Massachusetts has seen some nasty winters. After the state was rocked with 110 inches of snow in 2014–15, homeowners filed almost $150 million in insurance claims according to the Boston Globe. Not willing to cut their losses year after year, Massachusetts homeowners insurance providers upped their prices. The Globe reports that in 2015, “The state’s biggest insurance companies received approval from the Massachusetts Division of Insurance to increase their overall rates by about 9 percent.”

Unfortunately, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. About 55 percent of Massachusetts property is also at-risk for hurricane exposure. That includes $511 billion worth of residential property, by the Insurance Information Institute’s most recent estimate. This makes Massachusetts the fifth most at-risk state for hurricane damage in the country — and it seriously increases the chances of costly insurance claims.

Considering the risk factors, it’s no wonder insurance providers charge higher premiums in Massachusetts. Homeowners in the Bay State are likely to pay around $1,400 in annual premiums, which is a notch above the national mean of $1,173. That said, your premium is individual: It’s based on factors like your address, your home’s size, and your assets, and prices will vary by company. We suggest requesting personalized quotes from a few of our top picks to see where you can get the best deal.

Tips for Homeowners Insurance Shopping in Massachusetts

Having trouble finding coverage? Try the FAIR plan from MPIUA.

Nothing beats a view of the Cape, but it comes with a cost. “Most traditional insurance companies are not interested in insuring coastal homes due to frequent exposure to storms,” says Steve Roy, CEO of Elliot Whittier Insurance in Danvers, MA. This takes a big toll in Massachusetts. According to the Insurance Information Institute, over half the state’s property lies near the coast, where wind and waves are a constant threat.

To make up for the lack of traditional insurance across the state, Massachusetts instituted its own option: the FAIR Plan from the Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriting Association (MPIUA). MPIUA is a non-profit that guarantees coverage to people in high-risk areas — including those with seaside homes on the Cape and in areas of high crime.

MPIUA is also known as the “insurer of last resort.” Before homeowners can be insured under the FAIR plan, they must prove that they’ve made a good-faith effort to obtain private coverage. For people who can’t get coverage anywhere else, though, it’s an excellent safety net.

Protect your home (and your wallet) against flood damage.

Counter to what you may expect, flood insurance is not included in most homeowners insurance policies. Only one of the top Massachusetts providers, Chubb, offers private flood insurance to its policyholders. This comes as a surprise, considering that floods are the “most common and most costly” natural disasters according to FEMA.

To protect themselves against flood damages, most homeowners will have to sign up for separate coverage through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It’s worth noting that this coverage can’t be bought by individuals: You’ll have to apply for it through a licensed agent. If you're not already working with a private agent, you can contact the NFIP for a referral.

In addition to protecting your house with flood insurance, it’s a good idea to take precautions against flood damage. You may find that a few costs on the front end can limit damage and mitigate huge repair costs in the event of a storm. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency recommends fortifying roofs, installing impact-resistant windows, keeping your gutters clear, and maintaining a home inventory, among other steps. Check out this MEMA brochure for more information.

Expert Advice: Gabrielle Lupton

Gabrielle Lupton is a 15-year veteran of the insurance industry and the daughter of an independent insurance broker. She now works as an independent consultant in Massachusetts. We asked her a few questions about homeowners’ insurance in Massachusetts and what we should look out for before we buy a policy.

On how to prepare before shopping for a policy with a broker:

Talk to your neighbors. See who their insurance carrier is. After that, put a checklist together of major details on your house, such as its square footage, the age of your roof, and quirks of the setup. If you know those major details, you’ll be fully prepared to talk shop with your agent so they can’t oversell you.

On the value of changing your policy every year :

In Massachusetts, after you have had policy for one year, you’re not technically required to renew it. This gives you freedom to contact your insurance broker and ask them to shop around for cheaper rates. But many people don’t do this once they buy their home insurance, “it’s out of sight, out of mind. That’s one thing you don’t think about — you don’t do this with your car insurance. Be sure to continue that relationship with your broker.”

On what makes Massachusetts unique:
There are many older homes in Massachusetts, averaging at least 50 years in age. They’re not as resistant to weather damage. This increases the liability for insurance companies and makes them less inclined to insure.

If you have an older home, the best way to insure it might be through an HO-8 policy. The HO-8 was specifically designed for older homes that will have a higher replacement cost than their actual cash value.