Typical Illinois home insurance premiums sit comfortably below the national average, but the increasing age of Illinois homes and an upswing in severe storms could shift this balance. And as the cost of homeowners claims continues to rise, it’s more important than ever to make sure you get the best possible rate.

There are many factors that determine your homeowners insurance premiums, including the age of your home, any previous claims, and your creditworthiness. Each company weighs these factors differently, so the only way to find out which company will offer you the best deal is to get quotes from several providers. To get started, read our review of the five best Illinois homeowners insurance companies.

Illinois Homeowners Insurance Reviews

State Farm

State Farm does its best to make home insurance easy. All of its policy offerings are clearly listed on its website, and it’s the only company on our list that doesn’t require you to call and speak to an agent in order to purchase a policy: You can do it online through the company’s 360Value Tool, which walks you through detailed questions about your home’s construction. State Farm’s claims process is similarly smooth, as evinced by its high ratings from both J.D. Power and Consumer Reports.

State Farm was our second-cheapest option (coming in at just $15 more per month than Liberty Mutual). You may be able to lower your premium even further by taking advantage of State Farm’s range of discounts. You can save by installing fire alarms, by bundling your auto and home insurance, and simply by remaining claim-free. If you have an older home, you may also be interested in State Farm’s discount for updated utility systems.

If you’re concerned about wind and hail damage, we should mention that State Farm is the only company on our list that lacks a separate wind/hail deductible. This is good if you only want to worry about one broad deductible, but the downside is that your State Farm deductible must be 1 to 5 percent of your home’s value: There’s no option for a standard dollar-value deductible. Percentage-based deductibles often work out to be more expensive — but if you never need to file a claim, they can save you quite a bit on your premiums.

Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual gave us our cheapest quote, at just $66 per month in Chicago. It keeps its rates low by offering an impressive 15 homeowners insurance discounts (second only to Allstate), including new home, updated utility and new roof discounts. If you’re a member of one of Liberty Mutual’s partner organizations, you can score additional savings.

You also can’t do better than Liberty Mutual if you’re looking to customize your policy with endorsements. In addition to the standard schedule valuables, replacement cost and water backup coverage, it also has some unique options like Inflation Guard. This endorsement continually adjusts the value of your homeowners policy to keep up with inflation. There’s also Home Protector Plus, an endorsement that pays for unforeseen circumstances like replacing your personal belongings or paying for additional living expenses.

Liberty Mutual doesn’t offer quite the chart-topping level of customer service that you’ll find with State Farm, though. Liberty Mutual earned a respectable 83 from Consumer Reports and a four out of five for claims handling, but J.D. Power wasn’t as impressed, only giving the company an overall score of 3 of 5 stars (versus State Farm’s 4 of 5).

Allstate

Our Allstate quote fell in the middle of the pack, but you may score a cheaper rate depending on how many discounts you qualify for. Allstate offers the most homeowners discounts of all our finalists, including a welcome discount for new members, a discount for being smoke-free, and discounts for new homeowners and new autopay users. If you’ve suffered from hailstorms and are upgrading to an impact-resistant roof, Allstate will give you a discount there as well.

On top of that, Allstate offers a couple of endorsements that can help keep your premium low over the long term. The company’s Claim-Free Rewards gives you a bonus check every year you go without filing a homeowners claim. Its Claim RateGuard works like the accident forgiveness that some auto insurers offer, preventing your rates from going up the first time you need to file a claim.

Allstate didn’t fare as well as the other companies on this list in terms of claims handling. It only received a three out of five from J.D. Power, and Consumer Reports noted that customers were often not satisfied by the damage amount they received for their claims. You might not have any problems, but if this is a concern for you, you may feel more comfortable choosing a provider like State Farm.

Travelers

Travelers was far and away our most expensive quote in Chicago, at $121 per month. Part of the reason may be that the company doesn’t offer as many discounts as providers like Allstate and Liberty Mutual. (Although you can still get standard discounts for things like remaining claim-free and holding multiple policies.)

