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Your house is one of your most important investments, along with everything inside it. A good homeowners insurance policy helps you recover from both minor and major setbacks, like theft, fire and tornadoes.
But you don’t want to go with just any company to protect your investment. You want to find a company with excellent customer service and reasonable prices. Here are the best home insurance companies.
Why we picked it: Erie earns our top spot due to its very competitive rates, good coverage perks and a low level of complaints, which indicates good customer service. You’ll also have the option to add increased dwelling coverage, such as extended replacement cost and guaranteed replacement cost coverage.
Dog lovers will be delighted that Erie does not have a banned dogged list, meaning you shouldn’t have trouble getting insurance if you own a dog like a pit bull or a Mastiff. And shoppers can take advantage of gift certificate coverage that reimburses you up to $250 if a local business closes.
Potential drawbacks: Erie is a regional insurer and only available in 12 states primarily on the East Coast and in the Midwest and D.C.
Why we picked it: USAA is a top-rate option for military veterans and their families. Known for very competitive prices and excellent customer service, you’ll also be glad to learn USAA doesn’t have a banned dog list. And if you want more coverage for your home, you can add extended replacement cost coverage.
Potential drawbacks: USAA is restricted to active military personnel, veterans and eligible family members.
Why we picked it: Auto-Owners has very good rates and excellent customer service compared to its competitors. Homeowners who live in areas affected by disasters will have the option to add guaranteed replacement cost coverage, which pays to rebuild your home no matter the cost.
Potential drawbacks: Dog owners might be bummed about the banned dog list. Owners of breeds deemed aggressive might not be able to get liability coverage or will only be offered limited liability coverage.
Why we picked it: Homeowners looking for a good deal will find Lemonade has excellent prices. For the digitally inclined, Lemonade’s app is a good way to manage your home insurance and make claims. The company also donates money when claims are low to charities through the Lemonade Giveback program.
Potential drawbacks: An average complaint level might not be attractive for customers looking for top-notch customer service.
Why we picked it: Chubb is a solid choice for owners of high-value homes. In addition to increased dwelling coverage, you’ll have the option to get a cash settlement if your home is destroyed and you do not want to rebuild. If you are a dog owner, no worries here. Chubb doesn’t have a banned dog list.
Potential drawbacks: Chubb’s rates are just OK compared to top competitors.
What Is Homeowners Insurance?
When disaster strikes, homeowners insurance protects your home and belongings from loss due to damage, destruction or theft. Standard policies combine different coverages designed to protect the interior and exterior of the structure of your home, other features on your property such as a fence, and your possessions like a couch.
Policies also include liability coverage which protects your financial assets if you’re at fault for someone’s injuries on your property or property damage. So, if your neighbor sues you after your new puppy bites them, liability coverage can cover medical and legal costs.
And, if your home is uninhabitable due to something like fire damage, a standard policy also reimburses you for accommodations or other expenses while your home is repaired.
What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
Standard homeowners insurance policies have several coverages, including:
Dwelling coverage pays to rebuild the structure of your home. So, if weighted snow caves in the roof of your living room, dwelling coverage will reimburse you for repairs. The coverage amount should be enough to cover the total cost to rebuild your home, including construction, labor and material costs.
Other Structures Coverage
Homeowners insurance typically covers structures around your property that are not directly attached to your home, such as a fence or shed in your backyard. This type of coverage generally provides up to 10 percent of your dwelling coverage amount. So, if you have $200,000 of dwelling coverage, your insurer will provide $20,000 of coverage for the other structures around your property.
Personal Property Coverage
Homeowners insurance also covers your personal belongings like your clothes or furniture in your house. Whether your items are stolen, damaged or destroyed in a covered event such as a fire, this coverage will pay to repair or replace them. So, if a burglar snatches your flat-screen TV, you’re covered.
Keep in mind; typical policies cover about 50 percent to 70 percent of your dwelling coverage amount. So, if you have $300,000 of dwelling coverage, your insurer will likely give you $150,000 to $210,000 of personal property coverage to cover all of your stuff.
If your belongings exceed this coverage amount, you may have to purchase additional insurance to ensure you’re fully protected
Lawsuits brought against you can be costly, or worse, financially devastating. For this reason, liability insurance protects your financial resources such as investments, bank accounts or other property. For example, suppose someone sues you for injuries or property damage where you’re at fault. This coverage can help pay for expenses such as the legal costs of the lawsuit or medical bills resulting from the injury (up to the policy limits).
Insurance companies usually start liability coverage caps around $100,000. Therefore, if your lawsuit exceeds this amount, you could be left with some liability. To avoid this situation, it’s wise to have enough liability insurance to cover your entire net worth or the total number of assets.
