California is home to some of the most stunning and diverse landscapes in the country; from mountains, to deserts, to old-growth forests. Of course, that means it’s also susceptible to natural disasters. The state experiences earthquakes, wildfires, mudslides, and more — so if you own a home in California, you’re going to want homeowners insurance.

Here’s the tricky part: California homeowners insurance can be hard to get. Some companies refuse to insure homes in damage-prone areas, and some have become more selective following 2017’s widespread fires. Once you do find a provider, it's also important to make sure you can get the right coverage. For example: You may need to look for fire insurance that also covers damage from wildfire-related mudslides.

The key is finding a provider that not only insures your area, but also offers good rates and excellent coverage. We’ve done some of the leg work for you.

How We Found the Best Homeowners Insurance in California

We found the top five homeowners insurance providers in California, and evaluated them using the same methodology we put towards our nationwide homeowners insurance review. First, we checked each provider’s financial stability and customer service rankings. Then we looked for a wide variety of coverage options and discounts, which allow you to customize your policy to your needs. We were even able to compare typical rates for different types of homes; you’ll still have to request individual quotes to find the best price for you, but these estimates can help you understand which provider might offer the best deal.

California Homeowners Insurance Reviews

Allstate

Allstate returned to the California insurance market in 2016, after nine years of not issuing any new policies in the state. We’re glad to see Allstate back on the list, because it’s at the top of ours. This company earns top industry ratings: An A+ from A.M. Best means that Allstate is financially stable enough to make good on all payouts, and Consumer Reports ranks its claims process and payments ‘Very Good.’ As for overall customer satisfaction, Allstate earned three out of five stars from JD Power — but only a small handful of insurers scored above three, so don’t take that as a vote of dissatisfaction.

In addition to high ratings, Allstate has some of the best homeowners insurance policies on the market. If you’re looking for extra coverage you can add on water and sewer damage, identity theft protection, and umbrella liability coverage — among other options. We also love Allstate’s long list of discounts. You can expect a price cut for multi-line insurance policies (like bundling auto and home insurance), setting up auto pay, and keeping a smoke-free home. Allstate even lowers premiums for new homes, newly renovated homes, or having a new roof.

Navigating these options is made easy with Allstate’s great website and apps. Its site includes a list of resources to help you build a strong policy, plus a quiz you can take to confirm your knowledge of common homeowners insurance terms. (The more insurance lingo you know, the better you’ll understand your coverage). Allstate’s mobile app lets you manage your policy and track claims, and you can even upload photos of damaged property to expedite the claims process. Its Digital Locker app lets you build a home inventory and categorize the value of your property in case you need to file a personal property claim.

Allstate also stood out for one unique feature: An online tool that lists the most common and costly claims by zip code. If you live in LA’s 90004 zip code, for example, the most common insurance claim is theft and the most costly claim is smoke damage. Head north to Ojai (zip code 93023), and the most common claim is wind but the most costly claim is liability. You can use this tool to determine which types of coverage you might need, and whether you should install features like a home alarm system to deter would-be thieves. If you do add a burglar alarm, you’ll become eligible for another discount!

Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual is another of our top picks. It received an A rating from A.M. Best, which is slightly lower than Allstate’s A+ but still reflects a very high level of financial stability. Like Allstate, Liberty Mutual received “Very Good” ratings from Consumer Reports and 3 out of 5 points from JD Power, proving that customers are satisfied with its claims and service.

Along with all the standard coverage options, Liberty Mutual offers almost as many discounts as Allstate. Among these are multi-policy discounts, smoke alarm and sprinkler discounts, and discounts for new or renovated homes and roofs. In addition, you can get a price reduction for being affiliated with certain universities, companies, or government organizations — start the quote process to learn whether your employer or alma mater is on the list.

Where Liberty Mutual surpasses Allstate are its resources and educational tools. We’re really impressed with the company’s MasterThis educational modules — these mini-courses were developed in partnership with HowStuffWorks to teach you everything you need to know about homeowners insurance.

We’re even more impressed by Liberty Mutual’s two apps. It offers both the standard mobile app that lets you manage your policy and file claims, and a separate Home Gallery app that lets you create and manage a home inventory. This feature is especially important in case of fire or mudslide damage; people who experienced damage during the 2017 and 2018 fires report that not having a home inventory made the claims process very complicated. Being able to prove the value of your personal property is essential — so use the app to keep your home inventory in one place.

We’d suggest getting quotes from both Allstate and Liberty Mutual. The only reason Liberty Mutual takes second is that is has slightly fewer discount options — there’s no discount for people who autopay their premiums, for example. However, we’re happy with both insurers’ overall packages.

State Farm

State Farm dominates the ratings pool. It carries an A++ from A.M. Best, which is the highest of any provider on our list. It also received a ‘Very Good’ ranking from Consumer Reports, and JD Power responders gave the company three out of five points for its claims process — plus a rare four out of five for overall satisfaction. If you purchase a policy through State Farm, you can expect exceptional customer service and financial stability.

However, we rank State Farm third for two reasons: First, because it doesn’t offer as many discounts as Allstate or Liberty Mutual — meaning your policy will likely be pricier. Second, because its website and app come with fewer features. You can’t build a home inventory or even upload claims photos through its app (although you can upload those photos through your account at StateFarm.com). We prefer the convenience of managing our accounts with Liberty Mutual or Allstate’s tools.

