The 5 Best Oregon Homeowners Insurance Companies
Oregon is known for it’s breathtaking scenery and luscious forests. However, the main reason for all that green grass — lots and lots of rain — can also spell danger for homes. If you live in one of the major population centers on the western side of the state, your home could be invaded by mold and even be susceptible to water damage from backed up drains. And when all that vegetation dries out in the summer, wildfires can run rampant. In fact, Oregon ranked 5th in the nation in 2015 with 685,809 acres destroyed by wildfires.
All that being said, Oregon’s homeowner insurance rates are quite reasonably priced, coming in at just $568 – only half the national average of $1,096. The main reason is that, despite the many wildfires, less than 10 percent of the state’s homeowners claims are due to major catastrophes. Losses that lead to claims are usually isolated events that didn’t affect hundreds or thousands of residents at the same time.
From rich farmland to high desert, Oregon has it all. This means a homeowners policy (and its price) in Bend will probably look a whole lot different than one in Portland. That’s why you need to get a quote for yourself, and you can use the tool below to get started.
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Deciding which company should insure your home is a lot more complicated than simply choosing the one with the cheapest premium. Factors like claim satisfaction ratings, customer service, educational tools (so you know what you are getting into), and financial stability should also be considered. Keeping those factors at the forefront, we took the same approach as our national review when we graded the top five providers of homeowners insurance in Oregon. We clicked through a bunch of online quotes and talked to more than a few local agents to determine our overall winner: State Farm.
Oregon Homeowners Insurance Reviews
State Farm isn’t just the largest provider of homeowners insurance in the state, by our reckoning, it’s also the best. It tied Liberty Mutual and Country Financial for the highest claim satisfaction ratings from J.D. Power, while it had the highest customer service and claims satisfaction ratings from Consumer Reports.
One of State Farm’s most admirable attributes is its local agents. Each one we talked to was friendly and professional, which set it apart from companies like Farmers (which lacked the personal touch) and Country Financial (which lacked professionalism). When we called to test the quote process as if we were considering the purchase of a home in Gresham, the agent quickly gave us a quote and even included coverage for water and sewage backup damage without us having to ask. The best part is that it would only cost us $12 a year (compared to the average $100 everybody else charges) to get that extra coverage for our home.
Thankfully, the great local agents make up for the lack of educational tools on State Farm’s website. And while we had the easiest time getting a quote over the phone, the online quote tool didn’t have all the bells and whistles that Allstate’s did. Since customer service and claim satisfaction ratings are the biggest concern for us, State Farm was clearly the best option for homeowners insurance in Oregon.
Allstate’s mix of great discounts and superior online tools is what propelled it to the second spot on our list. The Common & Costly Claims tool is only one example of the company’s great approach to educating its customers, and it really went the extra mile in creating an easy-to-use, detailed online quote tool.
When we called up a local agent to get a quote, we weren’t immediately able to connect with her that afternoon. However, she promptly called us back the next morning and, before long, we had a personalized quote waiting in our inbox. While the extra coverage for water and sewage back-up was a little pricey ($97 a year), all the discounts she gave us made up that difference.
Allstate’s only major concern is that it only got a 3-star rating for claims satisfaction from J.D. power, while Liberty Mutual, State Farm, and Country Financial all got four stars. When everything was factored in, Allstate barely beat out Liberty Mutual for our second pick.
Liberty Mutual is a solid choice all around the board. It’s customer service is great, it’s claim and customer satisfaction rating is mostly on-par with State Farm, but it doesn’t really stand out in any one area. Our quote was a little more expensive than our other options, and the extra coverage for water damage was $155 a year.
Liberty Mutual has a different feel from companies like State Farm and Allstate. In a city like Portland, it only has two or three offices which are more like “hubs” than local agents’ offices. When we called in to get a quote, everyone was nice and professional, but not quite as friendly and professional as State Farm.
Overall, we have nothing really bad to say about Liberty Mutual, but we also can’t point to any one thing that it does better than anyone else. However, we do like that it covers mold damage up to $5,000 while State Farm and Allstate doesn’t. At the end of the day, Liberty Mutual is simply a good third choice and a helpful reference point when comparing quotes.
We really wanted to recommend Country Financial as our first or second choice, but we simply weren’t able to. Although it was left out of Consumer Report’s rankings, it tied State Farm and Liberty Mutual in J.D. Power’s claim satisfaction scores, and even received a 4-star rating overall (compared to everyone else’s three-star rating). It’s website took a sleek, modern approach to clearly outlining its coverages and discounts.
