The 5 Best North Carolina Homeowners Insurance Companies
North Carolina’s average annual premiums for homeowners insurance are right in line with the national average — $1,056 per year for an HO-3 policy, compared to $1,132 nationwide. 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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At first glance, concerns for homeowners in North Carolina seem similar to many of their neighboring states. There’s the potential for inclement weather in the mountains, hurricanes on the coastline, and the threat of flooding or tornadoes pretty much throughout the state. But what really complicates homeowners insurance in North Carolina is an outdated ratemaking system, which has led to some unintended consequences in the past (more on that later).
North Carolina is one of only two states that continues to use the oldest ratemaking system in the country, and the only state in the nation to receive back-to-back “F” ratings from an independent think tank due largely to politicization and excessive regulation. But the good news is there really are some great homeowners insurance providers in the state that can help you find the right coverage for your home. The average home insurance premium in North Carolina comes in at just over $1,050 per year, which is about $200 less than the average in South Carolina, but roughly $100 more than what the average homeowner pays in Virginia. To get a sense for the rates for your home and your area, use the quote tool above.
How We Found the Best Homeowners Insurance in North Carolina
In our search for the best homeowners insurance in North Carolina, we followed a similar methodology as our review of the best nationwide providers. We started with a list of the largest homeowners insurance companies in the state and really dug in, researching customer service, financial strength, coverage options, available discounts, and claims management. We spoke on the phone with multiple agents, sent emails to get clarification when details were unclear, and took a hard look at the fine print. We then aggregated all this data and ranked providers based on how they performed in each category. Here’s how they stack up.
North Carolina Homeowners Insurance Reviews
Nationwide edged out Allstate and USAA as our recommended pick due to a strong all-around performance. Nationwide tied for first for endorsements, matching the coverage offered by USAA, Allstate, and State Farm, and came in as a close runner-up to USAA for having great claims management. In Consumer Reports’ Homeowners insurance study, Nationwide received a 4 out of 5 for Claims Experience, besting both State Farm and Allstate, which each received a 3.
Nationwide couldn’t quite match the digital tools provided by Allstate, but the company’s resource center has dozens of articles that cover everything from home insurance basics to maintaining the pipes in your home. Educational resources like these are a great asset, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer or just learning about homeowners insurance.
Among the providers we evaluated, Allstate was the clear standout for discounts. Allstate’s multi-policy discount can save you up to 30 percent on your premium when you bundle home and auto policies — a full 10 percentage points over what you’ll get with Nationwide and 13 percentage points more than State Farm. Allstate also offers a 20 percent discount for remaining claims-free, and it’s the only provider among those we evaluated to offer an early-signing discount, which saves you up to an additional 10 percent if you sign up with Allstate before your current policy expires.
Allstate’s educational resources and digital tools are also better than any other competitor we evaluated. For example, Allstate’s Digital Locker is a mobile app that helps you create an inventory of your personal belongings. State Farm has a home inventory tool, but it’s nowhere near as easy to use or as feature-rich. If your personal items are ever lost, stolen, or damaged, you’ll be happy you took the time to catalog your belongings, and no one makes it easier than Allstate.
Filing a claim is perhaps the most important factor when selecting a homeowners insurance company, and that’s where USAA shines. In Consumer Reports’ Homeowners Insurance study, USAA came in as the overall runner-up, outscoring 12 other major competitors, including three of the providers we evaluated. USAA’s Reader Score was 92, a full 15 points above Allstate. USAA was also the only company among those we evaluated to receive a 5 out of 5 for timely payment, so you can expect a quick payout after you file a claim. (Note: NC Farm Bureau was not included in the study.)
USAA may very well have been our recommended pick if it weren’t for the limitations on membership. In order to qualify for membership, you, your spouse, or your parents must have served in the military. North Carolina is home to the third-largest military population in the US, so if you do meet one of these requirements, USAA is a great choice.
State Farm is a well-rounded provider, but the company was outperformed by at least two others in claims management, customer service, and discounts. State Farm’s multi-policy discount can knock up to 17 percent off your premium if you bundle with auto insurance, which is not quite as competitive as the 20 percent offered by Nationwide. Similar to Allstate, USAA, and Nationwide, discounts are also available from State Farm if you remain claims-free or if you have home security features in your home.
Where State Farm did stand out was its financial strength. State Farm and USAA were the only providers to receive the superior “A++” rating from AM Best, outranking the “A+” received by Allstate and Nationwide, and two ratings higher than the “A” NC Farm Bureau was issued. Financial strength ratings speak to a company’s ability to meet its ongoing insurance obligations — aka pay your claims. (To provide some context, even an “A” rating is still considered excellent by AM Best.) When you’re dealing with a long-term investment like a home, financial strength is definitely something to keep an eye on, and in this case, it’s reassuring to see such high marks across the board.
