Houston, Texas Car Insurance 101 [Coverage + Rates]
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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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|Population Density||3,991 people per square mile|
|Average Annual Cost of Insurance||$7,136.56|
|Cheapest Car Insurance Companies||USAA and State Farm|
|Road Conditions||Poor share: 24%
Mediocre share: 28%
Fair share: 11%
Good share: 38%
Vehicle Operating Costs: $610
Houston is the most populous city in Texas. If you choose to live in The Space City, you’ll be driving on streets next to tens of thousands of other drivers. If the thought of increased traffic and increased crash risks makes you uncomfortable, you’ve probably given serious thought to the perfect car insurance provider.
Having the right insurer makes sure you’re well protected if one of the many other drivers on Houston’s roads runs into you. However, it can be hard to pick the right insurer, let alone learn a city’s unique driving laws.
If you are looking for answers to questions about car insurance and driving in Houston, we’ve got you covered.
Our comprehensive guide to Houston covers everything you need to know about driving (as well as living) in the city. Let’s begin.
Want to start comparison shopping for rates today? Try out our free rate comparison tool above by entering your zip code.
The Cost of Car Insurance in Houston
Getting the best rate can sometimes feel like winning a lottery. At the very least, you’ll have the satisfaction of having less money taken from your bank account each month.
Knowing how to pick the best rate, though, is harder than it looks. There are multiple factors that go into determining rates, and unless you are an insurance agent, you probably don’t know the specifics behind rate changes.
If you want to learn why and how much insurers change rates for a variety of factors, keep reading to learn about everything from demographics to zip codes. All of the following rate information is from our partnership with Quadrant, providing you with the best data on Houston’s rates.
– Male vs Female vs Age
Your age and gender are important to insurers. For example, age is directly related to a driver’s driving experience. A teenager will be paying more for car insurance than a middle-aged driver.
Data USA lists the median age in Houston as 33.1, so most drivers will be charged rates for 35-year-old drivers.
So what are the rates for 35-year-old drivers? If you take a look at the table below, you’ll see that they have the second-cheapest rates in Texas.
|Houston Rates by Age||17||25||35||60||Cheapest Age|
|Average Annual Rate||$9,393.23||$3,794.62||$3,018.83||$2,876.24||60|
As you can see, drivers pay less as they age. Now that we’ve taken a look at age, let’s see what the different genders pay for car insurance in Texas.
- Male Drivers: $4,770
- Female Drivers: $4,500
So why do males pay more than females in Texas? This is typical in most states, and its because insurers believe that males are riskier drivers. However, the rate difference between genders usually levels out as male drivers become older.
|Married 60-year old female||$2,791.00|
|Married 60-year old male||$2,961.47|
|Married 35-year old female||$2,969.61|
|Married 35-year old male||$3,068.06|
|Single 25-year old female||$3,683.32|
|Single 25-year old male||$3,905.93|
|Single 17-year old female||$8,559.72|
|Single 17-year old male||$10,226.74|
As you can see, 35-year-old males only pay an average of $100 more than 35-year-old females. However, 17-year-old males pay almost $2,000 more than 17-year-old females.
So not only do rates drop as driver age, but the gender price difference drops as well.
Cheapest ZIP Codes in Houston
Where you live in Houston also influences your rates. Insurers look at the crime, crash, and weather data in your area to determine how risky it is to cover your car.
|Houston Zip||Average Annual Rate|
There is less than a $2,000 difference between the most and least expensive ZIP codes, which isn’t terrible. Still, you can see how a move around the city can add to your car insurance prices.
What’s the best car insurance company in Houston?
It can be hard to pick a company. While looking at the offered coverages and benefits is a great way to make sure a company will fully cover you, how much will you be paying for a policy?
Finding a cheaper provider will help lessen the strain on your wallet, but it can be timeconsuming to apply for free quotes and compare them.
To save you time, we have collected Quadrant data on Houston’s car insurers’ rates. Keep reading to see which provider has the best rates for you.
Cheapest Car Insurance Rates by Company
Let’s start by looking at which Houston companies have the cheapest rates.
|Group||Single 17-year old female||Single 17-year old male||Single 25-year old female||Single 25-year old male||Married 35-year old female||Married 35-year old male||Married 60-year old female||Married 60-year old male||Average|
USAA has the cheapest overall rate, but USAA is only for military families. If you aren’t military, State Farm has the next cheapest overall rate.
However, make sure to also look at what a company is charging for your demographic, as rates vary greatly. A cheap overall rate doesn’t mean cheap demographic rates.
Best Car Insurance for Commute Rates
In Texas, the average driver travels 15,533 miles a year. That’s a lot of driving across Texas’s flat roads, and it also means that most drivers are paying for a long commute at insurers.
|Group||10 Miles Commute. 6,000 Annual Mileage.||25 Miles Commute. 12,000 Annual Mileage.|
Just because an insurer doesn’t charge for a long commute doesn’t mean its rate is economical. Geico charges for a long commute, but its resulting rate is still cheaper than other companies who don’t charge for a long commute.
Best Car Insurance for Coverage Level Rates
Let’s see which companies have the best rates for high coverage (which we highly recommend, as high coverage protects the best in accidents).
USAA, State Farm, and Geico have the cheapest rates for high coverage. Remember, look at the final overall rate rather than how much it costs to upgrade.
For example, while Allstate only has about a $400 increase to upgrade from low to high coverage, the final rate is one of the highest.
Best Car Insurance for Credit History Rates
Sometimes, people don’t realize that their credit score has a huge impact on their rates.
At companies like American Family, going from good to poor credit will cost drivers an additional $4,000. Even at cheaper companies like USAA and State Farm, the drop from good to poor credit raises rates at least $2,000.