Still, State Farm’s quality of service is best-in-class. We recommend comparing a quote from State Farm with quotes from our other top picks, to see how your own personal prices and coverage options stack up.

AAA (CSAA Insurance Exchange, Auto Club Exchange Group)

One of the biggest homeowners insurance providers in California is better known for its auto insurance: AAA (sometimes called the CSAA Insurance Exchange or the Auto Club Exchange Group). You’re not going to find a lot of information about homeowners insurance on AAA’s website, but it does offer discounts for people who insure both their cars and their homes, as well as homeowners with burglar or fire alarms, renovated homes, or fire-resistant roofs. It also offers a pretty basic app to help you manage your insurance policies.

Where AAA stood out from the pack was in our quote comparison. This company quoted us the most affordable premiums, with sample prices as low as $517 per year. Our highest quotes, from Farmers, rang in above $1,500.

Just remember to strike the right balance between low cost and decent coverage. AAA splits its homeowners insurance into “YourHome,” which covers replacement costs to your home and your personal property, and “YourHome Advantage,” which includes additional options like identity theft coverage. The other insurers on our list offer more comprehensive coverage packages, so keep that in mind as you compare options.

Farmers Insurance

Farmers Insurance is at the bottom of our list primarily because of its high rates; when we compared insurers, Farmers’ premiums were consistently higher than the competition. Farmers does offer discounts for people who open multi-line policies, install burglar or fire alarms, or replace their roof, but it doesn’t offer as many discounts as Allstate or Liberty Mutual.

We were also less than thrilled with Farmers’ website and app. Its website isn’t as informative as Allstate or Liberty Mutual’s, and its app doesn’t include as many features. You won’t be able to upload claim damage photos with the Farmers Insurance app, and you won’t be able to create a home inventory.

Farmers Insurance is highly rated by A.M. Best, JD Power, and Consumer reports, so the company is solid — but you might be able to find better options from another provider.

Five tips for getting the best homeowners insurance coverage and rates in California.

Use the California Department of Insurance Comparison Tool to compare rates.

You’ll still need to reach out to insurers for individual quotes, but you can get an idea of how their rates stack up by using the California Department of Insurance Homeowners Insurance Comparison Tool.

This tool lets you select your city and county, your home’s age, and the amount of insurance you need. Then it shows you estimated rates by provider and deductible.

Here are the rates it gave us for $500,000 worth of coverage for a new home in Altadena:

Insurer

Annual Premium With $1,000 Deductible
AAA
$517
Allstate
$663
Liberty Mutual
$813
State Farm
822
Farmers
1,458

Here are the rates for $750,000 worth of coverage for a 7 to 15-year-old home in Camarillo. Note the higher deductible, and that AAA and State Farm don’t appear to provide coverage in this area:

Insurer

Annual Premium With $2,500 Deductible
AAA
N/A
Allstate
$1,458
Liberty Mutual
$1,543
State Farm
N/A
Farmers
$2,350

Take some time to explore this tool; along with rates, it lets you view insurers’ optional coverages, discounts, and credits. You can also use it to search earthquake coverage rates, which you’ll probably need to purchase in addition to your primary homeowners insurance policy.

If you live in an area with few (or no) providers, try the California FAIR Plan.

Some insurers have stopped writing policies in areas prone to wildfires or other risks. For example, it doesn’t look like AAA or State Farm provides coverage in Camarillo — although it’s worth reconfirming with the individual provider because coverage policies sometimes change.

If your home isn’t covered by another provider, you might be able to get a policy under the California FAIR Plan. This state-sponsored program provides insurance as a last resort, and only after you’ve made a good-faith effort to seek other insurers — but it’s there if you need it. You’ll get basic dwelling and property coverage, including fire coverage. You can purchase additional coverage for windstorms and other perils.

If you want to access the FAIR Plan, you’ll need to apply through an authorized broker and make an annual effort to find other providers; even though you might not have any private insurers in your area this year, that could change in the future.

You can buy separate earthquake insurance from the California Earthquake Authority.

Only 11 percent of California homeowners had earthquake insurance in 2016. It’s risky to go without that important coverage, so if you can’t get earthquake insurance from your primary insurer, consider buying it from the California Earthquake Authority. This state-managed program provides earthquake insurance to more than one million California households.

You may also want flood coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program.

California is prone to both floods and mudslides, and there’s currently a debate over whether recent mudslides should be considered fire damage or flood damage. Lawyers argue that the mudslides wouldn’t have happened if the wildfires hadn’t happened first, so they should be classified as fire damage — which more homeowner policies cover. Insurers argue that the damage is ‘flood-related,’ because that means fewer payouts.

If your home is at risk for flood-related damage, talk to your insurer about flood insurance. If it doesn’t offer flood insurance directly, your provider can help you apply for a policy through the National Flood Insurance Program, a government initiative that provides coverage to people in at-risk areas.

Review before you renew.

You’ll also want to review your policy every time you renew it to make sure you’re getting the best rates and coverage. California insurers sometimes change the terms of their insurance policies, so stay on top of your coverage and don’t be afraid to switch insurers if you don’t like what you have. It’s worth it to shop around for the best rates and the best providers.