NC Farm Bureau Insurance Group
NC Farm Bureau Insurance Group is a good choice if you prefer to work directly with an agent. The company’s website is outdated, and contains very little information about coverage options and discounts, and has no online quote tool or helpful online resources. But it does make it easy to connect with an agent, and when we reached out to six NC Farm Bureau agents via email for additional coverage information, we received a response from all six within three hours. That’s impressive. All of the agents were helpful, answered our questions, and offered to schedule a call to talk more about policy options. One agent even sent a reply after we received an auto-reply indicating she was out of the office for the week. We had a similar experience on the phone, as agents were friendly, answered our questions, and weren’t sales-y at all.
Did You Know?
Comparing available discounts can help save hundreds on your premium.
As mentioned earlier, the average home insurance premium in North Carolina is roughly $1,050 per year, which is about $83 per month. Most homeowners insurance companies — including all five we evaluated — offer a variety of home insurance discounts. Selecting a provider with discounts that match your circumstances can be a great way to keep your premium low. To illustrate how discounts can lead to premium savings, we compared a few similar discounts from Allstate and Nationwide.
Safe home / protective devices
Personal status (married / widowed)
It’s important to note that the amounts listed above are the maximum amount for each discount. The exact amount of each discount may vary based on where you live and the coverage you select. But even if you qualified for roughly 30 percent of each discount above, here’s what would happen to a $1,000 premium:
Discount / Annual Savings
Discount / Annual Savings
Safe home / protective devices
Personal status (married / widowed)
As you can see, you can save hundreds of dollars per year just by finding a provider with discounts that apply to you. Getting the right coverage should be your ultimate goal, but finding comparable coverage from a provider with better-suited discounts means more money stays in your pocket.
What you need to know about Consent to Rate forms.
In North Carolina, limits for homeowners and auto insurance rates are established by the North Carolina Rate Bureau (NCRB) and the Department of Insurance. Insurance companies are not allowed to charge rates higher than those established by the NCRB unless the policyholder signs a Consent to Rate form. As a homeowner, when you sign a Consent to Rate form, you give the insurance provider permission to charge a rate that is higher than that established standard. If you don’t sign the form, you run the risk of being dropped by your provider.
Over the last several years the number of Consent to Rate forms has increased to include a significant percentage of North Carolina homeowners. In 2014, 40 percent of homeowner policies in North Carolina were charged a rate higher than the established NCRB rate, a 17 percentage-point increase over 2010 figures. One North Carolina homeowner was given a consent to rate form and had 10 days to decide whether to accept an increase of more than 120 percent or risk losing coverage.
Homeowners receive Consent to Rate forms when the insurance provider determines that the level of risk exceeds what the Bureau-established rate would cover (for example, maybe you recently filed a claim and were labeled “high-risk.”) If you receive a Consent to Rate form, you have a few options:
- Review your current policy and determine if you have the right level of coverage.
- Call your agent and see if you can make any coverage adjustments.
- Shop around and see if you can find a more affordable option with a different provider.
Recent legislation was passed to help bring transparency to the Consent to Rate process, and in North Carolina, it’s definitely something to continue to follow and be aware of.
If you live in the mountain counties, your rates may be on the rise.
Back in 2014, North Carolina’s Insurance Commissioner rejected a request from the North Carolina Rate Bureau to increase homeowners insurance rates across the state by an average of 25 percent. Had it passed, it would have amounted to an increase of about $500 million in home insurance premiums, which the Rate Bureau determined was necessary to hedge against the risk of a catastrophic loss due to hurricanes or severe storms.
The Rate Bureau appealed this decision, but North Carolina’s Court of Appeals recently confirmed the commissioner’s original ruling. This decision will keep the average rate across most of the state unchanged, but it does allow rates in some of the mountain communities to rise by as much as 21 percent.
Here’s a list of the counties and premium increases that will take place if the ruling is not challenged further:
Potential Premium Increase
Haywood, Madison, Swain, Transylvania
Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon
Buncombe, Henderson, McDowell, Polk, Yancey
It’s unclear whether or not the Rate Bureau will appeal to the state Supreme Court, but again, particularly for folks in the mountain counties, this is another story you’ll want to follow.
The Bottom Line
Despite the instability that comes from an outdated ratemaking system, North Carolina homeowners can choose from a lot of really strong homeowners insurance providers — which is great, since, as a coastal state, North Carolina is susceptible to hurricanes, floods, inclement weather, and other major catastrophes. Use the quote tool to the right to shop around and compare rates in your area.
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