Once you buy a house, you absolutely need the right home insurance.
Your home is usually the largest asset that you have. If something happened to it, you’d be ruined financially. Getting the right home insurance policy protects you against that risk.
Home insurance protects you from storms, fire, robbery, and other disasters. Keep in mind that home insurance doesn’t usually include protection from flooding. You’ll need a second policy for that.
I wouldn’t skimp here, take the time and money to get the right policy. Your home is too important.
The Best Home Insurance Companies for 2020
Should an unthinkable disaster happen, you’ll be glad you stuck with one of the best home insurers, which should help you receive a prompt payment of your claim. Here are the 10 best home insurance companies to use.
Amica Mutual – Owned By the Customers
Great reputation and customer service scores but you’ll pay a premium price for it and won’t get many discounts.
- Promptly pays the majority of claims
- Excellent customer service scores
- The customers become part-owners and receive dividends over time
- Proven reliable
- First year premiums are higher than average
- Doesn’t offer very many discounts
Allstate – Good for New Homeowners
A good option for first-time home owners that can’t get good policies elsewhere, some discounts will be available too. But the customer ratings could be higher.
- Willing to insure first-time homeowners
- Multiple creative discounts available
- Well-known brand name
- Many local agents to pick from
- Customer satisfaction scores could be higher
- May reject some policies in wildfire danger areas
American Family – Multiple Discount Options
Not available nationwide but does have plenty of discount options. It’s worth checking to see if you can get it. Customer ratings aren’t great though.
- Its digital tools for self-managing policies work well
- Has quite a few discounts for those who qualify
- Policies are relatively easy to customize
- Customer service levels are a bit disappointing
- Not as widely available across the country as some other insurers
Erie Insurance – Highly Rated Insurer
People rave about Erie Insurance but it’s extremely limited, you can only get it in the Northeast and Midwest.
- Outstanding customer service scores
- Gives you quick response to investigate any claims
- Guaranteed replacement cost coverage options
- Makes it easy to add coverage for uncommon situations
- Only available in certain regions of the country
- Doesn’t have an online service option, so you have to make a telephone call
Farmers Insurance – Specializes in Large Homes
Great option for larger properties, the rates are usually better. It’s a standard, nationwide insurance company with customer ratings that are alright but not great.
- Good choice for high value homes and properties
- Gives you policy options in multiple pricing tiers
- Policy features customized to your location’s perils
- Rewards customers who don’t make frequent claims
- Customer service could be better
- Rates on smaller homes aren’t as competitive as for big homes
Geico – Easily Customizable Policy
One of the best options if you want to get your premiums as low as possible. Geico doesn’t handle the claim themselves though, they sell it to another insurance company. So you won’t know who’s responsible for helping you when you purchase the policy.
- Allows you to closely control your policy’s features
- Reasonable prices for homeowner coverage
- Customer service is easy to contact in multiple ways
- Geico sells the policies to other insurers, so someone else handles claims
- Fewer local agents than some other insurers
MetLife – Guaranteed Replacement Cost
A good option if you really want a guaranteed replacement cost policy. Customer ratings aren’t as good as they could be though.
- Will give policyholders guaranteed replacement cost coverage
- Well-known brand name
- Provides discounts to employees of certain companies
- Customer service scores could be better
- Difficult to find information or make account changes on the website
Progressive – Lots of Pricing Options
Lots of options and very easy to change your policy online. Definitely one of the better options if you want to avoid getting on the phone.
- Specializes in letting you control your policy digitally
- Offers policies in a huge range of price points, depending on what you want
- Has multiple tiers of replacement cost coverage options
- Doesn’t write the policies itself, so the someone else handles the claims
- Inconsistent customer service response levels
State Farm – Well-Known Brand
One of the largest insurance brands so it’s almost always an option. Has a good reputation overall too and open to insuring first-time homeowners. But the rates will be a bit higher on most policies.
- Plenty of agents to personally serve you
- Delivers better than average service to customers
- More than willing to sell policies to first-time homeowners
- One of the biggest brand names in insurance of all kinds
- Rates are a little above average
- Doesn’t have as many discount options as some others
USAA – Excellent Customer Satisfaction
If you or your family is employed by the military, definitely get a quote from USAA. They have some of the highest customer ratings around but are only available to the armed forces.
- Highly rated for customer service
- Trustworthy and reliable insurer
- Good discount if you also have an auto policy
- Seems to handle the claims process quickly
- Only open to military members and their families
- Premiums are a little higher than average
How to Choose The Best Home Insurance Company
When purchasing home insurance, you need to pay attention to more than just price. I’d avoid going with the cheapest quote from an unknown company.