Still, $2,000 is better than $4,000, so make sure to shop around at providers if you have a poor or fair credit score.
Best Car Insurance for Driving Record Rates
The last factor we want to cover is a driver’s history. If insurers see a DUI, accident, or speeding ticket on a driver’s record, they will raise rates.
|Group||Clean record||With 1 accident||With 1 DUI||With 1 speeding violation|
Sometimes insurers will offer accident forgiveness, where drivers are forgiven their first at-fault accident at a provider (rates aren’t raised). This is why the rate doesn’t change from a clean record to an accident violation at Nationwide.
Accident forgiveness can save thousands, so make sure to ask your provider if you are eligible.
Car Insurance Factors in Houston
Insurers depend on more than just a driver’s history to determine rates. The economic situation of a city is also important. For instance, insurers consider how much the average customer earns, the economic stability of an area, and more.
So keep reading to see what Houston’s economic status is.
Metro Report – Prosperity and Growth
Brookings’ metro report analyzes the economic stability of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. Let’s start by looking at Brookings’ rating of Houston’s prosperity from 2016 to 2017 (prosperity measures how much wealth/income a city generates).
- Prosperity: 95 out of 100 (poor)
- Productivity: -0.4 percent (86 out of 100)
- Standard of Living: -0.9 percent (96 out of 100)
- Average Annual Wage: -0.4 percent (98 out of 100)
Houston ranked poorly in prosperity. The amounts of productivity, standard of living, and average annual wage all declined from 2016 to 2017. This resulted in Houston ranking near the bottom of the 100 cities.
Let’s take a look at Houston’s growth and see if it ranked any better than its prosperity.
- Growth: 85 out of 100 (poor)
- Jobs: +0.9 percent (71 out of 100)
- Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP): +0.4 percent (91 out of 100)
- Jobs at Young Firms: +0.8 percent (76 out of 100)
Houston’s growth is slightly better than its prosperity. Hopefully, the small increase in jobs and GMP (“value of goods and services” from an area) will help Houston’s prosperity increase.
Median Household Income
We know Houston’s prosperity could be better, but how much is the average Houston resident earning?
According to Data USA, the 2017 average income in Houston was $50,896.
This about $10,000 less than the U.S. average income ($60,336) and $9,000 less than the Texas average income ($59,206). Since the average cost of car insurance in Houston is $7,136, this means that 14 percent of Houston residents’ income is spent on car insurance.
This is relatively high, though shopping around can help lower that percentage.
What is your percentage? If you want to see how much of your income goes to car insurance, use our free calculator below.
Homeownership in Houston
We know that the standard of living went down in Houston in 2017, so we want to take a look at home ownership in Houston.
Owning a home can help lower your insurance rates, as insurers often offer home and auto bundling discounts.
So how many Houston residents are getting a bundling discount? Data USA found that in 2017, there was only 42.8 percent homeownership in Houston.
This is fairly low, as the Texas average percent of homeownership is 62 percent. However, the average cost of a home in Houston is high.
The median value of a home in Houston is $173,600, which is higher than the Texas median value ($151,500).
So not only do Houston residents earn less than Texas and U.S. averages, but they also have to pay more on average for their homes. No wonder the rate of homeownership is lower.
Education in Houston
If you want to get a higher education in Houston, the city offers the following options:
|University||Sector||2016 Degrees Awarded|
|University of Houston||Public, 4-year or above||9,524|
|Houston Community College||Public, 2-year||8,129|
|University of Houston-Downtown||Public, 4-year or above||2,882|
|Rice University||Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above||2,260|
|Texas Southern University||Public, 4-year or above||1,562|
|The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston||Public, 4-year or above||1,498|
|University of Phoenix-Texas||Private for-profit, 4-year or above||1,114|
|University of St Thomas (227863)||Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above||1,042|
|Universal Technical Institute of Texas Inc.||Private for-profit, 2-year||902|
|Houston Baptist University||Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above||725|
|Pima Medical Institute-Houston||Private for-profit, 2-year||702|
|College of Health Care Professions-Northwest||Private for-profit, 4-year or above||496|
|Tulsa Welding School-Houston||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||444|
|Everest Institute-Bissonnet||Private not-for-profit, less-than 2-year||439|
|Everest Institute-Hobby||Private not-for-profit, less-than 2-year||343|
|Baylor College of Medicine||Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above||342|
|South Texas College of Law Houston||Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above||338|
|The Art Institute of Houston||Private for-profit, 4-year or above||317|
|Ocean Corporation||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||296|
|Everest Institute-Greenspoint||Private not-for-profit, less-than 2-year||327|
|Sanford-Brown College-Houston||Private for-profit, 2-year||272|
|Remington College-North Houston Campus||Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above||248|
|Brightwood College-Houston||Private for-profit, 2-year||245|
|Fortis Institute-Houston||Private for-profit, 2-year||231|
|The College of Health Care Professions-Southwest Houston||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||210|
|Texas Barber College||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||188|
|Center for Advanced Legal Studies||Private for-profit, 2-year||181|
|American InterContinental University-Houston||Private for-profit, 4-year or above||181|
|Florida Career College-Houston Campus||Private for-profit, 2-year||181|
|Fortis College-Houston||Private for-profit, 2-year||168|
|Brightwood College-Friendswood||Private for-profit, 2-year||166|
|Utah College of Massage Therapy-Houston||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||166|
|Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service||Private not-for-profit, 2-year||157|
|School of Automotive Machinists & Technology||Private for-profit, 2-year||157|
|Culinary Institute Inc||Private for-profit, 2-year||145|
|The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center||Public, 4-year or above||144|
|Northwest Educational Center||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||138|
|Paul Mitchell the School-Houston||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||134|
|Vet Tech Institute of Houston||Private for-profit, 2-year||132|
|Texas Health School||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||118|
|Sebring Career Schools-Houston||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||116|
|Chamberlain College of Nursing-Texas||Private for-profit, 4-year or above||111|
|Aviation Institute of Maintenance-Houston||Private for-profit, 2-year||94|
|Astrodome Career Centers||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||93|
|College of Biblical Studies-Houston||Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above||90|
|Remington College-Houston Campus||Private not-for-profit, 2-year||86|
|Houston Training School-Gulfgate||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||66|
|Professional Career Training Institute||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||57|
|Trend Barber College (450711)||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||49|
|Houston Training Schools-Southwest||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||39|
|MediaTech Institute-Houston||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||39|
|Houston Graduate School of Theology||Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above||37|
|Houston Training Schools-Gessner||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||30|
|Jay's Technical Institute||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||30|
|Trend Barber College||Private for-profit, less-than 2-year||29|
|National American University-Houston||Private for-profit, 4-year or above||26|
|American College of Acupuncture and Oriental Med||Private for-profit, 4-year or above||23|
|Houston International College Cardiotech Ultrasound School||Private for-profit, 2-year||13|
|The Vocational Nursing Institute Inc||Private not-for-profit, less-than 2-year||7|
|Interactive College of Technology||Private for-profit, 2-year||5|
|Interactive College of Technology (443696)||Private for-profit, 2-year||3|
As you can see, Houston has numerous education options. There are a number of large universities, such as the University of Houston, as well as specialized schools like the Vet Tech Institute of Houston.
