The 5 Best Montana Homeowners Insurance Companies
Montana’s annual premiums for homeowners insurance are on the low side — on average $1,003 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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Montana is a varied land of breathtaking landscapes — and if we’re honest, an even wider variety of hazards for homeowners. That includes forest fires, earthquakes, tornados, and golf-ball sized hail. If the weather wasn’t bad enough, Montana law complicates matters: Homeowners insurance companies can look back at your entire claim history, unlike most other states. This makes choosing your homeowners insurance company in Montana even more of a headache.
Homeowners in Montana spend around $1,003 on insurance premiums, which is just below the national average of $1,132. While that’s generally good news, various factors including your address, home value, credit history, and more can influence what you will pay for homeowners insurance. It’s important to shop around to find the best fit and the best bang for your buck. Use the quote tool below to begin comparing rates.
How We Found the Best Homeowners Insurance in Montana
Using a similar methodology as our review on nationwide providers, we began our review of Montana homeowners insurance companies by finding the five largest companies in the state, in terms of marketshare. We went through the quote process with all of them, evaluating coverage options, discounts, and customer service, as well as comparing websites for consumer education resources and online tools. We gathered data from J.D. Power and Consumer Reports to compare customer satisfaction ratings, and finally, we looked into each insurer’s financial stability. In the end, we ranked them, beginning with the company we believe is the best overall fit for Montana homeowners.
Montana Homeowners Insurance Reviews
State Farm lands solidly at the top of our list thanks to its stellar customer satisfaction, offering the most endorsements, and the overall best communication with customers.
State Farm’s online quote tool is easy to use, but somewhat limited as the ability to customize the quote at the end of the process is restricted beyond basic changes. State Farm agents we spoke with were very helpful, so if you don’t mind making a call to fix minor details, this shouldn’t be a problem for you. Overall, the website is easy to navigate, featuring a learning center with helpful articles for homeowners.
We found State Farm to be the most expensive, and data from across the state shows this to be true in general. Of course, price isn’t everything. State Farm outranks the other providers on our list for J.D. Powers claims satisfaction and Consumer Reports overall customer satisfaction. State Farm is also touted as the most well-rounded company in our line-up of nationwide providers. It may cost more, but customers are generally very happy with their coverage and service.
Compared to the others on our list, Farmers blew away the competition with its wide range of discounts which were laid out clearly on its website. In particular, we found the business and professional discount appealing. Certain professions — including educators, firefighters, policemen, lawyers, and healthcare workers — may qualify for a discount. (You must meet certain criteria and submit documentation.) All of these discounts coupled with a much lower quote price than State Farm, leaves Farmers as a very attractive option for homeowners in Montana.
Farmers’ website features an online quote tool that is easy to use and offers the customer the option to customize their level of insurance easily and clearly. There is also an education section of their website called Inner Circle that has helpful articles about home maintenance and insurance. Unfortunately, there is no online chat feature, but there is an option to email. Some information on the website is a bit unclear, directing customers to contact their agent instead of giving a straight answer, but overall we found their site to be the most helpful, informative, and easy to navigate of the bunch.
Farmers ranked slightly lower than the national competition in Consumer Reports data, and was only beat out by State Farm in J.D. Power’s claims ratings, tying with the other nationwide companies on our list.
Mountain West Farm Bureau
We found that Mountain West Farm Bureau landed in the middle of our list. It offers one of the lowest prices of the group, but also the fewest discounts. The company does have a discount for hail-resistant roofs, which with Montana weather and state law (as discussed below) can be a very worthy investment.
As a local company, Mountain West’s website is, unsurprisingly, not as robust as the national competition. Information about coverage options is limited, but the basic endorsements are listed. There is an online learning center with helpful articles for homeowners that seems to be updated regularly. There is no online chat, but there is an option to email. There is an online quote tool, but it is really a form to input very basic information which an agent then uses to create a very basic quote. Any customization must be done by communicating with an agent. Luckily, we found agents to be timely and knowledgeable.
