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Table of Contents
- What is a home insurance quote?
- What goes into a home insurance quote?
- What does homeowners insurance cover?
- What information do you need for a homeowners insurance quote?
- How to get a homeowners insurance quote
- How to compare home insurance quotes
- How much does home insurance cost?
- How to get a cheap homeowners insurance quote
A home insurance quote is a personalized estimate of what you’ll pay for a homeowners policy.
Get quotes from at least three companies to make sure you’re getting the right price.
When comparing quotes, make sure all the policies have similar coverage and deductibles.
Shopping for homeowners insurance isn’t something you do every day. Once you’ve picked a policy, you’re likely to stick with it for at least a year. That means it’s important to compare home insurance quotes and make sure you’re getting a good price before you buy.
But price isn’t the only issue — you also want a policy that will meet your needs if disaster strikes. Before you shop, here’s what you’ll want to know.
What is a home insurance quote?
A homeowners insurance quote is an estimate of the price you’ll pay for a policy. It’s based on a broad range of factors, including things like:
The size of your house.
The neighborhood you live in.
Whether a fire station is nearby.
Each company uses its own formula to set prices, so home insurance quotes can vary widely. You boost your chances of finding the best rate by shopping around with multiple companies.
Since a home insurance quote is only an estimate, it may not precisely match the price you end up paying for coverage. In some cases, an inspector may come to your home and determine you need a different amount of coverage, which can change the price.
You generally shouldn’t have to pay to get a home insurance quote.
» MORE: The best homeowners insurance
What goes into a home insurance quote?
Many factors affect your homeowners insurance quote, from the size of your house to the things in your closet. Companies weigh these factors in different ways, so one insurer might be more lenient than another about your credit history or your backyard trampoline.
Here are some of the factors that can affect your homeowners insurance quote.
Rebuilding cost. The more it would cost to rebuild your home if it were destroyed, the higher your home insurance quote is likely to be. The price to rebuild depends on the size of your home and on local material and labor costs.
Age of your home. Older homes generally cost more to insure because the components may have degraded over time and may not meet current building codes.
Materials. Homes built from substances like brick or stone are cheaper to insure than houses made of wood, which is flammable.
Security features. Alarm systems, smoke detectors, deadbolt locks and other safety features can result in lower home insurance quotes because they reduce the likelihood of theft or damage.
Home improvements. Your quote may be higher after you remodel the kitchen, add a deck or make other renovations that increase the cost to rebuild.
Local fire protection. If you’re near a hydrant and fire station, you’ll likely qualify for cheaper home insurance than someone who lives in a more remote area.
Natural disaster risks in your area. Rates are typically higher in areas prone to hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires and other natural risks.
Neighborhood crime rates. If lots of burglaries happen in your neighborhood, your home insurance quotes may be higher.
You and your stuff
Your credit score. In most states, a home insurance quote can be higher for people with blemished credit. Insurers say people with poor credit are more likely to file claims. But in California, Maryland and Massachusetts, companies aren’t allowed to consider credit in setting homeowners insurance prices.
Your pet. House insurance quotes can be high if you own a dog of a breed that’s considered aggressive. That’s because your liability insurance might have to pay out if your dog bites someone and they sue you. Some companies may not be willing to provide coverage at all. Learn more about home insurance and dog bites.
Your belongings. If you own a costly musical instrument, expensive jewelry or other valuables, you may need extra coverage that will increase your house insurance quote.
Your backyard pool or trampoline. Owning these items can raise your home insurance quote because of the risk of injuries they pose. If someone is hurt using them, you could be liable whether you granted permission or not.
Your wood-burning stove. Insurers may see your stove as a fire hazard, particularly if it wasn’t professionally installed or doesn’t meet code requirements.
Your home-based business. Do you work from home? You may need to add coverage to a standard homeowners policy or buy a business owner's policy to cover business-related equipment, inventory and liability.
Your previous claims. If you’ve filed numerous claims in the past, insurers may view you as a risk and charge you higher premiums.
» MORE: What is hazard insurance?
What does homeowners insurance cover?
A homeowners insurance policy is made up of several distinct types of coverage. Some are included automatically, while you can choose to add others, known as endorsements or riders. When you get a homeowners insurance quote, you’ll select the amount of coverage you need and whether you want optional features.
A standard homeowners insurance policy generally includes six types of coverage:
What it does
Covers damage to the home and attached structures, such as a porch.
Enough to rebuild your home.
Covers stand-alone structures on your property, such as a fence or shed.
10% of dwelling coverage.
Pays to repair or replace stolen or damaged belongings.
50% to 70% of dwelling coverage.
Helps pay temporary living expenses while your home is being repaired.
20% of dwelling coverage.
Pays if you injure someone or cause property damage unintentionally or through neglect.
$100,000 to $500,000.
Pays to treat someone injured on your property, regardless of who’s at fault. Also pays if you, a family member or a pet injures someone away from your home.
$1,000 to $5,000.
To learn more, see our guide to homeowners insurance coverage.
What information do you need for a homeowners insurance quote?
When you start shopping around for home insurance quotes, insurers will have questions about you and your home. Here’s some of the information you’ll want to have on hand.
Details about you
Your name, date of birth, marital status and contact information.
Your address and how long you’ve lived there.
The number of people who live with you.
Whether you own a dog or other pets.
Whether you have a home business, including a child-care business.
Whether you need extra coverage for belongings like jewelry or home computers.
Details about your insurance
The name of your most recent homeowners insurance company (if you’ve had a policy before) and the dates of coverage.