Houston also has a community college, Houston Community College, that offers one to two-year accreditations and transfer programs. If you are looking to save money on your education, Houston Community College is a great option.
Houston Community College also offers online courses, if you are too busy to attend in-person classes.
Wage by Race and Ethnicity in Common Jobs
We covered the average income already, but we want to dig deeper into incomes in Houston. Below is Data USA’s information on wages by race or ethnicity in Texas for miscellaneous managers. We’ve also included the amount of income going to car insurance.
|Race or Ethnicity||Annual|
|Percentage of Income Spent on Car Insurance|
|Two or More Races||$86,431||8.25%|
American Indians are the highest-paid race or ethnicity in Texas, which means only an average of 6 percent of their income goes to car insurance.
One the other hand, other races or ethnicities are the lowest-paid, which results in 11 percent of their income being spent.
Wage by Gender in Common Jobs
Because of the gender wage gap, we want to take a look at salaries by gender in Texas. Below is Data USA’s information on gender salaries in common job types.
|Job Field||Male Salary||Male Premiums as Percentage of Income||Female Salary||Female Premiums as Percentage of Income|
|Elementary and Middle School Teachers||$51,283||13.91%||$47,261||15.10%|
|Driver/Sales Workers and Truck Drivers||$48,944||14.58%||$35,749||19.96%|
As you can see, females consistently earn less than males, resulting in a larger percentage of their income being spent on car insurance.
In fact, while the average male employee in Texas earns $65,834, the average female employee only earns $47,183. That’s a significant difference and reinforces that the wage gap between genders still exists today.
Poverty by Age and Gender
With such a marked difference in pay between genders, it makes sense that once females become adults, there is more of a risk of falling into poverty.
In fact, the largest demographic living in poverty in Houston is females ages 25 to 34.
Let’s take a look at the rest of Data USA’s information on poverty by gender and age in Houston.
|Houston Percentage of Males and Females Living in Poverty by Age||Male||Female|
|6 - 11 years||6.8%||6.57%|
|12 - 14 years||3.16%||2.85%|
|16 - 17 years||1.66%||1.74%|
|18 - 24 years||4.54%||6.61%|
|25 - 34 years||6%||9.01%|
|35 - 44 years||4.82%||7.42%|
|45 - 54 years||3.76%||4.68%|
|55 - 64 years||3.32%||3.75%|
As you can see, as the ages go up, the number of females living in poverty also goes up.
In Houston, 21.2 percent of those living in poverty live below the poverty line.
This is a higher percentage than the national average of 13.4 percent, so a significant number of Houston residents are living in severe poverty.
Poverty by Race and Ethnicity
Let’s dig deeper into poverty by looking at Data USA’s data on poverty by race and ethnicity.
|Race or Ethnicity||Number of People Living in Poverty (2017)|
|Two or More||9,053|
Hispanics have the highest number of people living in poverty, followed by whites and Blacks.
Employment by Occupations
Let’s take a break from poverty statistics and see what occupations are the most common in Houston.
- Office and Administrative Support Occupations (120,629 people)
- Sales and Related Occupations (109,920 people)
- Management Occupations (104,408 people)
The bad news is that the employment rate from 2016 to 2017 declined -1.48 percent. Employment dropped from 1,120,000 employees to 1,110,000 employees.
Hopefully, Houston’s economy will take a turn for the better and produce more jobs, which will help reduce poverty.
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Driving in Houston
As the most populated city in Texas, Houston’s streets are heavily congested. This means that you’ll have to learn the best routes to get to work on time, but it can be confusing if you are new to the city.
To help you find the best routes through Houston, we are going to cover everything from major highways to traffic conditions.
So keep reading to learn about Houston’s road conditions to prepare both yourself and your vehicle.
Roads in Houston
The first aspect of driving in the city that we want to go over is Houston’s roads. If a city doesn’t have clearly organized routes and well-maintained roads, driving can be a nightmare.
So let’s jump right into Houston’s roads, from highways to cameras at intersections.
Texas has multiple major highways linking the state’s cities together. It’s 25 active routes contributes 3,501 miles to the state’s miles of roadway, which is an impressive amount.
Three of these major routes run right through Houston: I-10, I-45, and I-69.