All the signs were positive until we started testing the quote process. As it turned out, getting an online quote with Country Financial wasn’t possible for us. It simply referred us to a quote request page where we were assured that we would soon be contacted via email. That never happened. Our personal experience was also further marred when we tried to contact a local agent. One agent was away on vacation, while another office didn’t pick up the phone during business hours, and respond to our message the next day either.
When we finally did get in contact with someone that could give us a quote, there was a distinct lack of professionalism on display. The quote process took twice as long as State Farm’s (20 minutes compared to 10 for a general quote) and we didn’t even get a reply when we emailed the agent with follow-up questions later that day.
Overall, we are still recommending Country Financial due to it’s high marks by J.D. Power and great website, but we do have our reservations. Our hope is that our experience was just a fluke.
Farmers has the most optional coverages to choose from, but other than that, it doesn’t really stand out. It’s website is average, and its claim and customer satisfaction scores were comparable to Allstate’s, but inferior to the rest.
Our quote experience with Farmers was fairly unique: when we used the online tool to get a quote we were immediately called by a representative from a call center (we were required to give our phone number when getting the quote). While this could have been a positive experience, the rep wasn’t very friendly and was somewhat pushy.
Our customer service experience wasn’t terrible, and the other factors considered weren’t overly negative either, we just weren’t very impressed. In sum, Farmers is good enough to be on our list, but we do recommend calling the other companies first.
If you served in the military, or you have a close family member who did, you are eligible for membership in USAA. However, we didn’t evaluate it since it’s not available to all Oregonians. It is consistently praised by its customers, so it might be worth your time to investigate this option if you are eligible.
Am I Covered?
Cannabis (Marijuana) Losses
There’s no doubt that the Cannabis industry is growing. In fact, Fortune estimates that it will be a 6.7 billion dollar industry in 2016. Since Oregon is one of the four states where recreational marijuana is currently legal, it owns a good size piece of that pie. As more and more people experiment with growing marijuana for themselves (Oregonians can grow up to 4 plants for personal use), an important question is raised: What happens if my $300 plant is destroyed or stolen? Will my insurance cover that loss?
Since legalized marijuana is still so new, it’s still a grey area with many insurers. For instance, in the sample State Farm policy we were given, “contraband, or any property used in the course of illegal consumption, possession, import, export or trade” is not covered. Since marijuana is still not legal federally, a difficulty arises when determining how your insurer views your plant. Is it illegal or not?
This question was raised in a court of law two separate times in the last few years. The first was when a resident of Hawaii lost her medical marijuana plant. The insurance company refused to cover the loss since the federal government considered it “contraband.” In this case, the judge sided with USAA and disallowed her claim. More recently, however, when a Colorado company’s growing facility was inundated by ash and smoke from a nearby wildfire, it’s insurance company did not want to pay for the lost crops. In this case, the court didn’t allow the insurance company to classify the marijuana plants as “contraband.”
While we were told by Liberty Mutual’s in-house underwriters that “under no circumstances” would the company cover a marijuana loss, State Farm’s language is a bit more ambiguous. There will surely be more court cases in the future as the industry continues to grow. Until then, don’t count on getting a check from your insurance company if your marijuana plant is damaged or stolen.
Because of the wet climate in the western part of the state, mold can be a problem for some homeowners. Unfortunately most insurers consider mold a long-term problem that arises due to a homeowner’s negligence. While that may be the case in some situations, other times it may be out of your control. Since Liberty Mutual was the only one out of our top three to cover mold damage, you may want to purchase a policy through that company if mold is a concern for you.
In early 2016, there was a report that was featured by many news outlets that suggested that the Pacific Northwest could be due for “The Big One” – a magnitude 8.0 or greater earthquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone just off the Pacific coast. This type of earthquake could result in tsunamis and major earthquake damage. The report was all over social media, and many residents were shaken by the possibility of such devastation. Since then, talk of “The Big One” has died down, but many people are still concerned.
It’s important to know that your regular policy does not cover earthquake damage or any damage caused by “moving of the earth” (including landslides). While there’s no reason to panic, if having one of your largest investments covered for earthquake damage will help you sleep better at night, it’s worth your while to get a quote for earthquake insurance from your provider.
The National Flood Insurance Program provides flood insurance for the whole country – it’s not covered (or even available) through your regular insurance provider. Since the risk of flooding is very specific to the area you live in, it’s wise to double check whether your home is located in an area of high risk. There’s a handy tool for just that purpose on the National Flood Insurance Program’s website.
The Bottom Line
As a resident of Oregon, you already have a lower-than-average premium, but why stop there? Shop around for a policy that meets your needs at a competitive price. Any of the top three companies we recommended could be right for you, so we think it’s worth your while to get quotes from all three.
Find the best homeowners insurance in your area.
Get a quote by entering your ZIP code and start saving today.