The 5 Best Washington Homeowners Insurance Companies
Residents of Washington don’t have to worry about tornados and hurricanes, which means that premiums are considerably lower than other parts of the country, coming in at just $676 while the US average is $1,096 a year.
There are still several perils to be concerned with, however. For instance, residents living in metropolitan areas deal with potential theft, while those in rural areas have to contend with wildfires. And there’s always the potential of water damage from a leaky roof or roof damage from a windstorm, of course. No matter where you live, it’s important to choose an insurance company that doesn’t just write you a cheap policy, but will take care of you should disaster strike.
Because the price of a homeowners policy varies greatly from person to person, it’s important to get a quote for yourself (you can use the tool below). Read on to find out what we learned about the five largest home insurers in Washington.
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While we didn’t compare homeowners insurance providers on a national level (like we did for our nationwide review), we did use a similar process to find the best company for residents of Washington. The first, and arguably most important, factor we considered was how well each of the five largest companies handled customer’s claims. We also looked at each company’s online tools (including educational material and online quotes), discount offerings, available endorsements, financial stability, and what current customers had to say about them.
Since we wanted to test the quote process for ourselves, we started by getting online quotes. Then we called a local agent from each company. To keep the experience as natural as possible, we asked for quotes as if we were shopping for a homeowners policy for a typical home in Tacoma that we were planning on buying. When all was said and done, State Farm barely edged out Liberty Mutual to earn our top recommendation.
Washington Homeowners Insurance Companies Reviews
The same company that insures the most homes in Washington is also the company that earned our top recommendation. State Farm tied Liberty Mutual for the highest claim score from J.D. Power, and it’s financial security is rock-solid.
“Hassle-free” is how we would best describe our personal experience with State Farm. The local agent we called asked us a few basic questions, and then actually called us back 10 minutes later with a quote (unlike Farmers and PEMCO). We don’t think our experience was an outlier either – State Farm has the highest customer satisfaction score from Consumer Reports. Since it also had the most available endorsements, we are confident that it will have you covered, whether you need your belongings replaced due to water damage, or your roof replaced after a severe winter storm.
While Liberty Mutual offers more discounts, and Allstate has better online educational material, State Farm out-performed them where it matters most: claim satisfaction and customer service.
Liberty Mutual didn’t earn the top spot, but since it’s claim satisfaction rating and customer service evaluation was only slightly inferior to State Farm’s — it is a strong second choice. From recent remodels to security systems (and a whole lot more in between), Liberty Mutual offers a plethora of discounts to its customers.
Let’s face it: At some point you will probably have to call your insurance company for information, or to file a claim. Unfortunately with Liberty Mutual, we didn’t have the option of calling a local office that has more of a “small business feel” like we did with State Farm and Allstate. Instead, the phone tree that greeted us felt a lot more like a call center. Thankfully, we were soon connected with a real, friendly human that quickly gave us a quote – no call back necessary! Giving us his full name and personal phone number should we have any questions was a nice, personal touch. When we did call back with questions, the in-house underwriting made getting definitive answers to our questions a lot easier.
If you don’t mind dealing with a larger central office, Liberty Mutual is a solid choice. Since its financial strength and claims ratings are nearly on par with State Farm, you can safely take advantage of a few of the extra discounts it offers.
Allstate wins the educational resource category, and it’s not even a close race. The company’s common & costly claims tool is just one example of the wealth of information available on its website. While its claim and customer satisfaction ratings weren’t terrible, they weren’t comparable to State Farm’s and Liberty Mutual’s. Its discount offerings are nearly as robust as Liberty Mutual’s.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get a quote online (you may be able to in the future, however), but when we called up a local agent, we were very impressed by his professionalism and how clearly he explained all of the coverages to us. Should you have a claim in your first year or two with the company, Allstate offers a unique “claim forgiveness” program that guarantees that your rate won’t go up, and that they won’t cancel your policy. However, you will pay close to 20 percent more for your policy if you go that route.
For us, Allstate was quite a bit cheaper than the other companies (this will vary from person to person), but we just couldn’t justify recommending it over State Farm and Liberty Mutual due to it’s lower claims satisfaction rating from J.D. Power. Other than the inability to get an online quote, our stellar customer service experience made it easy for us to recommend Allstate as a good third option.
Farmers offers the most endorsements (optional coverages), but that’s really the only category it excels in. Its financial future is secure, and its 6-star (out of 10) rating for claims and customer satisfaction ratings were comparable to Allstate’s, but inferior to State Farm’s and Liberty Mutual’s 8-star rating.