You may have noticed the word toll next to I-10. Unfortunately, if you travel in I-10 you will be right on the toll road.
There will also be tolls on the other major highways in Texas, so be prepared to pay to travel out of Houston. The bad news is that three of the toll roads in Houston are among the most expensive toll roads in the U.S.
- State Highway 242 connector ramp
- Fort Bend Parkway
- State Highway 249 connector ramp
If you want to reduce the high tolls you’ll pay on these routes, consider getting a TxTag. With a TxTag, you’ll pay the cheapest rate at a toll (up to 50 percent less).
The device also allows you to go through cash-free toll booths, where a radar scans your TxTag and lets you through. It saves time on digging through the cupholder in your car for change and trying to get the correct amount as you wait in line.
You do have to pay an initial fee to buy the device, but it should pay itself off after a few trips on the highway, as you’ll be paying the lowest toll. The tolls will be billed to your TxTag account, making it easy to pay off each month.
So if you are going to be traveling on Houston’s major routes, make sure to check out devices like the TxTag to save money in the long run.
Popular Road Trips and Sites
Houston has plenty to do. If you need a few ideas, though, check out the list below of fun Houston activities.
- Christmas Zoo Lights: The Houston zoo puts on a spectacular lights display every year.
- Shark Voyage: If you pay a visit to the Houston aquarium, you can take an underwater train ride through the aquarium.
- Waterparks: Houston is hot. If you need somewhere to cool down during the summer, Houston has a variety of waterparks to visit.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. If you find yourself wanting to get out of the city though, there are a number of popular road trips to take around Texas.
- Abandoned Place Road Trip: If you like to feel shivers up your spine, these abandoned places will be sure to creep you out.
- Christmas Lights Road Trip: One of Houston’s neighborhoods is on this impressive list.
- Haunted Road Trip: Another road trip guaranteed to creep you out, this road trip will take you to the most haunted places in Texas.
- Lighthouse Road Trip: Want to spend some time traveling oceanside? This trip takes you the best lighthouses in Texas.
Hopefully, you’ve now got a few ideas of where to start with your exploration of Houston and Texas.
When you’re driving around Houston to visit the zoo or a waterpark, the last thing you need is for a wayward pothole to ruin your day. According to TRIP, Houston’s roads are in the following conditions:
Only 38 percent of Houston’s roads are in good condition. While we’d like this number to be higher, another 11 percent of the roads are in fair condition.
Still, we’d like to see a larger percentage of roads in good or fair condition.
Does Houston use speeding or red light cameras?
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Texas only allows the use of red-light cameras. However, this will soon come to an end, as Texas recently passed a bill outlawing the use of these cameras.
So even if you see a red light camera at an intersection, it shouldn’t be active.
Still, follow the law and come to a complete stop at a red light (don’t speed up when the light turns yellow, as it often results in drivers dangerously going through a red light).
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Vehicles in Houston
Now that we’ve covered Houston’s roads, we want to see who you’ll be driving next to on the roads. If you want to fit in like a Houston native, keep reading to learn all about Houston’s vehicles.
Most Popular Vehicles Owned
YourMechanic recorded what types of vehicles they serviced in popular U.S. cities. Let’s take a look at what vehicles come into YourMechanic’s Houston shops.
|Car Type||Percentage Serviced by YourMechanic in Houston|
|Muscle Cars with V8 Engines||18.5%|
Houston residents like heavy-duty muscle cars. Over 18 percent of the cars YourMechanic serviced were muscle cars with V8 engines.
Based on this, it isn’t surprising that the most unusually popular car in Houston is a Ford F-250 super duty truck. So if you move to Houston (or really, anywhere in Texas), getting a new truck will make you look like one of the locals.
The Ford F-250 crew cab also got a decent safety rating on NHTSA, although it doesn’t get great gas mileage (as expected with a muscle car).
Still, insurers look at how safe a car is when adjusting rates, so a car with a good safety rating will help prevent your rates from going up.
Cars per Household
Data USA lists the average number of cars owned in Houston as two.
|Number of Cars||Houston Household Percentage|
Over 2 percent of Houston residents own five or more cars, which basically requires one’s own parking lot.
Households Without a Car
In such a large city (with plenty of public transportation), owning your own car isn’t a necessity, although it does allow for more freedom. Let’s see how many households get by without cars in Houston.
The number of households without vehicles actually dropped slightly in 2016, so a number of households bought their first car in that time period.
Speed Traps in Houston
- Parker Road and Exeter
- Moorwick and Wickchester
- Wescott southbound approaching Memorial Drive
- Mykawa between Airport and Belfort
- Silverstone and Airport Blvd
You won’t always find a speed trap in these areas, but there’s a good chance there’s a cop hiding with a radar gun on one of the above areas.
The best way to avoid a ticket, of course, is to not speed. Especially because Houston is notorious for its number of speed traps.
– Vehicle Theft in Houston
The FBI recorded 11,596 stolen vehicles in Houston during 2017. This makes Houston the worst city for vehicle theft in Texas, as the only city that comes even close to beating Houston’s number is Dallas, with 7,913 stolen vehicles.
Of course, we also need to take into consideration that Houston is the most populated city in Texas, which means there are more cars to steal and more people to steal them.
So what is the safest neighborhood to keep your car in?
Neighborhood Scout found that the safest neighborhood in Houston is Dogwood Acres / Walden Woods.
The other safest neighborhoods in Houston are:
- Westheimer Parkway / S Ferry Rd
- Sandtown Circle / Sandtown Lane
- Clodine Reddick Rd / Beechnut Blvd
- Porter Heights
- River Terrace
- Echo Mountain Dr / Mills Branch Dr
- Telge Rd / Northwest Freeway
While living in one of these neighborhoods won’t guarantee your car’s safety, it will help lower your chances of your car being stolen. It will also help lower your chance of being the victim of a violent crime.