If you need liability coverage outside of your auto and home liability limits, an umbrella policy is an affordable way to receive extra coverage.
Medical Payments to Others
If one of your guests gets injured around your property, medical payment coverage will typically pay for their medical bills. Policy limits tend to hover around $1,000 to $5,000.
Additional Living Expenses Coverage
Suppose your home becomes unlivable due to a covered event like a windstorm blowing half of your roof away. In that case, additional living expense coverage or “loss of use” coverage pays for expenses while your home is under repair. This coverage can pay for sleeping accommodations, food and other costs like boarding a pet.
And, if you rent out a portion of your home to a tenant, this coverage can also pay for the loss of rent income. Remember, just like the other coverages included in your policy, loss of use coverage has payout limits.
Other Key Factors When Purchasing Homeowners Insurance
Consider these four other things when purchasing homeowners insurance:
1. Actual cash value coverage vs. replacement cost coverage
Actual cash value coverage considers depreciation when replacing your personal property or rebuilding your home, while replacement cost doesn’t. So, suppose your property is damaged or destroyed. In that case, replacement cost coverage means your insurer will pay to repair your home with similar materials used to build the current structure of your home.
Check with your insurance provider to determine if replacement cost for your dwelling and personal possession coverage comes with your policy. If not, it’s worth considering.
Keep in mind, if your home is older, some insurance companies will not offer replacement cost coverage at all. In this case, you may have to resort to modified replacement coverage, which means the insurer will pay to repair your home with today’s building materials.
2. Purchase extra coverage for your valuables
Do you have valuables such as jewelry or antiques? If so, most insurance companies place particular limits, also known as sub-limits, on valuable items. For example, home insurance policies typically set a $1,500 limit for stolen jewelry.
If you have any pieces of jewelry that exceed this value, you’ll have to purchase additional coverage by scheduling the item. Scheduling your valuables means you’re purchasing separate coverage to ensure the item’s total value is covered. Therefore, if you have antiques, valuable artwork, or expensive rugs, consider buying extra coverage for these items.
3. Buy coverage for natural disasters not covered in your policy
While homeowners insurance covers a wide range of natural disasters, a few calamities are excluded from policies such as floods, landslides or earthquakes. So if you live in a flood zone or close to a fault line, you’ll need to purchase a separate policy to ensure you have adequate coverage if one of these natural disasters damages your home or belongings.
4. Consider endorsements
In some cases, you may need coverage that falls outside of a coverage found in a standard home insurance policy. Buying coverage extras or endorsements as the insurance industry calls them will help close the coverage gaps.
For example, suppose you run a home business where your clients come and go from your property. In this case, you will likely need business liability and asset coverage. Other considerations may include water backup and sump overflow coverage, increased coverage for landscaping, or identify theft coverage.
How Much Does Home Insurance Cost?
For $300,000 of dwelling coverage, homeowners insurance costs an average of $1,854 a year, according to Forbes Advisor.
But the actual cost you pay for home insurance depends on factors such as the cost to rebuild your home, the level of insurance coverage you want, and your deductible amount.
Save Money With These Homeowners Insurance Discounts
To help you cut your home insurance cost, you can look for discounts. Some discounts your insurer may offer include:
- Multi-policy discount. If you buy multiple policies from one insurance company, such as home and auto, you may qualify for a multi-policy or bundling discount.
- New/renovated home discount. You could qualify for savings if your home was recently renovated or built.
- Claim-free discount. Going within filing a claim for a few years can help you save money.
- Premium payment discounts. When you go paperless or pay your entire annual premium upfront, you may qualify for a discount.
- Roof age discount. A newer roof can help you earn a discount on coverage.
- Safety and security discounts. When your home is equipped with safety devices such as fire alarms or security systems, you can save money.
- Employment, organization or association discounts. Some insurance companies offer discounts for certain occupations or organization membership.
- Disaster preparedness discount. Some insurance companies offer discounts if you take steps to guard your home against natural disasters, like installing storm shutters.
We evaluated a variety of factors that reflect a home insurance company’s level of protection, pricing and customer care.
- 50 percent of weight was based on home insurance rates, based on national averages for each insurer. Source: Quadrant Information Services.
- 20 percent of weight was based on complaints about home insurance upheld by state insurance departments. Source: National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
- 20 percent of weight was based on the availability of increased dwelling coverage, such as extended and/or guaranteed replacement cost coverage. These coverage types are essential when a large-scale disaster affects a region and causes construction materials and labor costs to surge.
- 10 percent of weight was based on banned dog lists. Some home insurers ban specific breeds or offer limited liability coverage.