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 or tornadoes. This last concern has insurance companies itching to raise rates. In response to recent coastal storms, the North Carolina Rate Bureau has proposed a statewide increase of 18.7 percent. The last time the bureau requested an increase was in 2012, and then the North Carolina Department of Insurance granted less than half — they asked for 17.7 and settled for 7.7. The current NCDOI stands against this new increase too, but final word won’t come till July 2018.

With the dual threat of stormy weather and raising rates, it’s important to insure with a provider who levies fair premiums and offers great customer service. There are great homeowners insurance providers in NC that do both, and can help you find the right coverage for your home.

The average home insurance premium in North Carolina comes in at just over $1,000 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 below.

North Carolina Homeowners Insurance Reviews

Nationwide

Nationwide boasts 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 study, Nationwide received a 4 out of 5 for Claims Experience, besting both State Farm and Allstate, which both received a 3. 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.

The less you know about insurance, from the purchasing process through holding your ground on a claim, the more it’ll 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. Educational resources like these are a great asset, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer.

USAA

The claim-filing process is probably one of the most important factors 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. In Consumer Reports’ Homeowners Insurance study, USAA came in as the overall runner-up, besting 12 other major competitors (including three of the providers we evaluated). 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 chances are higher than average that you do meet one of these requirements. If so, 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” NC Farm Bureau was issued. Financial strength ratings speak to a company’s ability to meet their ongoing insurance obligations — a.k.a., paying 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 insurance policy like homeowners, financial strength is important to keep an eye on — you want to know that your provider will keep their promises far down the road. With State Farm, you can rest assured that you’re signing on with a rock-solid company.

Across the board, State Farm is a well-rounded provider, with strong overall ratings from J.D.Power and positive customer experiences. 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.

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.

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 — 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 feature-rich. If your personal items are ever lost, stolen, or damaged, you’ll be happy you took the time to catalogue your belongings, and no one makes it easier than Allstate.

While you’ll be happy with the numbers you pay, you may not be happy with the numbers you recieve. 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, NC Farm Bureau Insurance Group is a good choice. The company’s website is minimal and outdated, it’s true, 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 all within three hours. That’s impressive. Even more impressive: All of 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 home insurance providers, it doesn’t appear on 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 experiences indicated that it is a strong and reliable company, well worth considering if you like to shop local when it comes to insurance.

Get the most out of your homeowners insurance

Comparing available discounts can help save hundreds on your premium.

The average home 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.

Discount Type 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 each discount above, here’s what would happen to a $1,000 premium:

Allstate Nationwide
Discount / Annual Savings Discount / Annual Savings
Multi-policy 9%/$90 6%/$60
Claims Free 6%/$60 6%/$60
Safe home / protective devices 4.5%/$45 4.5%/$45
Personal status (married / widowed) 1.5%/$15 1.5%/$15
Total Savings $210 $180

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. Either way, the only way to know is through gathering quotes.

What you need to know about Consent to Rate forms

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.

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 percent 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 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.

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.

Whether or not you sign, your rates may be on the rise

Even as Consent to Rate forms allow individual providers to set whatever premiums they deem reasonable for your home, the general body of insurors 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 18.7 percent, but ranging up to 21.9 percent in Wake and Durham counties. Some mountainous regions in western North Carolina would see a small decrease — around 8 percent.

The North Carolina Department of Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has put a halt to the Rate Bureau’s plans, opening the discussion up to public commentary and finally a hearing in July 2018.

The Bottom Line

The instability that comes from an outdated ratemaking system, plus potential statewide increases, means North Carolina homeowners need strong insurance providers they can rely on. We’ve pegged five dependable providers; use the quote tool below to shop around and compare rates in your area.