In Houston, you have a one in 89 chance of being the victim of a violent crime. In comparison, you only have a one in 228 chance in Texas.
Houston’s chance isn’t great. In fact, the city only has a crime index rating of four. This means Houston is safer than only four percent of all U.S. cities.
So what crimes are happening in Houston? Let’s see how many violent crimes occurred in 2017.
|Houston Violent Crimes||Murder||Rape||Robbery||Assault|
|Rate per 1,000||0.12||0.60||4.26||6.20|
There were almost 10,000 cases of robbery in 2017, many of which probably included stolen vehicles. Finally, let’s look at Houston’s annual crimes to see what crimes are happening beyond violent crimes.
|Houston Annual Crimes||Violent||Property||Total Crimes|
|Number of Crimes||25,843||98,197||124,040|
|Crime Rate |
(per 1,000 residents)
The rate of total crimes per 1,000 residents is over 50. With a crime rate this high, it makes sense to move into one of Houston’s safer neighborhoods.
Nobody likes sitting in traffic, but you’re bound to have to deal with it in Houston. However, we are here to help guide you through Houston’s traffic, so that you are prepared beforehand.
So stick with us as we go through traffic conditions, from congestion to road dangers to watch out for.
Traffic Congestion in Houston
Inrix, a major traffic scorecard, has Houston down as one of the 200+ worst cities in the U.S. for traffic. Let’s take a look at Houston’s ranking.
|2018 Impact Rank (2017)||Hours Lost in Congestion||Year Over Year Change||Cost of Congestion (Per Driver)||Inner City Travel Time (Minutes)||Inner City Last Mile Speed (mph)|
While Houston ranked as 82 in 2017, it bumped up to 77 in 2018. Since traffic increased six percent, the change in rank isn’t surprising.
In addition, Houston drivers waste an average of $1,365 just sitting in congestion. That’s quite a few tanks of gas that could have gotten you somewhere more exciting than sitting in a line of cars.
Let’s dig deeper into traffic congestion by looking at commute time and commuter transportation.
Data USA found that the average commute time in Houston is 26.5 minutes (or 53 minutes a day).
This is only slightly more than the U.S. average commute time of 25.5 minutes, so Houston’s average commute time isn’t too bad, considering the high amounts of traffic in the area.
Now that we know the commute time, what are people using to commute?
- Driving Alone: 77 percent
- Carpooling: 10.4 percent
- Working at Home: 4.36 percent
A surprising amount of Houston residents work from home, as it is the third most popular transportation option. Although in reality, working at home doesn’t require any transportation at all, and there is zero commute time (unless you count the time it takes to walk from a bed to an office).
The remaining percentage of transportation methods include walking, bicycling, using public transport, riding a motorcycle, or using a taxi.
The Federal Highway Administration listed the busiest Houston highways as:
- Route 6
All of these highways have 12 total lanes, which means each direction has six lanes. Even with the added lanes, these highways are going to have heavy amounts of traffic.
So which areas of these highways are the worst? According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, some of the most congested stretches of Houston’s highways are:
- 610 Loop (from I-10 to I-69): 1.6 million hours wasted in traffic per mile
- Southwest Freeway (from 610 Loop to Highway 288: 1.3 million hours wasted in traffic per mile
That’s a lot of time wasted in traffic. If your route takes you through some of Houston’s most congested areas, try leaving a little earlier to beat traffic.
How safe are Houston’s streets and roads?
We aren’t talking about how safe you’ll be walking down the street at night, but how safe you’ll be driving on Houston’s roads. Some cities have more crashes and fatalities, depending on what type of laws and enforcement are in place.
To start, let’s look at the NHTSA’s data on fatalities for all crashes in Houston’s county.
The number of fatalities in Houston increased in 2017, before dropping in 2018. What’s responsible for these increases and decreases?
Let’s take a look at NHTSA’s data on crash types to find out.
|Houston Fatalities by Crash Type||2014||2015||2016||2017||2018
|Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver (BAC = .08+)||210||170||211||202||171|
|Single Vehicle Crash||216||220||263||243||205|
|Involving a Roadway Departure||177||166||175||174||138|
|Involving an Intersection (or Intersection-Related)||103||89||102||116||116|
In 2018, the major causes of crashes were single-vehicle crashes, DUI crashes, and roadway departures. Now that we know the types of crashes behind Houston’s fatality rates, let’s take a look at the type of people killed in these crashes.
|Houston Person-Type Fatalities||2014||2015||2016||2017||2018
|Passenger Car Occupant||146||124||147||149||134|
Houston has quite a few pedestrian deaths on its record, with the number slowly increasing each year. If you are walking near a roadway, don’t depend on drivers to avoid you. Stay alert and wear bright clothing.
Next, we want to see what types of roads are the most dangerous.
|Interstate (Rural)||Interstate (Urban)||Freeway and Expressway||Other Principal Arterial||Minor Arterial||Collector Arterial||Local||Unknown||Total Fatal Crashes|
Quite a few of Texas’s fatalities occur on minor and collector arterial roads. Why?
An arterial road is a high-traffic road (highways), so a minor arterial road has heavy traffic on a daily basis, creating riskier conditions. After all, you aren’t in control of the drivers around you.
As for a collector arterial road, this is a road that takes local traffic to an arterial or minor arterial road. These roads are riskier because drivers need to use these roads to merge into heavy traffic.