If you’re able to afford the risk, one way to keep monthly costs down is to choose a higher out-of-pocket deductible. Travelers sticks to the standard dollar-value deductibles and has seven options between $1,000 and $50,000, allowing you to find an amount that fits your budget. Like most companies on this list, Travelers also has a separate wind/hail deductible: You can opt for a $1,500, $2,500 or $5,000 deductible, or go with one based off a percentage of your home’s value.

Travelers is worth a closer look if you own a green home. It’s the only company on our list to give discounts to homes that are LEED-certified. You can also purchase a special endorsement to ensure that your home is repaired with eco-friendly building materials. These considerations are usually not included under a traditional homeowners policy.

Country Financial

It’s not easy to get a read on Country Financial at first glance because its website offers so little information. There’s a basic description of coverage options and discounts, but you’ll have to contact a local Country Financial agent by phone to learn about specifics. You’ll also have to call when you’re ready for a quote because there is no online quote tool. (Alternatively, you can fill out a contact form online and wait for the company to get in touch with you.)

Country Financial offers three levels of coverage. Its Basic plan is a standard policy that covers things like fire, theft and storm damage. Premier is their top-tier plan and includes coverage against all standard perils, plus minor incidents like paint spillage and power surge damage. If Premier proves too expensive, the Combined coverage option falls in the middle, providing Premier protection for your personal items and Basic protection on your home itself. There aren’t many discounts available to help you save on your coverage, but Country Financial’s rates are known for being pretty affordable in spite of this.

The company does not show up in the Consumer Reports homeowners survey, but it earned a four out of five from J.D. Power. Plus, it’s one of the largest insurers in the state — a pretty good indication that it treats its customers well.

What to Know Before Shopping for Illinois Homeowners Insurance

Weather-related claims are driving up rates.

Catastrophe-related claims — those due to large-scale weather-related incidents — have been on the rise in Illinois since 2005, and they are a key contributor behind the state’s rising homeowners premiums.

The Insurance Research Council found that in 2013, insurers paid an average of $502 for every insured home in Illinois, compared to $442 paid on average nationwide. Typical claim cost also rose sharply during the same time period: From approximately $7,000 in 2005 to $9,486 in 2013. The IRC credits these increases in part to the severity of the storms that have hit the state, plus the rising cost of building materials.

As a homeowner, there isn’t much you can do about this increase other than ensure you’re adequately protected. Look at what types of incidents you may be at risk for in your area and make sure your coverage limits are high enough, and review your policy every year to ensure that it remains adequate for your needs.

Your home’s age may cost you.

The average home in Illinois is between 40 and 50 years old. That’s great if you’re looking for something with a little vintage charm, but older homes often bring problems, especially when the original utility systems are still in place. This could result in much higher premiums for you.

Consider updating your home’s electrical, heating and plumbing systems if you can afford to do so. It will cost more upfront, but it could end up saving you quite a bit in insurance premiums over the long term. State Farm, Liberty Mutual and Country Financial all offer discounts to homeowners who update their utilities.

Wind and hail coverage cost extra.

Insurers in Illinois paid out over $180 million for hail claims between 2010 and 2013, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The costly nature of these claims has caused many providers to rethink their business model. Wind and hail damage used to be a standard peril covered under your basic homeowners deductible, but companies are increasingly requiring homeowners to pay a separate deductible for these claims.

Wind/hail deductibles may be a standard dollar-value amount or a percentage of your home’s value. In either case, they’re often more expensive than your all-perils homeowner deductible and you usually have fewer options to choose from.

State Farm is the only company on our list that doesn’t require you to pay a separate deductible for wind and hail damage. The tradeoff is that State Farm requires you to choose a percentage-based deductible, which may turn out to be more expensive than going with a separate wind/hail deductible.