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By Anne Dennon, Staff Writer

The Best Homeowners Insurance Companies in North Carolina

Homeowners in North Carolina share similar concerns with many of their neighboring states: inclement weather in the mountains, hurricanes on the coastline, the threat of flooding, and tornadoes. The average home insurance premium in North Carolina comes in at just over $1,000 per year, but in response to recent coastal storms, the North Carolina Rate Bureau last December proposed a statewide increase of 17.4%. The final word on the increase is yet to come, but the dual threat of stormy weather and rising rates means it’s important to insure with a provider that levies fair premiums and offers great customer service.

The 5 Best Homeowners Insurance Companies in North Carolina

North Carolina Homeowners Insurance Reviews

Nationwide

Nationwide's strong all-around performance, prompt and courteous customer service, and a painless claims process brought them to the front of the pack with both J.D.Power and Consumer Reports. In Consumer Reports’ homeowners insurance guide, Nationwide received a score of 86 for customer satisfaction, besting both State Farm and Allstate. As for endorsements, Nationwide tied for first, matching the coverage offered by USAA, Allstate, and State Farm.

Nationwide edged out USAA as our recommended pick because of its inclusive membership — anyone can apply for insurance with Nationwide, while only military-affiliated individuals can receive coverage through USAA. Nationwide also offers free resources to all who are considering coverage. The less you know about insurance, from the purchasing process through holding your ground on a claim, the more it could cost you. Nationwide makes building a knowledge base easy, with a resource center that has dozens of articles covering everything from home insurance basics to maintaining the pipes in your home.

USAA

The claim-filing process is an important factor to consider when selecting a homeowners insurance company. And that’s exactly where USAA shines. From communicating with an agent, to filing paperwork, to receiving a satisfying estimate, USAA keeps the claims process from becoming a disaster in itself. Consumer Reports’ homeowners insurance guide awards USAA a score of 92 — besting 13 other major competitors including 3 of the providers we evaluated.

USAA may very well have been our recommended pick if it weren’t for the limitations on membership. To qualify for membership, you, your spouse, or your parents must have served in the military. North Carolina has the third largest military population in the U.S., so many people in the state will meet one of these requirements. For those who do, USAA is a great choice.

State Farm

State Farm boasts robust financial strength. Together with USAA, it’s the only provider in our lineup to receive the superior A++ rating from AM Best, outranking the A+ received by Allstate and Nationwide, and the A grade NC Farm Bureau was issued. Financial strength ratings speak to a company’s ability to meet their ongoing insurance obligations — aka paying your claims. While an A rating is still considered excellent, financial strength is important to keep an eye on — with State Farm, you can rest assured that you’re signing with a provider that will keep its promises far down the road.

Across the board, State Farm is a well-rounded provider, with strong overall customer ratings, but the provider was outperformed by at least two others in claims management, customer service, and discounts. While State Farm’s multi-policy discount can knock up to 17 percent off your premium if you bundle with auto insurance, that’s not quite as competitive as the 20 percent offered by Nationwide. In any case, discounts are also available from State Farm if you remain claims free or if you have home security features in your home.

Allstate

Among the providers we evaluated, Allstate was the clear standout for discounts. The multi-policy discount can save you up to 30 percent on your premium when you bundle home and auto policies. 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 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. 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.

While you’ll be happy with the numbers you pay, you might not be happy with the numbers you receive. According to the customers surveyed by Consumer Reports, satisfaction with claim payout amounts hovered at “Good,” while all our other contenders got a green light with “Very Good” or, in the case of USAA, “Excellent.”

NC Farm Bureau Insurance Group

If you prefer to work directly with an agent, North Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance Group is a good choice. The company’s website is minimal and outdated, offering no online quote tool and very little information on coverage and discounts. But they do make it easy to connect with an agent.

We reached out to six NC Farm Bureau agents for additional coverage information and received a response from each within three hours. That’s impressive. Even more impressive: All the agents were helpful, knowledgeable, and offered to schedule another call to continue our discussion. One agent even sent us a personal email indicating she would be out of the office for the week.

Because NC Farm Bureau doesn’t have the national reach of North Carolina’s other top providers, it doesn’t appear on some major rating guides. While we can’t harness the same consumer feedback, and NC Farm Bureau can’t secure the same lofty financial ratings, our experience indicated it is a strong and reliable company, well worth considering if you like to shop local when it comes to insurance.

Guide to North Carolina Homeowners Insurance

Compare discounts to save on your premium

The average homeowners insurance premium in North Carolina is roughly $1,000 per year, which is about $83 per month. That number can take a healthy cut if you secure discounts through your provider. Most homeowners insurance companies — including all five we evaluated — offer a variety. Selecting a provider with discounts that match your circumstances can be a great way to keep premiums low. To illustrate how discounts can lead to premium savings, we compared a few similar discounts from Allstate and Nationwide.

Allstate Nationwide
Multi-Policy 30% 20%
Claims Free 20% 20%
Safe home / protective devices 15% 15%
Personal status (married / widowed) 5% 5%

Note that the amounts listed above are the maximum amount for each discount. The exact discount you receive will vary based on where you live and the coverage you select. But even if you qualified for just 30 percent of the discounts listed above for a $1,000 premium, it could lead to significant savings. 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. Either way, the only way to know is through gathering quotes.

North Carolina Homeowners Insurance FAQ

How much is homeowners insurance in North Carolina?

The average home insurance premium in North Carolina comes in at just over $1,000 per year. This is lower than the national average of $1,173. That said, discounts and locations can impact rates, so it’s always best to compare quotes. To get a sense of the rates for your home and your area, feel free to use our quote tool.

What are Consent to Rate forms?

Homeowners receive Consent to Rate forms when the insurance provider determines the level of risk has increased to a level that goes beyond 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.

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% of homeowner policies in North Carolina were charged a rate higher than the established NCRB rate, up from 23% in 2010. 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.

North Carolina’s ratemaking system complicates homeowners insurance, but recent legislation was passed to help bring transparency to the Consent to Rate process. Be sure you can access and understand any Consent to Rate forms before signing any homeowners insurance policy.

Why does North Carolina have 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.

North Carolina is one of only two states that continues to use this 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. While they are not ideal, they are often necessary, so we recommend reading a guide before you sign.

Are rates rising in North Carolina?

Even as Consent to Rate forms allow individual providers to set whatever premiums they deem reasonable for your home, the general body of insurers in North Carolina is looking to increase rates. In an effort to hedge against catastrophic loss due to hurricanes or severe storms, the North Carolina Rate Bureau has proposed a statewide rate increase that would swell costs by an average of 17.4 percent. But before any decision is made the issue is being opened to public commentary.

The Best North Carolina Homeowners Insurance: Summed Up

Nationwide
USAA
State Farm
Allstate
NC Farm Bureau Insurance Group
A.M. Best Rating
A+
A++
A++
A+
A
J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Rating
3/5
5/5
3/5
3/5
N/A
Consumer Reports Overall Satisfaction Rating
86
92
82
80
N/A

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