Theo Thimou, Clark.com
A 2017 ranking of home insurance companies shows that just focusing on what you pay in premiums isn’t necessarily the smartest idea.
Read more: Best and worst auto insurance companies
Homeowners insurance isn’t just about premium
Consumer Reports is out with a new update that names the best and worst home insurers in the business.
Before we get into this, keep in mind that the best does not necessarily mean the one with the most affordable premium!
Instead of focusing on price alone, the magazine asked more than 7,000 of its readers to rank their insurers on six metrics:
- Ease of reaching an agent to handle the claim.
- Agent courtesy.
- Promptness of response and attentiveness in handling the claim.
- Simplicity of the claims process (number of steps, amount of work etc.).
- Damage amount: Satisfaction with company’s estimate of dollar amount of damages.
- Timely payment: Satisfaction with timely payment by insurer.
So without further ado…
Top 10 best home insurers
1. Amica Insurance
2. USAA Property & Casualty
3. Erie Insurance Group
5. Auto-Owners Insurance Group of Companies
6. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company
7. The Hartford Financial Services Group
8. Liberty Mutual
10. Farmers Insurance
Money expert Clark Howard is a big fan of both Amica Mutual and USAA in particular.
“Amica and USAA may not have the best premiums,” Clark says. “But remember my rule, homeowners insurance is only for use in a catastrophic situation — so it’s crucial to have the best coverage in case something does happen.”
To lower the cost of going with a top-rated insurer, try taking as high of a deductible as you can handle and that your mortgage holder will allow you to have. That will both lower your premium and discourage your from unnecessarily making small claims.
Do not go with the $500 deductible of yesteryear. It’s not worth it!
5 worst home insurers
Now that you’ve seen who the readers of Consumer Reports say are the best, here’s who they report the least satisfaction with:
Be careful of homeowners policy exclusions
Yahoo! Finance recently had a list of weird exclusions some insurers are now doing. Some make sense – like dog attacks. But other things are unexpected, like trampolines not being covered.
Other exclusions include expensive jewelry (you will need additional rider if you have a large amount of jewelry).
On the question of mold, that’s no longer covered by many homeowner insurance policies. Mold became a big issue, particularly in Florida, and it’s been cut out of the picture step by step, insurer by insurer.
Sewer backup is often not included in homeowner insurance policies. Clark always recommends that you buy the inexpensive rider from your insurer and add it to your policy. If it does happen to you, you want to know you are in fact covered.
Fire is still covered. That seems to be a constant year over year, which is why people sometimes refer to homeowners policies as “fire policies.”
Flood insurance is one of those things that people routinely think they’re covered for under their homeowners policy.
What will protect you in the event of flooding is an auto insurance policy with comprehensive coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute. But because comprehensive coverage is not mandatory, not everyone has it.
So here’s a word to the wise: If you do have a comp policy, double-check with your auto insurer to make sure damage from flooding is covered.
Your policy will cover this — but you should never use it!
Home insurers are great about offering add-ons to your policy that seem in theory like great conveniences at a great price. But using these seemingly benign “benefits” could marginalize you in the insurance marketplace and result in jacked-up rates!
Your home insurance policy may have coverage for electronics, including your cell phone, in case they get fried by a sudden electrical surge or you somehow break them.
But using this insurance can be too high voltage for your wallet.
Insurers are likely to report the use of cell phone insurance on your C.L.U.E. report as a claim, a little-known industry database that compiles all your interactions with insurers. That will hamper you when you go to shop with other insurers. And, your own insurer may use that “claim” as a justification for hiking your premium or dropping your home insurance coverage altogether!
Maybe you’re tempted to get cell phone insurance through your wireless carrier instead. That option is preferable to getting it through your home insurer — though there is a more affordable way to get better coverage.
If you really want to save money, check out these cheaper alternatives to cell insurance through your carrier.