The last thing you want is to have your insurance company fail you at claim time, just when you need it the most. Here are some tips for determining how to choose the best home insurance provider.
Check the Insurer’s Reputation
You can use the A.M. Best website, the J.D. Power website, or Consumer Reports for third-party information on the performance level of various home insurers. Some of these reports will require a paid subscription, usually in the $10/month range. I think it’s well-worth the cost when getting something as important as a home policy.
You also can check personal reviews of various insurance companies on the Internet. Just keep in mind that some reviews may be fake, so don’t rely on just one or two random reviews.
Do You Want an Agent?
Some insurance companies do the majority of their business over the phone and Internet. Local agents are not commonly available. These insurance policies often appear at a below average cost.
Other insurance companies rely on personal agents. These agents will live near you, and they will be willing to visit your home and help you pick the best option. If you ever have a claim, it can be a big relief to have a person with whom you’re familiar on your side. It’s also a lot easier to work directly with a nagent if you need a customized policy.
You often will pay a bit more to have an agent, though.
Look for Insurance Discounts
Discounts on homeowners insurance can add up quickly if you have enough of them. Some of the items for which you may receive a premium cost discount include:
- Actively monitored home security features
- Actively monitored smoke detectors installed
- Carbon monoxide detectors installed
- Other policies (such as auto) with the same insurer
- Good credit score
- Member of the military
- First responder
- Specific home improvements
- Specific types of roofs
- Senior citizen discount
- Not smoking
Installing the right features in your home and getting your credit score up are the best ways to get a better policy. Also consider combining multiple policies with the same company if you can get good quotes on those other policies.
Some home insurance providers will serve any region in the United States. Others only appear in a certain region or collection of states.
If you can get one of the regional insurance companies like Erie Insurance that have amazing reputations, do it. If you live outside these areas, get a few quotes from the national brands to give you a sense for what to expect. And if you’re considering a regional insurer that’s not on our list, double check their customer ratings before going with them over the national providers.
Learn How Deductibles Work
The deductible is the main part of your policy that you have control over.
- What is a deductible? The deductible is the amount you must pay out of pocket before you’ll receive any benefits from the policy.
- How does a deductible work? If you have a $2,000 deductible on your roof, and the repair costs are $6,500, you will pay $2,000 for the repairs, while the insurance company will pay $4,500 on the claim.
- Do deductibles vary in a single policy? Almost certainly. You may have different deductible amounts for different types of claims in one policy.
- How do deductibles affect the policy cost? If you choose a higher deductible, you will save money on your monthly premium. But you then must pay more out of pocket if you ever have a claim. So you have to weigh the pros and cons of a high deductible for your personal financial situation.
If you think the odds are high that you’ll file a claim or don’t have much cash on hand, get a policy with a low deductible. You’ll have to pay less before your insurance company starts covering the cost.
You could also choose a high deductible if you’re not worried about covering that amount yourself and would rather have a lower monthly payment.
Are You Penalized for Making Claims?
Some insurance companies will raise your rates immediately after you make a claim. And it often doesn’t seem to matter if your claim is for a few hundred dollars or tens of thousands of dollars.
First, ask the insurance company about its policy on raising rates after claims. Some companies specifically say they will not raise rates after some types of claims.
Second, avoid making claims for small items if at all possible. If you are making a $1,300 claim and your deductible is $1,000, you’re only going to receive a $300 payment.
Is that small amount worth it if the company is going to raise your rates right after it sends you the check? Probably not. So you may want to avoid making a claim in this case and just pay the full $1,300 out of pocket.
Do You Have Big Dogs?
Some insurance companies are leery about insuring homeowners who have large dogs, certain breeds of dogs, or some exotic animals. The insurer may charge you a premium if you have these types of animals, or it may deny your policy application.
If you have big dogs or nontraditional pets, you will want to shop around and find a home insurer that will not penalize you for owning these animals.
We Didn’t Forget About Price
Price shouldn’t be the only thing you consider when shopping for the top home insurance policy, but it does play a role.
I would get at least three different quotes from insurance companies before making a decision. Quotes can range widely for the same policy so you’ll want to check around. And if you want to get the best policy for the least amount, get at least 5 quotes. Then compare the prices to customer satisfaction scores before making a final decision.
Update Your Mortgage When Changing Policies
If you do select one of these best home insurance companies, and you’ll be changing your home insurer while you have a mortgage, don’t forget to contact your lender about the change.
If your mortgage company believes you don’t have home insurance coverage, you could have a significant problem with your home loan.
Ultimately, the lender may choose to purchase insurance for you, likely at a much higher price than you could receive in a policy on your own. This could cost a lot of extra money for something you don’t need.
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