The 5 Best Pennsylvania Homeowners Insurance Companies
The average severity of homeowners insurance claims in Pennsylvania is on the rise. Claims grew from $2,604 in 1997 to $8,018 in 2013, an average of 7.9 percent each year, due to a combination of factors, including an uptick in severe weather events, hikes in the costs of building materials, and a higher demand for more complex homes. Construction costs have also risen steadily since 2008. In 2014 alone, average construction costs rose 5.5 percent.
This means that if you haven’t evaluated your homeowners insurance coverage recently, it may no longer be enough. You’ll want to pull out your policy and see if it’ll cover the estimated amount you’d need in today’s dollars. If your policy no longer meets that number, it’s time to upgrade. Repeat this evaluation annually to ensure you always have the coverage you need.
Our Quotes Our fictitious homeowner was a 26-year-old, college-educated male with a steady job seeking $100,000 in coverage for his first home. Keep in mind that quotes will vary significantly based on the location of your home and other factors.
If you’re getting a policy for the first time, you’ll want to find full-coverage insurance at an affordable rate from a company you can trust. We’ve evaluated the top five companies in the state, but quotes are unique to each home and homeowner, so in order to find the best rate for you, you’ll need to get a few quotes and compare the rates.
To make our recommendation for the best homeowners insurance in Pennsylvania we evaluated the top five insurance providers in the state — State Farm, Erie Insurance, Allstate, Nationwide, and Liberty Mutual — on the ease of getting a quote, the robustness of their coverage options, and their discount policies. We also examined each company’s financial strength ratings from sources like A.M. Best, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s.
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Pennsylvania Homeowners Insurance Reviews
Popular and Straightforward
The Good Neighbor is one of the largest insurance companies in the country, and one of the largest in Pennsylvania, too; State Farm has 18.4 percent of the state’s market share. And for good reason. On top of a high reader score from Consumer Reports, its online resources help customers through the claims process step by step and the online quote process was straightforward — any field that seemed potentially confusing had a handy explanation.
However, State Farm isn’t impressive in the discount department. Most of State Farm’s typical discounts aren’t eligible for Pennsylvania policies. The multi-policy discount is available in the state, and it’s the one mostly likely to powerfully impact your premium; in the quote we got, our monthly premiums dropped from $64 to $41 per month when we bundled with auto insurance.
Strong Customer Service
Erie Insurance is a regional company available in only 12 states. With that smaller customer base comes better customer service — Erie received high scores from J.D. Power in terms of Overall and Claims Satisfaction, and an “Excellent” rating for timely payments. In fact, Erie Insurance was the only company on this list to receive an “Excellent” in any category.
No Online Quotes
To get a quote from Erie Insurance, you’ll have to contact an agent. The process is easy, and the representatives we spoke with could not have been more accommodating, but you will have to talk to someone; the company does not provide online quotes for home insurance.
Like its competition, Erie Insurance offers discounts for multiple policies and gives credit for installing a fire alarm, security system, or sprinklers. It does have one rather unique discount: the “Advanced Quote” discount. By obtaining a quote seven to 60 days before your policy is to take effect, you can reduce your premiums.
Its coverage limits for personal property are a bit lower than what some competitors offer — however, by purchasing the Advantage, Plus, or Select coverage on top of your ErieSecure insurance policy, you can increase the coverage on personal items. Erie also provides an earthquake insurance endorsement. While its informational materials don’t match up to State Farm’s, Erie Insurance offers dozens of articles, including one on earthquake safety tips.
Allstate takes the cake for discounts. It doesn’t just win for offering the most discounts of any company on this list; its discounts are also some of the most substantial. For example, bundling your policies can save as much as 30 percent, and if you remain claims-free, you can save an extra 20 percent. Add to that discounts for using easy pay, signing early, being a new home buyer, and many other available discounts.
Best Tools and User Experience
Allstate also placed first for its impressive tools. The “Digital Locker” is particularly notable; it’s one of the best home inventory tools we’ve seen and bested State Farm’s Home Index by a wide margin. It simplifies the process and allows you to keep your inventory in the one device you’re most likely to have on hand during a disaster: your phone. Its recently updated online quote form caught our eye as well. Though it wasn’t the fastest form to fill out (that prize went to Nationwide), it is responsive and simple to use. The Allstate site also has dozens of articles and videos explaining various aspects of its homeowners insurance policies, which are especially useful for first-time home buyers.
