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Best homeowners insurance 2020: Find your perfect house cover

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Homeowners insurance can cover you for damage to your home and belonging, as well as personal liability. Finding the right insurer is important, that's why Assurance helps you by getting quotes from home insurers in your area.
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Your home is the single largest investment you will ever make in your life. It’s also where you spend the vast majority of your time and live your life, so it’s worth protecting. But given your home’s value, both monetary and otherwise, it can be difficult to figure out which home insurance provider is right for you. Getting the right cover is essential, so it takes a bit of shopping around to find the best homeowners insurance provider.

Not all insurance, and not all insurance providers, were created equal. On the surface, they all tend to offer standard HO-3 cover, which protects your home along with any other structures on your property and some of your belongings. But while HO-3 covers you for a host of unfortunate eventualities, it’s far from exhaustive. 

Homeowners insurance can cover you for a whole lot more, but usually through paid-for add-ons to your basic cover. Providers offer different extras, at different prices, and it’s important you pick one that can offer the add-ons that you need, if you need any at all. That might include flood or earthquake cover, cover for home workers, or cover for pets and valuables not automatically included in a basic policy.

Price is also a factor, of course, but the amount you pay will depend to a large degree on your personal circumstances. It will also depend on any discounts your provider offers, and again, they tend to be quite different in this regard. Some providers offer a long list of discounts, while others offer just a basic few. Almost all providers will offer money off if you bundle your home and auto insurance together. 

Then there is customer service, communication, and ease of use to consider. How clearly will an agent explain the cover they are trying to sell you and make sure it is exactly right for your needs? If you need to make a claim, how easy is it to do and how quickly and smoothly will your claim be fulfilled? Does the information on the company’s website tell you everything you need to know, and can you manage your account easily from a mobile app?

These are all important questions to ask, and they’re questions we’ve tried to answer in our homeowner insurance reviews. Start with our buyer’s guide to the best home insurance below, and then follow the links to our full reviews. 

1. Amica Mutual: Best overall insurer

Amica Insurance

(Image credit: Amica )

Amica Mutual

Best overall insurance provider

Information support: Amica’s website is quite basic, with no real information hub | Customer support: Telephone, live chat, postal support and social media | Interface: Browser and mobile app

Celebrated customer service and support
A solid product line with good add-ons and discounts
Strong financials
A basic website and issues with Android app

No surprises here. Amica offers a top tier product backed by the best customer service in the sector. Don’t take our word for it, though. The customers who fill in the JD Power Home Insurance survey give it top marks year after year - and for 18 consecutive years to be precise. 

In the latest survey Amica achieved five stars almost across the board, taking the award for top provider once again. There are no big secrets behind its success. It has a fairly basic website and app, for example. But it consistently punches above its weight in terms of customer satisfaction, and offers good basic cover and a very decent selection of add-ons and discounts. Its products aren’t world-beating, but it interacts with customers in a way that keeps them informed, reassured, and coming back for more.

2. Erie Insurance: Best for basic insurance

Erie Insurance

(Image credit: Erie Insurance)

Erie Insurance

Best for basic insurance

Information support: Fair online information hub, tackling subjects beyond basic insurance | Customer support: Telephone and online support available. The company is also on social media | Interface: Browser only

Superb basic cover
Good add-ons
Five star customer satisfaction rating
No mobile app
If you live west of Wisconsin you’re out of luck

Erie Insurance scores almost as highly as Amica, but its limited geographical presence - it is only currently available in 12 states and the District of Columbia - keeps it from challenging for top spot. But we think it’s the best for standard cover, and were particularly keen on its guaranteed replacement cost, which means it won’t subtract a wear and tear estimate from your payout.

3. State Farm: Best for agent network

State Farm

(Image credit: State Farm)

State Farm

Best for agent network

Information support: Excellent online information hub, tackling subjects beyond basic insurance | Customer support: Telephone, online, social media and postal support available, but no live chat | Interface: Browser and mobile app

Huge agent network
Very strong financial position
Good basic product backed by comprehensive resources
Not the best for specialist coverage
Policies and discounts are not the same in every state

State Farm’s overall customer satisfaction rating in the latest annual JD Power Home Insurance survey is four out of five, which is good if a step below Amica and Erie. But there are advantages to going with a big operator, and State Farm is the biggest of them all. It boasts a huge network of agents, so you’re more likely to be able to talk to someone in person. It also has a financial strength rating of A++, which means it is never going to have trouble fulfilling its obligations to customers. Finally, State Farm has plenty of money to plough into great online resources and a solid mobile app.