Our biggest complaint surfaced when we called to test the quote process. The agent was friendly enough and took our information. After promising to call us back in a couple minutes when the quote was finished, the agent ended the call. However, it wasn’t until the next day that we were finally emailed a quote. Overall, Farmers simply doesn’t stand out as a stellar company, and our personal experience was bad enough that we can’t fully recommend the company to you.
Since PEMCO is local to the northwest, it wasn’t rated by J.D. Power or Consumer Reports, and since we couldn’t test its claims process for ourselves, we only have our personal experiences and customer’s testimonials to formulate our evaluation. PEMCO consistently scored the lowest on all of our other evaluations. It also didn’t stand up to our standard of “excellent” financial security – it received a B++ from A.M. Best.
When we started searching for a local agent to give us a quote, we realized that local offices were far and few between. The website directed us to an independent agent that sells PEMCO’s policies. That agent took our information but didn’t email us back in the promised time-frame – in fact, we didn’t get our quote until two days later. While this lapse doesn’t directly reflect on PEMCO, it does illustrate the inconsistent service experience you get when dealing with a middle man.
A lot of customers have great things to say about PEMCO, but we weren’t able to find enough independent data to verify how well it handles homeowners insurance claims, and since our experience wasn’t anything special, we can’t give it our full seal of approval.
While USAA is technically the 5th largest provider of homeowners insurance in Washington, we didn’t evaluate it due to its requirement that you or someone in your immediate family must have served in the military. However, we have heard a lot of great things about USAA – it might be worth your while to get a quote if you qualify.
Am I Covered?
Cannabis (Marijuana) Losses
Since the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2013, the industry has been growing very rapidly. Many Washington residents have even started growing cannabis in their personal gardens. But what if your $500 plant gets damaged or stolen? Does your homeowners insurance policy cover the loss?
As it turns out, there is little definitive information on the subject. We started our research by calling the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner. A representative informed us that there is no state law governing whether insurance companies have to cover your legal marijuana plants or supply. You must “refer to the language of your individual policy.”
So we called a few insurance companies. The local State Farm agent we spoke with couldn’t give us a definite answer on the subject, but did send us a sample policy which stated that State Farm specifically does not cover “contraband, or any property used in the course of illegal consumption, possession, import, export or trade.” The difficulty is in determining whether marijuana would be considered “illegal” because of the conflicting laws between the state and federal government (it’s still considered to be illegal by the federal government).
This question was raised in the court of a law on two separate occasions: one due to a homeowner’s loss in the State of Hawaii and another due to a company’s loss in Colorado. The two cases ended in opposite verdicts. In Hawaii, the law sided with the insurer and didn’t cover the loss, while in Colorado, the law sided with the grower and ruled that the “contraband” language didn’t apply to legal marijuana.
When we called our second choice, Liberty Mutual, we were given a much clearer answer. Thanks to the in-house underwriters, the representative we talked to was able to quickly confirm that, under no circumstances, could marijuana be covered under a homeowners insurance policy, whether it was the supply, or a plant that was growing inside or outside.
Mold can be a huge health concern for some homeowners, and it can cost quite a bit of money to deal with. Some insurance companies choose to cover it, while others don’t. For instance, State Farm specifically does not cover it and doesn’t even offer extra coverage that would. Liberty Mutual, however, will cover mold damage up to $5,000.
If you are worried about the possibility of mold (which may be a viable concern if you live in the western part of the state), you should double check with your agent when you get your quote to see if it’s covered.
Since the Nisqually Earthquake in 2001, there have been no major earthquakes in Washington State. Since the region isn’t as prone to earthquakes as a state like California, some may not be aware of this important fact: earthquakes are not covered under typical homeowners insurance policies. It’s not just earthquakes, however, any “moving of the earth” (including landslides) is ruled out.
While earthquakes aren’t a huge concern, if you live near the Puget Sound, you may want to consider purchasing coverage. Insurers will usually either offer a separate policy or will direct you to a partnering company that does. Typically, the deductible will be in the range of 15 to 20 percent of your home’s value.
Since regular insurance companies don’t sell flood insurance, it’s only available through the National Flood Insurance Program. While many regions of Washington may not be exceptionally prone to flooding, it’s worth your time to use the National Flood Insurance Program’s online tool to see if your area is at risk.
The Bottom Line
Knowledge is power – the more you understand about your prospective insurance company’s policies, the better equipped you will be to choose the company that’s right for you. It’s important to shop around, because with home insurance, the policy and company that’s right for one person, may not be the best choice for another. Be proactive and start getting quotes and asking questions today.
Find the best homeowners insurance in your area.
Get a quote by entering your ZIP code and start saving today.