Even though Liberty Mutual takes up the second largest market share of property and casualty insurance in Montana, there are no local offices in the state, so all business must be completed over the phone or email. (We tried to obtain an online quote using multiple zip codes across the state, but were directed to contact a local agent before we could input any other information.) Liberty Mutual’s website does feature many articles on The Torch blog on a variety of topics to educate homeowners. Like Farmers, Liberty Mutual offers discounts to certain professions and groups, but this information is not as clearly outlined on their website. Liberty didn’t offer as many discounts as Farmers, but did beat out Mountain West and Travelers.
For customer satisfaction, Liberty Mutual ranked similarly to Travelers: behind State Farm in J.D. Powers claims ratings and Consumer Reports overall reader scores. Between those scores the limited options for obtaining a quote in Montana, we couldn’t justify putting Liberty Mutual higher up on our list.
While Travelers ranks fairly well in customer satisfaction, falling below only State Farm in J.D. Power and Consumer Reports scores, we found it to be the least easy to communicate with and the most difficult to obtain a quote from. It offers standard endorsements and standard discounts, but nothing that stood out against the competition. One of its most intriguing qualities is offering the lowest price of the bunch. Choosing the cheapest option might mean more problems in the long-run, but saving some cash is certainly worth looking into.
Travelers’ online quote tool is not as clear as other providers’ websites. There are fewer explanatory pop-ups next to questions to help customers understand what they are being asked, an important factor since most of us don’t shop for insurance everyday. We were also unable to finish our quote online and had to call an agent and begin the quote again. (We found this to be true using several different zip codes from across the state.) The website features some educational articles for homeowners, but lacks the breadth and depth of other sites. Travelers is the only provider to link to an article about credit history on their homeowners insurance page, which — as discussed below — particularly affects Montanans. The website offers the option of email, but no online chat tool.
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Did You Know?
Acts of God can cause you to lose coverage.
Unlike many other states which have three or five year limits, Montana law allows homeowners insurance companies to look as far back at a customer’s claim history as they want. In a state rife with damaging weather, earthquakes, and forest fires, a series of natural occurrences — even over a long span of time — can have costly consequences for homeowners.
Years of successive, damaging storms have left many residents of Montana filing frequent claims. Be aware that even if the damage to your home is from Mother Nature and totally unpreventable, homeowners insurance companies can choose not to renew your policy because of too many claims being filed, as happened to 3,000 customers in Billings after a very damaging hail storm in 2014. It can be extremely difficult to find another company willing to insure after such an event.
A 2015 bill that would have prevented insurers from looking back more than five years at a customer’s claim history failed to make it out of committee in the House of the Montana State Legislature after passing in the Senate. This led, in part, to Montana’s “D” grade in the R Street Institute’s 2015 Insurance Report Card.
Monica Lindeen, the Montana State Insurance Commissioner, suggests not reporting small claims to your insurance company. If the repairs won’t cost much more than your deductible, it’s probably not worth the claims history.
Working on your credit score can help avoid high premiums.
Americans with only fair or poor credit scores pay more for their homeowners insurance. For 57 percent of consumers, using a credit score can lower premiums, but those are obviously those customers with good scores.
For those with not so excellent scores, things are even worse in Montana. In Big Sky Country, you will see a 66 percent average increase in homeowners insurance premiums if you have fair credit, as opposed to excellent credit. That’s the biggest increase in the country. If your credit is poor, instead of excellent, you can expect a 179 percent increase in premiums in Montana, the fourth worst in the nation. At the end of the year, that’s a lot of money that Montanans are losing out on. We recommend checking your credit scores and working on keeping them up to avoid high premiums.
You should look into earthquake insurance.
Montana is one of the sixteen most high risk states for an earthquake, as well as one of the most seismically active states in the US, although most of this activity is small and concentrated in the mountainous areas of the state. If you do live in an area prone to earthquakes, know that homeowners insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage. Most companies offer the additional coverage, but it will cost, especially in an earthquake prone area. Besides looking into insurance coverage, you can also retrofit your home to be more earthquake safe.
The Bottom Line
According to our research, State Farm and Farmers are going to give you the best overall service. But that doesn’t mean they will always quote you the most affordable rate. Use our quote tool below to compare policies yourself — it’s the only way you’ll be able to find the best rate possible.
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