The 5 Best Maryland Homeowners Insurance Companies
Maryland’s annual premiums for homeowners insurance are on the low side — on average $942 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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Maryland residents in search of homeowners insurance will be glad to know that the state’s average annual premium was $942 in 2014. If that sounds like a lot of money, keep in mind that the national average for that same year was $1,132. This is all the more impressive when you consider that Maryland is no stranger to natural disaster; the state incurred severe damage after both Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, along with a few instances of flash-flooding and heavy snowfall.
We don’t mention these severe-weather events to scare you, only to emphasize the importance of finding the right homeowners insurance policy. You want coverage that fits your needs while keeping costs down, which is no easy task. Because rates can vary depending on where in the state you live, we recommend using this online quote tool to start comparing rates.
How We Found the Best Homeowners Insurance in Maryland
In order to find the best home insurance in Maryland, we first selected the five biggest insurance providers based on market share. Using a similar methodology to the one applied in our review of national companies, we then thoroughly researched each company by comparing discounts, endorsements, customer service, financial strength, and more. We pored over Consumer Reports reviews and evaluated professional rankings through J.D. Power and Associates. After collecting our data, we assigned a number value to each aspect researched and analyzed the numbers. Read on to see where each company ended up.
Maryland Homeowners Insurance Company Reviews
Simply put, Allstate’s got it all when it comes to comprehensive, affordable homeowners insurance. The company doesn’t get perfect scores across the board, but the strengths far outweigh the weaknesses (more on those later). Of particular note is the website’s interactive education center, which includes an awesome Common and Costly Claims tool that allows you to view the types of claims most frequently made in your zip code (hint: it’s probably water damage). This is especially good to know, because many coverage plans don’t include sudden water damage so you’ll need to purchase an add-on to fully protect yourself.
To further manage your policy, Allstate has other tool such as the Premium Gauge which lets you view how the specifics of your home, such as its age or number of protective devices installed, can affect your annual costs. The Digital Locker also gives you an easy, convenient place to track all of your personal belongings of value. You upload pictures of your item with a smartphone and the data is stored by Allstate to be used as reliable documentation if you do need to make a claim.
The discounts offered through Allstate also help cement it as the top provider. You’ll get up to 30 percent off for a multi-policy discount and 10 percent as a simple “welcome” from the company. That being said, Allstate does have room for improvement, specifically in the claims management department. Readers scored the company relatively low in a Consumer Report homeowners insurance survey, below all the other companies included in this guide. Despite this, Allstate ranked high in our customer service evaluations and we were able to get a quote for a home in Baltimore almost instantly using their online quote tool. For convenience and clarity, Allstate can’t be beat.
The runner-up award goes to insurance juggernaut State Farm, one of the largest and most widely available providers in the country. The same Consumer Reports homeowners insurance survey that docked Allstate highlighted State Farm in a more favorable light, giving the company a 15 point lead in comparison to Allstate. State Farm’s education materials are also above average, though doesn’t quite stack up to Allstate’s.
State Farm’s reputation as an easy, affordable provider is well-earned, as it had the highest financial stability of all the companies we evaluated, earning an “A++” from A.M. Best and an “AA” from S&P Global. J.D. Power also rated State Farm as “better than most” in regards to customers’ satisfaction with the claims process, which we weighted heavily. Filing claims is arguably the most cumbersome endeavor related to homeowners insurance so you want your experience to be as painless as possible.
Before we give you the breakdown of USAA and why it earned a top spot on this list, it’s important for you to know that USAA is only available to current and former members of the US military and families. For this reason, we weren’t able to fully complete its quote process, but the agent we spoke with through the website’s online chat feature was especially gracious in explaining USAA’s policies and commitment to veterans.
Those who do qualify for USAA coverage are exceedingly happy with it, however, as it ranked 2nd out of 14 companies in the Consumer Reports customer survey. It also matches State Farm in terms of financial stability and often covers higher replacement costs than its competitors. That being said, the website is a mixed bag when it comes to educational materials: USAA does a decent job of explaining discounts but the clarity around the differences between coverage plans is lacking. Still, if you or a family member is an active or former member of the US military, this is definitely a worthwhile provider to walk through the quote process with.
When it comes to discounts, Travelers stands out as an exceptional provider. Allstate still beat out Travelers in terms of number of discounts offered, but not by much, and both companies are the only ones profiled to offer 5 percent off your premium for signing up for auto-pay. What’s more, Travelers is the only company to discount for certified LEED homes.
While Travelers offers some of the cheapest premiums in Maryland, those with older homes should be aware that Travelers doesn’t provide ordinance and law coverage for homes with less than $1 million in replacement costs. This is of note because older homes may be required to upgrade plumbing and other systems to stay within ordinances and laws, so it can be a huge help to have this covered by your insurance.
Maryland homeowners are lucky to be one of 12 states where Erie Insurance operates, as it boasts some of the lowest rates all while consistently ranking high in the areas of customer service and financial strength. In fat, Erie earned high scores from J.D. Power for both Customer Satisfaction and Overall Service.
As its a smaller company, Erie’s lack of online tools and resources isn’t all that surprising. Nevertheless, if you want a quote from Erie you will have to pick up the phone. That might sound like more work than an online quoting process, but the representatives we spoke with were extremely informative, answering any questions we had about discounts and endorsements. When it comes to discounts offered, however, Erie competes with the best of them. It even has a discount dubbed the “Advanced Quote” discount which reduces your premium if you apply for your quote seven to 60 days before you set your policy to go into effect.
Did You Know?
Prices Can Vary Significantly
To illustrate just how wildly prices can differ across the state and between providers, we applied for quotes in three of Maryland’s most prominent cities. We went through the process for a $325,000 single-residence home with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a 2-car garage in each instance to keep variables as constant as possible.
As you can see, the differences between All State and State Farm are significant in Maryland. Though individual premiums will vary and we recommend you seek out a quote for the home you want insured, you can get an idea for just how much prices can vary in the chart below.
The biggest difference in price occurred in Bowie, the third largest city in Maryland. The difference of $45 per month in plan could net you $2700 in savings over a five-year period. Even in Baltimore, where the difference is just $16, you’ll save $960 if you opt for the State Farm coverage.
Extra Sudden Water Coverage Could End Up Saving You Big
As we mentioned earlier, Maryland’s mid-Atlantic coastal location means that parts of the start are susceptible to catastrophic events such as forceful hurricanes. Considering the relatively recent destruction caused by Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy, it’s smart to look into adding on flood coverage, a feature that many standard plans don’t include.
Water damage is the most common and costly claim in the three cities listed above, but standard coverage often doesn’t include catastrophic events. The water damage protection available for standard plans typically covers burst pipes, clogged drains, and minor accidents. While that certainly is useful, you’ll need flood damage to protect yourself from another severe weather incident.
Renewing Your Quote Every Few Years Could Also Save Some Cash
If you’ve had coverage for a while now, there’s a 50 percent chance you may be underinsured. It’s common for first-time homeowners to ensure their property for the amount they paid for it rather than the true cost of rebuilding a damaged home. To amend any shortcomings in your plan, make sure that you insure for the rough estimate of the cost of rebuilding should your property be entirely destroyed. Of course, this is unlikely but you want to be prepared. You can calculate the rough estimate by multiplying your home’s square footage with the average cost of building materials needed.
The Bottom Line
Because of its proximity to the East Coast, Maryland is at risk for any major weather event occurring along the Atlantic, including hurricanes. To be prepared and have peace of mind, we recommend that you equip yourself with flood insurance to be safe. Moreover, insurance quotes vary quite a bit across the state, so use the tool below to start shopping around.
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