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Getting quotes from insurance carriers can feel like playing the slots in a casino. Will you be played or win? Will you receive over-the-top quotes that offer what you need or low ball you just to lure away your money?

Aligning the information from so many different insurance quotes to make a fair comparison is challenging. Making sure you are getting the insurance you need at the best price is easier with a little help when you are in search of homeowners insurance.

Learning how to compare quotes is the key to making the best decision. Use our FREE tool above to get started!

Fielding calls and emails after putting in for a quote is akin to a part-time job. A few excellent ways to narrow down the competition include:

  1. Only following through with insurance carriers who have excellent credit ratings, such as Moodys
  2. Making a list of what you need and measuring all quotes against your wish list
  3. Evaluating the level of customer service, rapport-building you make with their insurance agents
  4. Researching customer claim experiences
  5. Researching efficiency of claims processing and payment

Next Steps

Most of the above items can be found online with fairly quick Internet searches. What does require more legwork is making your own list of what you need. Beyond making your wish list is another facet of the decision-making process.

It requires you understand the language of homeowners insurance. That helps you read your policy and the policy declaration, which will accompany the proposed and actual homeowners insurance policy.

How to Read Insurance Language

A sample insurance declaration and accompanying definitions are included at the New York State Department of Financial Services. It has a lot of self-explanatory information, such as insurance agent contact information, the policyholders' names and addresses, policy number and even the premium dollar amount.

Though, every detail on the document tells the insurance company a part of your personal story. The story tell the insurance company how much or little to charge for your insurance policy.

Note that it includes location information such as county, insured group, the fire department and how far to the nearest fire house. It includes information about the year your home was built and the type of construction.

The policyholders have a credit history. It indicates how likely they are to renege on financial obligations, or historically how well they have been able to keep up with payments. If you have excellent credit, the insurance company is reassured that you will pay your insurance premiums.

The insurance company makes money by collecting premiums without having to pay out claims. That means a couple with two incomes is a better risk for it than an individual, especially if both are working adults.

Add onto that information that neither of the adults has ever made a homeowners insurance claim and they are more likely to pay lower premiums than a couple living across the street in an identical house.

If you just moved to a home that has firewalls, then it is better protected from devastation from fire than an unprotected tinderbox. Likewise, living near a quick-response and excellent fire department makes you a better insurance risk, which also translates to lower insurance costs for you.

There are a handful of areas that list savings. For instance, having an alarm gives this customer a two percent discount on the policy premium. Fire and safety monitoring are additional ways to save.

Home Insurance Terms for Newbies

If you are very new to insurance, the premium is the amount you pay for having an insurance policy. Homeowners insurance policies are generally for a term of 12 months. The deductible is the amount you pay to file a claim for benefits.

Limits define the maximum you may receive if you have to file a claim for that portion of coverage.

Claims are just that -- a claim that there is a damage or injury that occurred and that is covered by the policy. In response the the insurance company sends out an insurance adjuster to check the veracity of your claim and how much the damage is.

Further definitions are structural or possessions. For instance, maybe a guest slips coming up the front steps to your home and threatens to sue you. You would file an injury claim, which would come from your liability protection. If a tree falls on the house, that would be more structural and possibly include some loss of personal possessions.

Note that flood insurance is not included in homeowners insurance policies. You buy it separately from the government and only qualify for it if you live in a flood prone area. The government keeps track of flood planes, or areas prone to flooding.

Deciding How Much Coverage to Buy

The mortgage company requires you to have coverage if you still have a loan to pay on your home. Otherwise, they should not factor into your determination of coverage. The fact is if you have to make a claim, the worst case scenario is a total loss. That would mean the house would have to be rebuilt.

Hire a house appraiser and even a contractor to make estimates of how much it costs today to rebuild your house. That means that you will know how much coverage to buy. If you live in a hurricane prone area, be sure to have hurricane wind damage protection as well.

Now you have the information you need to compare quotes more effectively. Rather than look just at the policy premium you are quoted, compare all the details. If you find that the premiums are all too high, try increasing the deductible. Though, make sure that if you needed to file a claim you would have the money to pay the deductible.

Otherwise, you are ready to make a good comparison.

Another advantage to comparing quotes online is you can plug in different information to see what saves you money. For instance, if you have been considering investing in a fire and security monitoring system but are not sure if 20 dollars a month is too expensive, check your quotes.

Plug in that you do have a fire and security system. Try a quote without that advantage, and see what the difference in premiums is. If the system saves you from having to rebuild your home that might be compelling enough reason to get the new system installed. Plus, you will save money on your premiums.

Special Insurance Considerations

If you have plans to insure any of the following, pay attention:

  1. A pool
  2. A second home
  3. Plans to rent your home
  4. Are not going to live in your home, or leave it vacant

If any of these situations apply to you, you need to let any insurance companies you are considering know of these scenarios. Pool owners have special guidelines, such as enclosing your pool in a fence, so children cannot wander into your yard and drown while you are not home, for instance.

For homeowners who are insuring a second home, there are considerations such as leaving the premises either rented out or vacant for lengthy periods of time. For instance, in the South there's freezing temperatures and if there's no one to leave water dripping it causes risk that pipes will explode. This goes for leaving your home vacant as well. Same considerations.

If you are going to rent your house out and move into your vacation home, then you need to let the carrier know that too. It is a different type of policy you might need, such as a landlord policy, which covers your fixtures and structure only. Talk to an insurance agent who can answer your specific questions.

Other Ways to Save

Beyond increasing the deductible and having safety and security features, consider some simple ways to save. Paying your premium in full usually saves some money rather than paying monthly or quarterly installments.

Most carriers provide multiple lines of insurance coverage, or a bunch of different insurance products. If you buy more than one product from the same insurer, you might be eligible for multi-line savings discounts. See what the different carriers offer you. It's part of the comparison.

Take the time to learn insurance language to compare quotes more effectively. Make sure the insurance companies have the means to pay claims by evaluating their credit worthiness. Be honest about your living situation and plans for your home.

Buy plenty of coverage because your home might just be your biggest financial investment you own. You have a lot to protect and stand a lot to lose if you do not take a proactive stance in buying coverage.

Be sure to use the FREE comparison quote tool below to start your search for home insurance.

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