Whether you’ve filed any claims in the past five years.
The date you want your homeowners insurance coverage to begin.
How much coverage you want. If you already have insurance, the declarations page of your current policy is a starting point. You can see the coverage and extra features you have now — but be willing to make changes. Before comparing home insurance quotes, it’s smart to reevaluate your needs.
Details about your house
The year the house was built. If it’s an older home, you may also be asked how long ago it was renovated and whether electrical and plumbing systems have been updated.
The square footage of the house, how many stories it has and the style, such as ranch or colonial.
Whether the exterior walls are built with wood, brick, stone or other materials.
The age of the roof and what it’s made of, such as slate, shingles or metal.
The number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
Whether there are features like a garage, fireplace, smart-home technology, burglar alarms or a sprinkler system.
How the home is heated.
Whether there are detached structures like a gazebo or toolshed.
Whether there’s a mortgage on the home.
If you don’t know when your house was built or its square footage, you can probably get these details from your local tax assessor’s office — often through a free online search. Try searching for "tax assessor" or "property records" and the name of your county or city. Many insurers and agents can fill in some of this information once they have the home’s address.
How to get a homeowners insurance quote
When you’re ready to get a homeowners insurance quote, you have several options:
Shop for home insurance quotes online or by phone.
Work with a "captive agent," who represents a single company.
Work with an independent agent or insurance broker.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Home insurance quotes online or by phone
You can get free online homeowners insurance quotes from many companies. If you’re happy with the quote, you can often complete the purchase online. Some insurers let you begin a quote online but send you to an agent to finish the quote over the phone.
When you buy homeowners insurance directly from an insurer without an agent’s help, you can easily adjust coverage and see quotes for yourself. But for more complicated scenarios, speaking to an agent may be a better choice.
Captive insurance agents
A captive agent works for one specific insurance company, such as Allstate, Farmers or State Farm. An agent’s job is to help figure out what policy is best for you and provide a quote. In return, the agent earns a commission — or percentage of your premium — when you buy a policy. Unlike other agents, captive agents might also earn a salary from the insurance company.
The main downside of using a captive agent is that they can offer a quote from only one company.
Independent insurance agents and brokers
If you want to talk through your home insurance options without limiting yourself to one company, consider getting a quote from an independent agent or broker.
Independent agents and brokers work with multiple insurers and can offer a wide range of options and policies to homeowners. Because independent agents work on commission, they may strive to provide you the best customer service possible or steer you toward more expensive policies.
Independent brokers differ from independent agents in that they may charge a broker’s fee and generally must disclose commission rates to customers. This transparency allows you to know exactly how much the broker is making from your business.
How to compare home insurance quotes
Whether you’re working with an agent or on your own, plan on getting at least three quotes. That way you can feel confident you’re getting a good price. When comparing quotes, check that each policy has similar endorsements, deductibles and coverage limits. Here are a few issues to look out for:
How are my belongings covered? Your personal property may be covered on either an “actual cash value” or “replacement cost” basis. With actual cash value, if an item is stolen or destroyed, the insurance company will pay you only what it was worth at the time of the incident. For older items, that may not be enough to buy a brand-new replacement. You may find a policy with replacement cost coverage to be worth paying a little extra for.
Is there more than one deductible? Depending on where you live, your insurance company may charge a separate deductible for certain types of claims such as hurricanes or windstorms. (A deductible is the amount of a claim you’re responsible for.) For example, you may have a $1,000 deductible for most disasters but a 3% deductible for hurricanes. On a house with $300,000 of dwelling coverage, you’d pay for $9,000 of hurricane damage before your insurance company would pay anything. Be sure you’re comfortable with the deductibles on your policy before you buy it.
How strong is the company? An insurer with poor customer service or iffy finances may not offer the support you need in a disaster. To get a sense of each company’s strengths and weaknesses, check out NerdWallet’s home insurance reviews.
How much does home insurance cost?
The average cost of homeowners insurance is $1,784 a year, according to NerdWallet's rate analysis.
Your home insurance quote may be higher or lower than that average, depending on where you live and what it would cost to rebuild your home. Check out the cheapest homeowners insurance in your state.
How to get a cheap homeowners insurance quote
Shopping around is the best way to find the cheapest home insurance quotes you can. Your home is an important investment, so you don’t want to skimp on coverage. But until you compare home insurance prices, you won't know whether you have a good deal.
You can also try these other tips to find lower homeowners insurance rates.
Increase your deductible. If you agree to shoulder more of the cost after a potential claim, you can substantially cut your premiums. Raising your deductible from $1,000 to $2,500 lowers your rate by an average of 12%, according to NerdWallet's rate analysis.
Bundle home and auto insurance policies. Many insurers offer both types of coverage, and you can get discounts for buying car and home insurance from the same company.
Ask for discounts. Price breaks are often available, but they vary from one company to the next, so it’s smart to check. You might get discounts for having a smoke-free home, being retired, buying a new home, signing up for automatic payments or being claims-free, for example.
Make your home safer. Features like smoke detectors, storm shutters and deadbolt locks can result in discounts. You may also get cheaper home insurance quotes if you upgrade outdated heating, plumbing and electrical systems.
Improve your credit. In most states, a good credit history can lead to lower home insurance quotes. Aim to pay your bills on time and keep your debt as low as you can in order to build your credit score.
Drop coverage you no longer need. Review your policy documents and make sure you aren’t paying for coverage you don’t need. If you put extra insurance on that high-end computer a few years ago but it’s not worth much anymore, you’ll save money by reducing your coverage.