officer decides to send you off with something other than a warning. A single driver who drives in a carpool lane, for example, will see his rates soar more than 18% for that infraction. For comparison, that’s a penalty similar to the 18.6% spike drivers see when they avoid a railroad signal. While there are ways to mitigate the damage, they require some time and money on your part.

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How to Protect and Insure your Texas Car

Severe storms bring a myriad of damaging impacts, and hail can be one of the costliest.

A recent hailstorm in San Antonio, Texas, proved to be the costliest in the city’s history. More than $1 billion in damage was reported, the Insurance Council of Texas reported. Hail as large as baseballs pelted over a hundred thousand cars, racking up damage claims.

Cars out in the elements are one of the most susceptible pieces of property, and for some, their most valuable.

“Look at what people are paying for cars these days,” Darren Huggins, National Collision director said. “If they don’t own a home, it’s the single biggest investment they’ve made. And they want to protect it.”

Following severe storms that struck Texas and the southern Plains in mid-April, social media was littered with images of mattresses, blankets, bubble wrap and other makeshift materials fastened onto all kinds of vehicles with the intention to prevent any severe hail damage.

Layers of blankets were enough to protect the sunroof of this car during a recent severe storm in San Antonio, Texas. (Instagram photo/josieorizaga)

While the unique methods of protection may have been inventive, there’s no telling how effective a blanket can really be against a powerful storm, experts say.

The top surfaces of the car such as the hood and roof are the most vulnerable in terms of potential hail damage, Huggins said. Most modern cars use tempered glass for the windshield, and “it’s going to take pretty severe hail to penetrate that,” he said.

Damage to the body of a car can also be the most expensive to fix.

Sam Sarkisian, president of the Autobody Association, said repairs can run anywhere between $1,500 to $5,000, depending on the damage.

If hail hits the car but does not fracture the paint, the repair cost will be much lower, Huggins said. Technicians can work from under the panel to massage out the dent rather than needing to do any replacement work.

Taillights can also be a costly fix, he said.

A car owner in Texas used blankets to protect his already hail-damaged vehicle during a severe storm. (Instagram photo/thewhaley)

State Farm spokesperson Dave Phillips said the average hail claim in 2015 ran just under $3,500. Texas had the highest number of hail claims in the U.S. with more than 23,000.

For those wanting to get creative, Huggins said anything that could cushion the blow from hail is worth trying.

“Try using a tarp, blankets, even a sleeping bag might do the trick,” he said. “But it’s most important to protect yourself first.”

Huggins urged car owners not to go outside during severe storms. If already driving, seek a covered area to wait out the storm.

The windshield of this car belonging to an employee of the Mississippi State Hospital in Whitfield, Mississippi, awaits towing Thursday, March 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

 

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