You can’t prevent natural disasters from taking place, nor can you make your home entirely fireproof or burglar-proof.
The loss of a home and the possessions within it can leave behind a psychic wound you’ll feel as deeply as any financial downfall, and quite possibly more so.
Fortunately for new and prospective California homeowners, the average premium on homeowners insurance California residents purchased in 2016 was $1,000 (less expensive than 31 other states!) per data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
While weather-related hazards such as floods, earthquakes, and wildfires will drive up costs in certain areas of California, and premiums will always vary based on the value of an individual property, you can mitigate any higher-than-average premium costs by finding the ideal insurer for your economic needs.
If you’re currently searching for the best homeowners insurance California has to offer, we’ve got you covered with a closer look at both major, industry-giant providers and lesser-known insurers who may nonetheless be perfect for your situation.
5 Best Homeowners Insurance Companies in California
In a place as big as the Golden State, there are obviously numerous national (and multinational) insurers as well as a cornucopia of smaller regional and local agencies.
Our team took the time to examine the coverage offerings, costs, claims process, business reputation, and consumer sentiment for more than 50 insurance companies serving California.
Out of those, the following five stood out as the providers that, in no specific order, are the most worthy of your consideration:
Founded in 1922, the Bloomington, Illinois-based insurer is about to close in on a century of doing business, and during its many decades of operation it has become the largest provider in the U.S.
Buyers of California home insurance policies will specifically deal with State Farm General Insurance Company, which held the biggest market share of homeowners insurance underwritten in the state during 2017 at 8.07 percent.
State Farm offers all standard homeowners coverage options for California residents: protection for your dwelling and its contents, liability insurance for injuries others sustain on your property (including medical bills), “other structures” protection for detached garages, and coverage for additional living expenses (e.g., staying in a hotel or traveling as a result of covered-loss damage).
You can obtain supplemental coverage for extra cost, including water backup insurance and property protection not subject to depreciation.
State Farm also offers policyholder discounts if you have other insurance from the company, install certain fire and burglar detection devices, or voluntarily choose a higher-than-required deductible.
State Farm’s reputation has suffered among consumers in recent years, as well as watchdog organizations like the Better Business Bureau.
It’s not BBB-accredited, and its rating from that institution recently fell due to recent government actions taken against the company.
That said, if you do your research regarding the individual State Farm agent you work with, you’re more likely to have a positive experience.
Additionally, State Farm came in fifth overall in JD Power’s 2018 Customer Satisfaction Survey of insurance providers.
Farmers got its start in the heart of southern California and keeps its headquarters there, right on Wilshire in Los Angeles.
Started as an outfit selling auto insurance to farmers and ranchers in 1928, it expanded rapidly over the years and now is one of the biggest insurers in the U.S., taking 7.8 percent of the property and casualty coverage market in its home state during 2017 alone.
You can purchase all of the standard varieties of homeowners insurance from Farmers: dwelling, home contents, and liability.
The company offers these coverages at three tiers: Standard, Enhanced, and Next Generation (usually called Premier, but not in California).
Your coverage limits increase as you move up the ladder of policy tiers.
While costs for a Farmers homeowners insurance plan vary depending on which coverage level you choose, certain discounts may be available regardless of tier.
These include premium reductions for being claim-free for three years, a deductible that drops by $50 each year you stay with Farmers, and a lower rate on all coverage if you bundle multiple policy types.
These are likely a factor behind the company’s below-average NAIC complaint ratio (0.54) and A+ rating from the BBB.
Headquartered in Boston, Liberty Mutual is the U.S.’s third-largest property and casualty insurer.
It also holds the fourth-largest market share of property insurance in California at 4.72 percent in 2017.
You can obtain all standard coverages from a Liberty Mutual homeowners policy: the home itself, personal possessions, liability, and additional living expenses.
If willing to pay a little extra, added coverage for valuable items, water backup or sump-pump overflow, and inflation protection are also available.