Nationwide is the only company that provides earthquake coverage as part of its main policy, rather than an endorsement (although a separate deductible applies.) Earthquakes? In Pennsylvania? Yep. There have been nine minor quakes in Pennsylvania in the past year. The majority of the state rests on the Marcellus Formation, a massive shale base that can shift easily. There’s also plenty of natural gas trapped in that soft rock, currently mined by fracking (Pennsylvania is the country’s second-largest producer of natural gas.) Although fracking itself isn’t linked to seismic activity, the underground wastewater wells created by the process can increase earthquake frequency. There are currently 7,788 active wells in the state, but the US Geological Survey does not think the state is at risk for major man-made quakes. Man-made or not, though, the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance has mandated that all earthquakes must be covered under earthquake insurance.
Best Quote Process
Another area where the company stands out is its online quote form; of the five companies, it was the fastest and easiest to fill out. These forms can be confusing for first-time homeowners insurance buyers, so we appreciated the fact that it was so straightforward.
While its discounts don’t quite match up to Allstate’s, Nationwide has a few heavy hitters of its own. The “Age of Construction” discount can save you as much as 30 percent on your premium if your home qualifies. On top of this, the Nationwide homeowners insurance resource center has helpful information on everything from wood-burning stoves to child-proofing your home.
Highest Quote and Most Unique Riders
Of the five companies we reviewed, Liberty Mutual provided the highest premium quotes. On the other hand, Liberty Mutual has some of the more unique benefits, including its “emergency home repair” offer. If damage occurs to your home that could lead to more extensive damage — a burst pipe, for example — Liberty Mutual has a 24/7 phone line set up to enable a quick response. The company also offers loss forgiveness; your premium won’t increase because of the first loss to your home. None of the other companies offer benefits like these.
On top of the standard multi-policy discount, Liberty Mutual offers an “Insured to Value” discount. If you insure your home for its full replacement value, you may be able to receive a discount on the premiums. Liberty Mutual’s affinity program also offers discounts to customers that are members of any of the 14,000 groups that belong to the program, including many employers, credit unions, and alumni associations.
Did You Know?
Floods aren’t covered.
An important element to remember when considering homeowners insurance is that all policies exclude flood damage. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers coverage for any insurable property. Even if you don’t feel the need for flood insurance, keep in mind that 25 percent of all floods happen in low- to mid-risk areas. If you live near a low-lying area with a water source, your risk is much higher; for example, residents near Erie and the Great Lakes and in the Delaware River Basin.
Flooding can occur as a result of heavy rains, but it can also occur due to burst pipes and other unexpected sources. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department has created a sort of one-stop shop for homeowners to find various types of coverage and it’s encouraging homeowners to shop for flood insurance.
Volcanos are covered.
Have you ever worried about losing your home to a volcano? Likely not, particularly in Pennsylvania, a state that hasn’t had volcanic activity for oh, 50 million years. Well, fear no more: Should one somehow occur, your home would be covered under any Pennsylvania homeowners insurance policy.
Sinkholes aren’t covered.
What’s confusing, however, is despite the automatic volcano coverage, in Pennsylvania sinkholes are not covered. Because of Pennsylvania’s rich mining history, there are more than 11,000 abandoned mines throughout the state. If a home is built over one of these mines, a sinkhole could open and cause severe damage. In August 2016, Spring Township lost its water main due to a sinkhole, and that’s far from uncommon. Supplemental coverage is available for sinkholes.
Certain dog breeds may increase your rates.
A couple in West Shore lost their policy because their springer spaniel bit a neighbor, resulting in a $42,000 payout. The insurance company declared the dog too much of a risk and canceled the policy. Different counties and neighborhoods have different ordinances based on the breed of dog, and if deemed risky by your insurer, your rates may increase.
One late payment could lead to canceled coverage.
Pennsylvania insurance companies are not required to give a grace period of insurance. If your premium is not paid by the due date, they are within their rights to cancel your coverage. Though we couldn’t find any instances of this actually occurring, it’s a possibility. Make sure to set a reminder to pay by the due date, or set up your account for automatic draft; many insurance companies offer a discount for automatic payments.
The Bottom Line
With insurance claims steadily rising in recent years, it’s certainly worth it for Pennsylvania homeowners to re-evaluate their insurance policies to make sure their coverage is still sufficient. And whether you’re an existing homeowner looking to update your policy or a first-time buyer searching for a good deal, the best way to find the best Pennsylvania homeowners insurance companies is to get several quotes and compare.
Find the best homeowners insurance in your area.
Get a quote by entering your ZIP code and start saving today.