Forum Thread

Home owner's insurance-- 1st home and overwhelmed. Advice?

lulu47 300 518 October 24, 2015 at 02:22 PM
Is there a company you strongly do/don't recommend?
What specifics should I be looking for or avoid?

FYI there is hail/snow here, house was built in 2009, and I am bundling car insurance with it for a discount.

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#2
You really just need to shop around and get quotes from different companies. You'll want to make sure you're not underinsured - so get quotes for replacement cost of your home, as well as the other (gosh, I can't think now what it's called, cash value or something?). You might consider getting a liability umbrella since you may bundle your home and cars. If you have items like jewelry, art, collections that are valuable - those items may need a rider on your policy with extra coverage.

We have State Farm for our home and cars and have had them for more than 20 years. We have a great relationship with our agent - she has really been great thru the years explaining everything, helping us with claims etc We do periodically look around to see if it's cheaper if we moved our policies elsewhere and for our area, our house/cars, there hasn't been a drastic cost difference and we like our agent and the customer service we've received - so we've stayed with State Farm.

You might just want to get online and do some reading too...there is a lot of good information out there - once you start reading about it, you'll feel more comfortable.
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Last edited by KPS October 24, 2015 at 02:58 PM
#3
It depends. I find that buying your insurance separately saves me money. I have some unique things going on though. I drive an old car, I live in a mobile home and I own rental property. My home in Texas is insured by American Strategic Insurance. I tried to find something cheaper, but it doesn't exist in Texas. On my old mobile home I am using National Security because nobody would insure a 30 year old mobile home. I would use ASI, but they do not insure in Oklahoma.

https://www.americanstrategic.com/

http://www.nationalsecuritygroup....fault.aspx
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#4
KPS gave some good advice regarding making sure you're not underinsured. You shouldn't have a problem with that with Amica or USAA, but other lower quality insurers love to underinsure because it allows them to quote you a lower price. However, this can end up in a nightmare for you if your home ever suffers a total loss. So, when shopping around, make sure you're comparing apples-to-apples regarding coverage amounts. Just a heads up, the correct coverage amount for your home will probably end up being a decent amount more than it's appraised value. Don't let that alarm you. That's the way it should be to truly cover you for a total loss.

The first two companies you should try to get homeowner's insurance with are Amica Mutual and USAA (if you're eligible). If you can get on with either of those, I'd jump on it.

With homeowner's insurance, your number one criteria in choosing an insurer should be customer service, not price. You want to make sure the insurer is there for you if and when you need them. It's false savings if a cheaper company is not there for you when you need them. Check out Consumer Reports' and J.D. Powers and Associates' ratings - you might be surprised at which popular, big name insurers rank in the middle or bottom of the pack. Amica and USAA are consistently rated the number one (they go back and forth with each other) best insurers in the nation year after year after year by both Consumer Reports and J.D. Powers and Associates.

One thing to remember about both Amica and USAA is they are mutual companies which means they pay out a dividend check at the end of the year based on how much "extra" they have left over at the end of the year. This dividend check makes your effective cost even lower than the quote they initially give you.

Last, set your deductible as high as they'll let you. This will accomplish a couple of things. It will deter you from making small claims - which you don't ever want to make anyway as it can either increase your premiums or get you dropped. And it saves you money.
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Last edited by Brian1 October 25, 2015 at 12:15 AM
#5
Here is a list of all the players in Texas. They have a great list on the state website. If you notice ASI LLOYDS is number 9. I'd never heard of them, but they are really cheap and good.

http://www.tdi.texas.gov/company/...#homeowner
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#6
Quote from truckinusa View Post :
Here is a list of all the players in Texas. They have a great list on the state website. If you notice ASI LLOYDS is number 9. I'd never heard of them, but they are really cheap and good.

http://www.tdi.texas.gov/company/...#homeowner
Keep in mind that list is ranked according to premiums collected and market share, not customer service.
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#7
Quote from Brian1 View Post :
Keep in mind that list is ranked according to premiums collected and market share, not customer service.
On the other hand State Farm has 26% of all the business so they must be doing something right? I just don't care to pay their high advertising costs and whatever else makes them more expensive. USAA only does business with military familes and offers a moderately cheaper rate because they have determined that military people are less likely to engage in risky behavior that will result in a claim. The savings is just OK in my opinion. For one stop shopping USAA is probably the best you can get along with State Farm. I had Amica for a while on my car insurance and they were incredibly cheap for full coverage in Texas, but they do not care to do business in Oklahoma and their rates are outrageous here.
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#8
Quote from truckinusa View Post :
On the other hand State Farm has 26% of all the business so they must be doing something right? I just don't care to pay their high advertising costs and whatever else makes them more expensive.
You nailed it. They are good at something: marketing. State Farm ranks in the middle of the pack with Consumer Reports and in the lower third with J.D. Power and Associates.
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#9
It has been my experience that you need to shop around for insurance every year in order to get the best rates. Having an independent agent you trust helps. A lot of companies offer good rates initially and then just whack you with premium increases each year so that after a few years you are really be screwed over.