Other risky roads are roads that intersect with a railroad. According to the US Department of Transportation (US DOT), the following areas have the most crashes in Houston.
|Highway User Speed||Calendar Year||County||Highway||Highway User Type||Rail Equipment Type||Non-Suicide Fatality||Non-Suicide Injury|
|0||2012||HARRIS||TIDWELL RD||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2012||HARRIS||CULLEN BLVD||Pick-up truck||Light Loco(s)||0||0|
|5||2012||HARRIS||BOCARD #2||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|5||2012||HARRIS||COLLINGSWORTH STREET||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||1|
|0||2012||HARRIS||HEIGHTS BLVD||Pedestrian||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2012||HARRIS||LAURA KOPPE RD||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2012||HARRIS||RICHEY ROAD||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|5||2012||HARRIS||OIL TRAVLING WEST MA||Truck-trailer||Light Loco(s)||0||0|
|20||2012||HARRIS||HOLMES RD||Pick-up truck||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2012||HARRIS||CAMPBELL ROAD||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2012||HARRIS||RANKIN ROAD||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||2|
|15||2012||HARRIS||MARKET STREET ROAD||Truck-trailer||Light Loco(s)||0||0|
|5||2012||HARRIS||C. E. KING ROAD||Automobile||Special MOW Eq||0||1|
|0||2012||HARRIS||SHERWIN STREET||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2013||HARRIS||SAND CROSSING/DELTA||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2013||HARRIS||PARKER STREET||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2013||HARRIS||PRIVATE CROSSING||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2013||HARRIS||SAWYER STREET||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2013||HARRIS||ASHLAND CHEMICALS||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2013||HARRIS||WEST LITTLE YORK||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2013||HARRIS||SAN JACINTO ST.||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2013||HARRIS||OIL TANKING E MAIN||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|5||2013||HARRIS||CAVALCADE STREET||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|10||2013||HOUSTON||COE DAIRY ROAD||Automobile||Freight Train||0||1|
|0||2013||HARRIS||CAMPBELL RD||Pick-up truck||Freight Train||0||0|
|5||2013||HARRIS||2244 COLLINGSWORTH||Automobile||Freight Train||0||1|
|0||2013||HARRIS||BELLAIRE BLVD.||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|5||2013||HARRIS||CESAR CHAVEZ BLVD||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|33||2014||HARRIS||HILLCROFT ST||Automobile||Freight Train||1||0|
|60||2014||HARRIS||JACINTOPORT CROSSING||Pick-up truck||Freight Train||0||0|
|10||2014||HARRIS||PVT-PT. OF HOUSTON||Automobile||Yard/Switch||0||1|
|10||2014||HARRIS||PVT-PT. OF HOUSTON||Automobile||Yard/Switch||0||1|
|0||2014||HARRIS||W. BELLFORT AVE||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2014||HARRIS||SILVER STREET||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|10||2014||HARRIS||MARKET STREET ROAD||Truck-trailer||Yard/Switch||0||1|
|2||2014||HARRIS||FIELDS ROAD||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2014||HARRIS||HILLCROFT ST||Automobile||Freight Train||0||2|
|0||2014||HARRIS||BELFORT DRIVE||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|2||2014||HARRIS||MISSISSIPPI ST||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2014||HARRIS||RANKIN ROAD||Automobile||Freight Train||0||1|
|26||2014||HARRIS||BLALOCK DRIVE||Automobile||Light Loco(s)||0||0|
|10||2014||HARRIS||CORONATION DRIVE||Automobile||Freight Train||0||1|
|0||2014||HARRIS||HIRSCH ROAD||Pedestrian||Freight Train||0||1|
|0||2014||HARRIS||CAMPBELL ROAD||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|10||2014||HARRIS||GATE 8||Automobile||Light Loco(s)||0||0|
|0||2014||HARRIS||AIRPORT BLVD.||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2014||HARRIS||UP PVT YARD ROAD||Van||Cut of Cars||0||0|
|0||2014||HARRIS||HAVILAND||Pick-up truck||Freight Train||0||0|
|20||2014||HARRIS||HOWARD DRIVE||Pick-up truck||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2014||HARRIS||OREM ROAD||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|20||2014||HARRIS||CANAL STREET||Automobile||Freight Train||0||1|
|5||2014||HARRIS||OIL TANKING WEST MAI||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2014||HARRIS||RANKIN ROAD||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|5||2014||HARRIS||MCFARLAND STREET||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2014||HARRIS||HILLCROFT STREET||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2015||HARRIS||DURHAM ST||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2015||HARRIS||SHAVER STREET||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2015||HARRIS||TRENTHAM PLACE||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2015||HARRIS||SCOTT STREET||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|10||2015||HARRIS||MARKET STREET||Pick-up truck||Freight Train||0||0|
|10||2015||HARRIS||GATE 8||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|5||2015||HARRIS||CLAY ROAD||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|20||2015||HARRIS||ALTIC STREET||Automobile||Freight Train||0||1|
|5||2015||HARRIS||PRIVATE PLANT CROSSI||Truck-trailer||Yard/Switch||0||0|
|0||2015||HARRIS||GRIGGS ROAD||Truck-trailer||Light Loco(s)||0||2|
|5||2015||HARRIS||JENSEN DRIVE||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2015||HARRIS||JENSEN DR.||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2016||HARRIS||LONG DR||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2016||HARRIS||LYONS AVE||Pedestrian||Freight Train||0||0|
|5||2016||HARRIS||OIL TANKING WEST MAI||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|20||2016||HARRIS||LYONS AVE.||Automobile||Freight Train||0||1|
|10||2016||HARRIS||5800 LONG ROAD||Automobile||Freight Train||0||1|
|0||2016||HARRIS||FONDREN ROAD||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2016||HARRIS||KEMPWOOD DR||Pick-up truck||Freight Train||0||0|
|10||2016||HARRIS||LYONS AVE||Pick-up truck||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2016||HARRIS||LONG STREET||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|19||2016||HARRIS||PARKER ST||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|10||2016||HARRIS||LONG DRIVE||Automobile||Freight Train||0||0|
|0||2016||HARRIS||OIL TANKING EAST MAI||Truck-trailer||Freight Train||0||0|
|3||2016||HARRIS||IN THE YARD||Pick-up truck||Light Loco(s)||0||0|
|5||2016||HARRIS||JACINTO BLVD. CROSSI||Truck-trailer||Cut of Cars||0||0|
Houston has a very high number of highway and railroad crashes. Check to see if any of the crash areas are on your route and proceed with caution.
Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report
Now that we know Houston has a high number of crashes, we want to see what Allstate thinks of Houston’s drivers.
In Allstate’s 2019 Best Drivers Report, which ranks the 200 largest cities in the U.S., Houston ranked as 158.
We’d definitely like Houston to be higher up on the list. Less than eight years tends to pass between claims in Houston, which means most drivers are in an accident every eight years.
Need a rideshare to the airport or to a fun night out with friends? Below are the rideshare options available in Houston.
- Taxi: a traditional taxi in Houston tends to be slightly cheaper than Lyft or Uber.
- Lyft: this rideshare option is going to cost the same as Uber.
- Uber: this rideshare option is the same as Lyft.
While Lyft and Uber are fairly economical in price, they will cost more if you choose luxury or premium rides. To make sure you are getting the best price on your rideshare, compare prices on sites like Ride Guru.
EStar Repair Shops
Need help finding a repair shop for after an accident or for an oil change? Esurance rates reputable shops on its EStar repair shop program. Let’s take a look at what EStar rated shops are in Houston.
|Shop Name||Address||Contact Info|
|MILLER AUTO & BODY REPAIR||4816 N. SHEPHERD|
HOUSTON, TX 77018
P: (713) 864-7820
F: (713) 864-6280
|RUSSELL & SMITH FORD HONDA||1109 SOUTH LOOP W|
HOUSTON, TX 77054
P: (713) 663-4216
F: (713) 663-4110
|SERVICE KING GALLERIA||5919 WESTHEIMER ROAD|
HOUSTON, TX 77057
P: (713) 243-1400
F: (713) 266-4316
|CARSTAR PREMIER||9520 RICHMOND AVE.|
HOUSTON, TX 77063
P: (713) 952-3777
|SERVICE KING SOUTHWEST FREEWAY||10475 SOUTHWEST FREEWAY|
HOUSTON, TX 77074
P: (713) 773-5000
F: (713) 772-1746
|SERVICE KING PEARLAND||2330 SMITH RANCH ROAD|
PEARLAND, TX 77584
P: (713) 795-3100
F: (800) 214-2373
|SUNRISE PAINT & BODY INC.||4211 COOK RD|
HOUSTON, TX 77072
P: (281) 933-7473
F: (281) 933-9426
|CHARLTON’S BODY REPAIR||1131 STAFFORDSHIRE RD|
STAFFORD, TX 77477
P: (281) 499-1126
F: (281) 499-1694
|GREENFIELD COLLISION CENTER||15920 KUYKENDAHL|
HOUSTON, TX 77068
P: (281) 580-1994
F: (281) 580-3205
|SERVICE KING HUMBLE||450 E FM 1960|
HUMBLE, TX 77338
P: (281) 446-6660
F: (800) 214-2373
If you want to look for more shops in your area, you can use the EStar repair shop locator.
You can expect to have sunny weather in Houston. Below, you can see US Climate Data’s information on Houston’s average weather temperatures.
|Houston, TX Weather||Details|
|Annual high temperature||78.3°F|
|Annual low temperature||59.8°F|
|Average annual precipitation (rainfall)||45.28 inches|
|Days per year with precipitation (rainfall)||106 days|
|Annual hours of sunshine||2,633 hours|
|Average annual snowfall||-|
US Climate Data didn’t record an average snowfall in Houston, but in a city with an average of 2,633 hours of sunshine a year, snowfall is going to be a rarity.
Unfortunately, while Houston may have few snowfalls, it is prone to a number of natural disasters.
Houston has had 29 natural disasters: storms, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical storms, fires, and winds.
This is higher than the U.S. average (13 natural disasters). With such a high number of natural disasters, you may want to consider comprehensive coverage.
This coverage protects your car from damages from natural disasters, such as flood damage. It also protects in cases of theft or vandalism, which is useful in a city with a crime rating of just four.
There are also discounts for students, seniors, Medicare cardholders, and disabled people. Children under five ride for free.
Currently, Houston has Houston B Cycle, which offers bike rentals around the city.
So it may be a while yet until electric scooters hit Houston’s streets.
Parking in Metro Areas
Houston has numerous street parking spaces, and the city has a great payment system that accepts coins, bills, or debit/credit cards. This means no more fiddling with outdated coin meters.
So how can you pay?
- Pay-by-Plate: At the pay station, enter your license plate number and pay. This method allows you to forego placing a receipt on your dashboard.
- Pay-by-App: Don’t feel like walking to the nearest pay station? If you download the ParkMobile app, you can pay Houston’s meters from the comfort of your car.
- Pay-and-Display: If you don’t enter your license plate number, you’ll need to take the receipt and place it on your dashboard.
The parking limits vary from two hours to 10 hours (it will be listed on the pay station). If you need to park longer than the listed time slot, you should go to a parking lot or garage.
However, Houston does offer a hopper pass for exploring downtown, where you can move your car to a new parking space when the zone’s time limit is up without having to buy a new pass. The pass is valid from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Saturday (parking is free on Sundays and holidays).
If you don’t want to be moving your car every few hours, though, a parking garage is still your best bet.