State Farm isn’t for everyone - it has fewer add-ons than some competitors - but if you have fairly standard coverage needs it is a very good option. 

4. Allstate: Best for online tools

Allstate Insurance

(Image credit: Allstate)

Allstate Home Insurance

Best for online tools

Information support: Allstate’s website features an excellent resource centre | Customer support: Telephone, email, and postal support available, though no live chat. You can also tweet the company | Interface: Browser and mobile app

Good basic coverage and a great range of extras
Helpful online resources, useful tools
A historic company with wide experience
Customer satisfaction scores aren't great

Allstate is a very solid performer with an excellent list of features, but less-than-stellar customer satisfaction scores keep it off top spot. We loved its comprehensive range of resources. Allstate is something of a one-stop-shop for basic insurance information, making it a good choice for home buyers looking for their first insurance package. And we were particularly impressed with its GoodHome tool, which provides personalized tips for specific locations, based on local records.

5. Nationwide: Best for unique features

Nationwide Insurance

(Image credit: Nationwide Insurance)

Nationwide

Best for unique features

Information support: Good online information hub, tackling subjects beyond basic insurance | Customer support: Telephone, online and email support available, but no live chat. The company is also on social media | Interface: Browser and mobile app

Some standout features, including ordinance or law insurance
Easy to use website and mobile app
A strong, well established company
Pricier than average
Middling JD Power score for customer satisfaction

Nationwide doesn’t score too well for customer satisfaction, but it does offer an attractive range of features and discounts. We were particularly impressed with its ordinance or law coverage. That means if your roof, plumbing or electrical system is badly damaged, it won’t just pay for like-for-like replacements, but may help you upgrade your infrastructure to meet current building codes and safety standards. That’s a potentially major saving in the event of disaster striking your home.

6. Liberty Mutual: Best for innovations

Liberty Mutual

(Image credit: Liberty Mutual)

Liberty Mutual

Best for innovations

Information support: Good online information hub, tackling subjects beyond basic insurance | Customer support: Telephone, online, live chat and email support available. The company is also on social media | Interface: Browser, mobile app and Amazon Alexa

Some unique features
A wide range of discounts
Very good online and mobile services
Below average customer satisfaction score
Financials could be better

A Liberty Mutual policy will cover personal belongings as standard and can also cover your valuables. It will help you pay your living expenses if you can’t reside in your home while damages are being repaired. It can cover other buildings on your property, like a shed or outhouse, and boasts an add-on that has you covered for water backup and sump pump overflow. But best of all, Liberty offers a couple of real innovations, including an Amazon Alexa skill and its inflation protection endorsement. It would score more highly with a better customer satisfaction rating.

7. Travelers: Best for green homes

Travelers Insurance

(Image credit: Travelers)

Travelers

Best for green homes

Information support: Good online information hub, tackling subjects beyond basic insurance **Customer support:** Telephone, email and online support available. The company is also on social media | Interface: Browser, mobile app and Amazon Alexa

Good basic cover and add-ons
Useful website resources
A strong, stable provider
Average customer satisfaction score
Mobile app may need tweaking

Travellers offers a fairly standard - but nonetheless comprehensive - range of features and add-ons, with a couple of major innovations for green homeowners and those who want to be more environmentally responsible. For a start,  you can save up to 5% if your home is already certified a “green home” by the Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) organization. In addition, Travelers also offers green home coverage, meaning it will help repair, replace or rebuild with green materials after you file a claim. These are excellent features, but Travellers is another company that suffers from average customer satisfaction scores. 

We wouldn’t necessarily discount any home insurance provider based on one snapshot - they might have exactly the right cover for you, and your experience with the company may be exemplary - but we would always advise you to collect a number of quotes before coming to a final decision. 

It’s worth taking your time and doing your homework. Damage to your home is not as unlikely as you might think. Freak storms may be unheard of in your neck of the woods, but backed up sewers aren’t. Read the small print, talk to an agent if necessary, and make sure that the things that are precious to you are fully covered, just in case the unthinkable happens.    

How much does homeowners insurance cost?