This happened to me as I was with one insurer for my Home\Auto\Umbrella policy for years. Then one year the auto rate jumps a significant amount more than usual (no accidents or points). I called and they just gave me the usual about approved rate increases and the like. So I went shopping and saved myself a lot of money and found out I could save on the other policies as well. All with another reputable firm. Bottom line, my old insurer got greedy and hoped I would just pay the increase. When I called them to cancel the policies after I switched over, suddenly they were able to more or less match the new rates from the new insurer. So I asked them why they did not do this when I called before and why I was given the run around about them not being able to do anything? No answer. Told them to go take a hike as I had already switched over.


Bottom line, go to an independent insurance agent and have them run you quotes each and every year. That is how you get the best deal. Stick to top rated insurers, but feel free to switch from one company to another if the rate is right.


As to the insurance itself, as some have noted, make sure you compare apples to apples and have the right amount and type of coverage. Bundle the policies if possible to get better deals. Take advantage of discounts for Defensive Driving Training course you can take online in a few hours for a nominal $20-$30 fee in some states, discounts for home security central monitoring, having a fire extinguisher on each floor, car alarm, being a member of certain trade and alumni organizations, etc. that many insurers offer.

My 2 cents.
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#10
Quote from truckinusa View Post :
On the other hand State Farm has 26% of all the business so they must be doing something right? I just don't care to pay their high advertising costs and whatever else makes them more expensive. USAA only does business with military familes and offers a moderately cheaper rate because they have determined that military people are less likely to engage in risky behavior that will result in a claim. The savings is just OK in my opinion. For one stop shopping USAA is probably the best you can get along with State Farm. I had Amica for a while on my car insurance and they were incredibly cheap for full coverage in Texas, but they do not care to do business in Oklahoma and their rates are outrageous here.

Not endorsing any particular firm, but they all more or less spend on marketing from State Farm, to MetLife to Geico to Progressive, etc. And they all more or less run the same game to some degree of not want to pay unless they have to. Now of course some are better than others but imo, I would focus on them from a reputation and rates perspective and not really worry about how much advertising they do.

Certain insurers concentrate on certain areas of insurance more than others which is why they might offer good home policies but lousy auto policies or vice versa. Good home insurance but bad dwelling policy rates, etc. It is all part of the actuarial and marketing game and from a consumer standpoint, pretty much meaningless imo. If company X is too high for home coverage, go to someone else who is more reasonable. Shop around and find the best rate with a reputable company (i.e., one that pays out in a timely manner). I really do not care how much they advertise. It is really irrelevant as I try to find the best deal and if their rates are not competitive all the advertising in the world is not going to make any difference.
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#11
Don't forget, Costco offers home insurance. Or rather they have business connections to insurance providers. I bought a home recently and ended up getting my insurance through AAA. For some reason they were considerably cheaper than others in the area. Probably wouldn't be the same in your area.

Anyway, next time I'm shopping for insurance (probably 6-8 months from now once I'm more settled into the house) I'll probably contact Costco and see who they work with.
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#12
Quote from inlinefourpower View Post :
Don't forget, Costco offers home insurance. Or rather they have business connections to insurance providers. I bought a home recently and ended up getting my insurance through AAA. For some reason they were considerably cheaper than others in the area. Probably wouldn't be the same in your area.

Anyway, next time I'm shopping for insurance (probably 6-8 months from now once I'm more settled into the house) I'll probably contact Costco and see who they work with.
Thanks for the help everyone! I ended up going with Costco, they work with Ameriprise.
I liked that they only had one deductible, not an additional one for wind & hail for example. My coverage was higher too. Also, the person talking to me was very knowledgeable unlike a few clueless ones from other companies.

I ended up not bundling my home owner's insurance with my car. In my case car was more expensive with Ameriprise. However, it would have been cheaper to bundle with other companies so I think it's worth comparing if anyone else is in the market and reading this.

My deductible is somewhere in the middle. I could have gone higher (and would have based on other quotes I got) but with Ameriprise the savings in going higher were minimal.

So ready for this process to be over. Close on Friday : ) Then all the tools/home deals on SD will finally apply to me. woo!
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