Discounts apply under numerous circumstances, including but not limited to the following: bundling multiple policies, switching to the company while insured by another carrier, outfitting your house with fire and burglar protection, or being a recent homebuyer.
Due to the company’s longevity, it has accreditation and a strong A- rating from the BBB.
That said, recent government actions against the business, including one settled with the office of the San Diego District Attorney, have damaged its reputation, and while these may be aberrations rather than the norm, some wariness is understandable.
Travelers (founded 1853) offers homeowners policies to California residents as well as auto, specialty vehicle, and umbrella insurance.
Headquartered in New York City and Hartford, Connecticut, the company accounted for 3.53 percent of the California homeowners insurance market in 2017, and is one of the largest carries in the U.S.
Travelers offer a strong complement of coverage types in its standard policies – all of the basic property, liability and additional expenses protections plus coverages for detached garages, sheds, and other structures.
There are also some intriguing supplemental coverages, including protection against identity theft, water backup insurance, and added items protection for jewelry and similar valuables.
The discounts are mostly what you’d expect, including bundling and protective-device cost reductions, but there’s also a deal for policyholders with LEED-certified green homes.
Coupled with California’s tax credits for green home improvements, this could save you quite a bit.
While BBB-accredited and rated A+, numerous complaints against Travelers (360 in the past 3 years) appear on its headquarters-location page, and its NAIC complaint ratio was a high 2.58 in 2016.
On the other hand, the company responds to nearly all of these directly on the website, an effort not taken by numerous comparable insurers.
Although it only serves 44 of California’s 58 counties, CSAA still made its way into the NAIC market-share rankings for the state in 2017, representing 3.40 percent of the property coverage written during that year.
Chances are you know CSAA better as part of the American Automobile Association, whom you might’ve called for roadside assistance in dire moments, but they also offer homeowners insurance policies, and if you’re already part of a California AAA, it’s worth giving their products a closer look, as it could lead to notable savings.
Your home, on-premises structures, and possessions, including, notably, roof damage, are covered by CSAA homeowners insurance policies, along with liability and loss-of-use living expenses.
There aren’t any add-ons available, however.
Discounts are industry-standard, including deals for being a new homeowner, bundling separate CSAA policies, staying with the company for several years, and installing fire- and theft-protection features.
Additionally, if you’re a AAA member 50 years old or older, you can save up to 12 percent on premiums.
The AAA is not BBB-accredited, nor is CSAA, and there have been a considerable number of complaints against it.
That said, CSAA has an A- rating from the BBB and a below-average NAIC complaint ratio (0.92).
Your experience with this insurer will depend on your relationship with your agent, so if you have a close bond with AAA already, this may be a great option for home coverage.
Additional Homeowners Insurance in California
Depending on where you live in the Golden State, you may want to purchase one or more of the following supplemental policies:
- Flood insurance: California’s 840-mile coastline means those living close to the shore could be in danger of flooding if tropical storms or hurricanes strike. Contact the National Flood Insurance Program to review your options.
- Earthquake insurance: The San Andreas Fault and other less famous tectonic landmarks mean earthquakes are a real possibility in numerous areas of California. Determine if your property is in a quake-prone area using the California Geological Survey’s online tool before committing to the price of earthquake insurance, though.
3 Tips for Buying Homeowners Insurance in California
It’s never wise to put all of your insurance eggs in one basket; you need to shop around and compare services.
Keep the following additional pointers in mind during your coverage search:
- Consider environmentally efficient upgrades: California’s energy and utilities commissions offer various rebates for renovations that make your home more sustainable, and some insurance carriers offer additional discounts for the same reason.
- Deal with agents and brokers carefully: The California Department of Insurance enforces certain regulations regarding how insurers, their agents, and independent brokers can sell services to you. Read up on these so you know to look for any unethical behavior.
- Don’t forget the FAIR Plan: If you have trouble finding coverage, the CDI-supported FAIR Plan is available to all eligible California property owners. This safety net doesn’t have as much protection as private-sector companies’ plans do, but it’ll reliably cover your home and belongings if all else fails.