The 5 Best Illinois Homeowners Insurance Companies
Illinois’ annual premiums for homeowners insurance are on the low side — on average $987 per year for an HO-3 policy, compared to the nationwide average of $1,132. That said, how much you’ll pay can vary a lot depending on your home’s size, your assets, and your address. Use our tool to find your best rates:
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Illinois residents are no strangers to inclement weather, whether it be the blizzards that persist through winter or the scorching heat of summer. Recent years have been especially extreme, however, and homeowners insurance claim payments have rapidly spiked due to the increased severity of catastrophic events such as snowstorms. In fact, the average homeowners insurance claim payment in Illinois increased 8.1 percent per year between 1997 to 2013, which is slightly higher than the nationally annualized rate of 7.8 percent.
Couple that with the fact that most Illinois homes were built in the 1950s and it’s not hard to see why finding the right homeowners insurance is so crucial for Illinois residents. Whether you live in the bustling metropolis of Chicago or the state’s agricultural areas, it’s important to find the level of coverage that will protect you from weather damage and keep your wallet happy. Luckily, the Illinois average premium is $987, which is slightly lower than the countrywide average. To find the very best rates in your area, use the tool below.
How We Found the Best Homeowners Insurance in Illinois
To find the best home insurance in Illinois, we evaluated the five most popular companies using a methodology similar to the one applied in our review of national companies. We examined the coverage options, discounts, financial strength, customer service, and claims process of each company. Though costs will vary depending on where you live in Illinois, we did go through the quote process with each company in Illinois’s five largest cities.
Illinois Homeowners Insurance Company Reviews
Nationwide edged out the competition in Illinois thanks to its strong claims services, numerous endorsements and discounts, and comprehensive coverage options. What really stood out about Nationwide was its commitment to covering all types of losses, particularly through the Brand New Belongings program which can be added to any plan and guarantees that any destroyed or damaged belongings will be replaced by brand-new equivalents.
The way the New Belongings program works couldn’t be simpler: The company sends you funds for the depreciated value of your goods, you select the new items you want and then send copies of your receipts. It pays the difference. The claims process if further streamlined through the online claims center available on the Nationwide mobile app, which no doubt helped earn the company a 4 out of 5 for Claims Experience in a Consumer Reports’ Homeowners Insurance study.
Beyond the rock-solid claims process, Nationwide offers an extensive number of endorsements and wide range of discounts for bundling policies, installing protective devices, or even just being married. For first-time insurance buyers, Nationwide also provides easy-to-understand educational resources through its website and mobile app; it’ll even set you up with free consultation with an agent to ensure you’re not overpaying for unnecessary coverage.
State Farm only narrowly missed out on the top spot in terms of claims experience, just two points shy of Nationwide’s score in the Consumer Reports’ homeowners insurance survey. What’s more, this claims score is significantly higher than both American Family and Farmers, in part due to its high marks in the “damage amount” category. Those marks are a strong indication that customers are happy with the reimbursement they receive when they file a claim. We weighted this especially high since this is why home insurance is so important to begin with — you want your provider to come through for you when you need it most.
Not only does State Farm offer significant discounts and endorsements, their standard policy also covers sewer backup, freezing, and damage from weight or snow. This is huge for Illinois residents as winter storms have only been increasing in severity over recent years and show no signs of letting up. Another win for Illinois customers is the State Farm endorsement for building code upgrades. Since many Illinois homes are over 60 years old, this optional coverage could save you should your building not meet current codes.
All-around, State Farm is a great choice, specifically for first-time buyers thanks to their robust learning center. Other resources include an online quote tool, a home inventory calculator, and 24/7 customer assistance.
Though customer service satisfaction, according to the Consumer Reports reader reviews, was lower than both Nationwide and State Farm, Farmers Insurance provides so many discounts for Illinois residents their policies that it’s worth your time to get a quote. It’s one of the only providers to offer a discount for the green-building LEED certification, which sets it apart from the other homeowner insurance companies. We were able to get a quote for a Chicago residence in under five minutes through their website, though you may be directed to an agent depending on where you live in the state.