The cost of homeowners insurance is difficult to nail down without considering the following variables:

  • Your personal consumer report, including your insurance-credit score and claims history
  • Age and size of home
  • Construction material and quality of build
  • Roof material and age of roof
  • Proximity to risk (earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and forest fires)
  • Geographical considerations
  • Eligibility for discounts 

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average countrywide premium for homeowners insurance is $1,173 per year. This comes out to about $97.75 per month. However, premiums vary widely based on the above variables – and more. Insurance providers can consider relatively mundane details, such as how close your home is to the nearest fire hydrant, in determining costs.

The same report notes how homeowners insurance costs can differ based on location and risk factors. For example, the report cites Florida as having the highest premiums, with an average of $1,993 per year, due to its common risk of hurricane damage. Conversely, Oregon has the lowest average premium, at $643 per year, in part because of its relatively low proximity to risk and generally lower property values, which affects the reconstruction costs.

What does homeowners insurance cover?

Every insurance providers' policies vary a little in how they cover various hazards, risks and more. But according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, most homeowners insurance policies cover the following:

Dwelling
Protects your home and structures attached to your home, such as the garage, decks and patios, from damage from a wide variety of hazards like fire and smoke, wind, hail, explosions, theft, vandalism, falling objects, water damage and more.

Other Structures
Similar to the dwelling protection, other structures on your property are protected as well. This includes fences, separate garages, car ports, pools and more.

Reconstruction Value
Every policy has a valuation of the reconstruction costs of your home. If your house burns down, this is the cost of the payout to build another home. Most quoting tools spend the most time calculating this value. The quoted value isn't equal to what you paid when you purchased the house; instead it’s based on the current local construction and property costs – the cost of replacement. Some providers may even require a specialist to come to your home for an appraisal.  

Personal Property
The policy reimburses you for the loss of personal property, up to the value set in your policy. You can usually raise or lower this coverage to fit your estimated cost to replace items, but this affects the premium. Also, you should read what isn't protected in this policy. Don’t assume everything you own is covered. Some providers, for example, don't include art or musical instruments in this policy but require you to add such coverage separately.

Loss of Use
If your home becomes unliveable, the policy pays for you to live elsewhere while the home is being repaired.

Personal Liability
If someone gets hurt on your property, this pays for the legal fees if you are sued for damages and found responsible.

Medical Payments
If someone is hurt on your property or hurt by a pet, this coverage pays for their medical bills.

What does homeowners insurance not cover?

Standard policies protect your home from damage caused by natural hazards, like fire, wind, lightning and falling options like trees and hail, but you can't assume it covers damage from everything.

Flood Insurance
If you live in an area with a flood risk greater than 1 percent, your mortgage lender is federally required to have the property insured. In other words, your bank requires you to buy flood insurance, either from the National Flood Insurance Program or through your insurance provider. If the risk is less than 1 percent, but there is still a probability of flooding, coverage isn't required, but it is strongly recommended, and some lenders still require it.

Earthquake Insurance
Earthquake coverage is usually purchased as an endorsement to your homeowners insurance. This means you don't purchase it separately as you do with flood insurance, but it's added to your existing policy. Adding this coverage is completely optional, though your mortgage lender may require it if you live in a high-risk area. That said, the NAIC estimates 90 percent of the population lives in an area where earthquakes pose some risk, though some areas like California are at a much higher risk.

Business Usage
If you use your home for business purposes, even if you just use one room for an office, a standard policy doesn't protect any items related to your business usage – laptops, computers, monitors and other business-related items. You’ll need to purchase additional coverage for business usage. In addition, if you run a daycare in your home, you're required to purchase more liability coverage in addition to business insurance coverage.

Are you required to have homeowners insurance?

Generally speaking, if you take out a mortgage to buy your home, you are required to buy homeowners insurance. From the vantage point of a lender, it’s a risk to lend you such a large chunk of money. This insurance, simply put, is the lender’s way to safeguard its financial investment.

Homeowners insurance is most commonly lumped together with your mortgage payment and other fees, such as property taxes, though in certain cases it may be separate. Even if your lender doesn’t outright mention requiring insurance, it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. If you plan on buying a house, call up a few local insurance agencies to get estimates. It’s best to get this done as soon as possible.

Also, keep in mind that if your policy lapses or you end up without coverage for any reason,  your lender may issue a force-placed policy on you. This can even happen if your lender decides the insurance you purchased is not enough. Force-placed policies, also called lender-placed insurance, are much more expensive since you are seen as high risk to the the lender.

Homeowners insurance can cover you for damage to your home and belonging, as well as personal liability. Finding the right insurer is important, that's why Assurance helps you by getting quotes from home insurers in your area.View Deal