As for satellite parking, this will be available at METRO stations, college campuses, hotels, and airports. You will have to pay to leave your car at an airport, though, so a rideshare may be the better option.
Have an electric vehicle? Houston has 284 electric vehicle charging stations, and 122 of them are free. So if you need to park and charge, it should easy to find a station near you.
Air Quality in Houston
Cars have been a major source of pollution ever since the first buggy rolled belching onto the streets. While our air emissions laws have worked to control cars’ pollution, cars still dirty the air we breathe every day.
|Houston-The Woodlands – SugarLand Air Quality Index||2016||2017||2018|
|Days With AQI||366||365||365|
|Days Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups||22||22||26|
|Very Unhealthy Days||0||0||2|
Unfortunately, the EPA has recorded an increase in unhealthy days and very unhealthy days. This isn’t good. Hopefully, continued focus on improving vehicles’ emissions will help clean up Houston’s air.
Military and Veterans
It can be hard to slog through insurers to find the best rates and discounts. And if you are military, it can be hard to determine which company offers the best military discount, if one is even offered.
To save you time, we are going to go through everything you need to know about military providers and discounts. We will also cover military in Houston, so you’re aware of what veterans and bases are in the city.
Let’s jump in.
Veterans by Service Period
According to Data USA, the most common service periods in 2017 are as follows:
- Vietnam: 20,569 veterans
- Gulf War (2001-): 17,611 veterans
- Gulf War (1990s): 10,103 veterans
- Korea: 4,514 veterans
- World War II: 1,911 veterans
The majority of veterans in Houston served in the Vietnam war.
Military Bases Within an Hour
While not a military base, this station provides search and rescue for the Texas and Louisiana coast sides.
Military Discounts by Providers
So which Texas providers offer discounts to military personnel? Take a look at the list below.
|Insurance Company||Percentage Saved by Discount (when known)|
|Liberty Mutual (must be active duty)||4%|
*USAA also offers a military garaging discount.
Always ask providers if they have military discounts. A local Houston provider that’s not on our list may have a discount for you.
USAA is well-known for its cheap rates. Let’s see how USAA’s rates compare to other competitor’s rates in Texas.
|Group||Annual Premium||Compared to State Average (+/-)||Compared to State Average (%)|
USAA is by far the cheapest company in Texas. However, it is only for military members and their families. So if a driver isn’t military, State Farm or Geico are the next best options.
Unique City Laws
Every city is different in how it addresses driving and parking laws. If you don’t take the time to read up on unique city laws beforehand, you may find yourself with a ticket.
Since getting a ticket is no way to start out your life in Houston, we are going to go through must-know laws. So keep reading to learn about cellphone laws, food truck laws, and more.
Distracted driving has become a dangerous problem, and states are working to reduce distracted driving by creating cellphone laws. In Texas, the cellphone laws are as follows:
- Handheld Ban. Applies when drivers are in school crossing zones and public school properties (during reduced speed limit times).
- Young Drivers All Cellphone Ban. Applies to drivers 18 years and younger.
- Texting Ban. Applies to all drivers.
Enforcement of these laws is primary, which means officers can pull over and ticket anyone they see breaking these rules.
Is your dream owning and operating food truck in Houston? If so, there are a few practical matters to be dealt with first.
The City of Houston requires all drivers to have the proper licenses before operation.
For example, food trucks must meet safety regulations and owners must have food preparation licenses. Food trucks must also be parked in the proper zones, and they can’t block intersections, fire hydrants, or driveways.
Once all the paperwork is out of the way, though, you can take your food truck around the city.
Tiny homes have become the latest craze. However, having a tiny home in Houston may be more difficult than you thought.
Houston has a lot of laws that make it difficult to build a tiny home in Houston, and navigating all these restrictions may make building a tiny home more trouble than its worth.
However, careful planning can let you have the tiny home of your dreams, even if you have to jump through a few hoops to get to it.
It doesn’t matter how tough it is to find a parking spot. Wrong direction parking is illegal. The passenger side of your vehicle must always be facing the curb.
Otherwise, you’ll have to pull out into oncoming traffic, which is dangerous for you and others. Not to mention the pricey ticket you’ll get if an officer passes by your car.
To curb the temptation to whip into an open spot before someone else gets it, consider reserving a spot at a local parking garage. This way, you know for sure that you’ll have a spot.
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Houston Car Insurance FAQs
We’ve covered a lot of information, and everything we’ve thrown at you may have left your head spinning. If you still have questions, keep reading to see what others are asking about Houston.
What happens if I get into an accident in Houston?
If you caused the accident, you are liable for the other driver’s injury and property damage costs. This is because Texas is an at-fault state. Likewise, if the other driver caused the accident, that driver will have to pay for your accident costs.
Is Houston a safe place to live?
If you live in one of Houston’s safer neighborhoods, you should be fine. However, be aware that Houston has a crime index rating of four, meaning it is only safer than four percent of all U.S. cities.
What’s Houston’s time zone?
Houston, Texas is in the Central Standard Time Zone. So if you are coming from a different time zone, make sure to adjust your time so you don’t call Grandma at 4 a.m.
How big is Houston, Texas?
Big. It is the fourth most populated city in the U.S., and it is the largest city in Texas. So if you move to Houston, be prepared to have your personal bubble popped when walking down a crowded street.
What is the main airport in Houston?
Houston’s main airport is the George Bush Intercontinental Airport. This airport is about 30 minutes from the heart of Houston, making it easy for you to catch your next flight out of the city.
We hope we answered all your questions. Now that you’ve read our guide, you should be ready to drive around Houston and live in the most populated city in Texas.
If you want to start comparing car insurance rates today, try out our free rate tool below.