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Texas Homeowners Insurance Houston Rates Are Nation’s Highest

By Mike Heuer

Texas homeowners paid an average $1,560 in annual homeowners insurance costs during 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. That figure is the highest in the nation and well above the national average of $909.

Adding to the problem for Texas homeowners are the wide variety of perils faced in the Lone Star State. From Gulf Coast hurricanes and storms to drought, wildfires, hailstorms and tornado activity across the second-largest state in the Union, Texas homeowners face a great deal of possible perils that could damage or destroy homes.

“Adverse weather creates losses, and losses drive the price of insurance,” Rick Gentry of the Insurance Council of Texas recently told the Dallas News. “Texas is a great place to live, but we also have to put up with hailstorms, tornadoes and very high winds and, sometimes, hurricanes.”

While hurricanes typically draw the largest headlines when the strike, hailstorms actually inflict the most damage on homes and other properties in Texas, according to the Texas Dept. of Insurance. But steps can be taken to mitigate the damages and help lower Texas homeowners insurance rates. Tarant County suffers the most hailstorms and hailstorm damages, and keeping roofs reinforces, windows protected with shutters and parking vehicles in garages and under sturdy cover can minimize damages while reducing insurance costs.

Until recent years, rates for homeowners insurance Houston, Dallas and other Texas communities paid had not risen as rapidly as in other parts of the nation. So rates have been climbing fast in recent years to make up the deficit, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

The most used Texas homeowners insurance policy is the HO-3 form, which provides coverage against many named perils and can be enhanced with endorsements. And State Farm Insurance has more Texas homes insured through the firm than any other insurance company. But State Farm has been boosting its rates despite legal opposition.

A two-judge panel recently affirmed rate increases by State Farm Lloyds, which increased homeowners rates across the Lone Star State by an average 20 percent. The Texas Office of Public Insurance Counsel, which claimed the rate hikes were excessive. But the judges issued a written ruling in which the determined the rate increases were not excessive as defined by Texas law and would not be rolled back.

That means about 1.2 million Texas homes insured through State Farm will pay an average $1,579 per year to insure their homes, which is $19 more than the average rate paid by others in the state with the highest average annual homeowners insurance costs in the United States.

While Texas homeowners rates are the highest in the nation, it is possible to find better deals and reduce costs. Installing security systems, smoke alarms in every room and taking steps to mitigate potential damages from various perils can result in rate discounts. Installing sprinkler systems, upgrading plumbing and electrical wiring in older homes and upgrading heating and cooling systems can result in more efficient energy use as well as homeowners insurance rate discounts.