The website also had a thorough explanation of insurance types, a glossary of terms, and a robust FAQ page to answer common questions. The Farmers iClaim app is a particularly attractive feature, as it lets you start the claims process and submit relevant photos directly from your phone. This straightforward approach to claims means you’ll get your money and your peace of mind back faster when confronted with property damage.
There are many benefits to American Family Insurance, not least of which is the fact that it only offer HO-5 policies. These differ from HO-3 policies (the more common option among the companies profiled in this review) in that HO-3 policies require claimants to “name” their perils and prove that the peril in question is covered under their policy. HO-5 policies operate under an “open-peril” standard, which means that the burden of proof lies with the insurance company.
On top of that the list of discounts on their website is second only to Farmers in terms of breadth of offerings. You’ll get cheaper coverage for multi-package plans, newer homes, and the installation of protective devices such as fire alarms. While that’s all great, the quote process with American Family didn’t quite stack up to the options listed above. The online tool directed us to an agent, who failed to contact us within the time frame specified in a confirmation email.
While there is a lot to like about Progressive’s home insurance coverage, such as add-on policy protections and a live online chatting feature on their website, the limited discounts and learning materials led to significant deductions in our final scoring of the company. Progressive does offer some discounts for common behaviors like multi-policy bundling, but somewhat standard discounts, such as one for newly renovated homes, are missing. Also, Progressive doesn’t offer insurance for rental properties, which is a relative anomaly in the industry.
Customer support is strong, as Progressive is responsive to email, phone, and Twitter inquiries. We tried to get a quote online, but we were asked to provide our social security numbers during the process which is something we opted out of doing. That being said, a quick phone call to a Progressive representative allows you to decline sharing personal information should you prefer not to.
Did You Know?
It’s Always Smart to Compare Quotes
Unless you have a strong personal preference for a specific provider, it behooves you to shop around to find the best rate for your home. Premiums can vary quite a bit due to a variety of factors such as location and the age of your home. To illustrate, we went through the quote process for a $275,000 home in the three largest cities in Illinois.
The average premium from State Farm clocks in at $141, which is $10 cheaper than the average premium from Nationwide ($151). A ten dollar savings every month might not seem like a lot, but it amounts to $600 over the course of five years. Not too shabby! And you may save more depending on where you live. Our State Farm quote in Chicago was over $20 less than the Nationwide quote. That’s $1200 saved over five years.
That being said, we recommend opting for the coverage that bests suits your needs, even if it means paying a little more per month. If you’re a collector of fine art or own expensive jewelry, it’s worth your while to opt into the scheduled valuables endorsement. Or if you own a pool, it’s wise to consider the personal liability endorsement, which protects you should someone be injured while at your residence. It all boils down to your lifestyle and the specifics of your home.
You Should Plan for Floods
If you’ve been living in Illinois for a while now, you’re probably well aware that the weather is unpredictable. And that’s putting it lightly. Tornadoes, thunderstorms, and flash floods are our most common hazards, so we recommend you consider adding on sudden and accidental water damage coverage to your plan.
According to Allstate’s Common Claims tool, water damage is the most costly and common claim in the Chicago, the state’s largest city:
Type of Claim
It’s also important to take into account the rapid increase in severity of storms over recent years. According to the Insurance Research Council, the average severity of homeowners insurance claims in Illinois grew from $2746 in 1997 to $9486 in 2013, partially due to the influx of inclement weather. Ensuring your plan covers these catastrophic events will allow you to rest easy should the weather take a turn for the worst.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Changing Coverage
As our lifestyles change so do our homeowners insurance needs. More and more people are renting out their homes on popular home sharing sites such as Airbnb, especially in cities like Chicago, and this fairly new industry brings with it a host of questions about liability and damage costs. Allstate, though not among our top five insurers, recently rolled out coverage for homeowners renting out their homes on a short-term basis. Before agreeing to a homeowners insurance plan, we suggest taking a moment to consider any current or future uses for your residence and seeking out a plan that protects you against all possible risks.
The Bottom Line
Whether you live in a loft in Chicago’s hip West Loop neighborhood or sprawl out in a three-story home in Aurora, you’ll do well to prepare yourself against the many severe weather hazards common in Illinois. Water damage is the most common and costly insurance claim in Illinois, so make sure your plan includes some sort of flood insurance. Enter your ZIP code in the tool below to start comparing rates and coverage options.
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