The Best Homeowners Insurance Companies in Iowa
With its rolling hills, sprawling farmland, and salt-of-the-earth residents, Iowa is quintessentially Midwestern. Along with pleasant surroundings, the state’s geography results in unpredictable weather. “We can have all four seasons in Iowa in a seven day period,” says Jon Bronemann of Cedar Falls–based Jon Bronemann Home Inspections, LLC. In addition to temperature changes, Iowa has winter storms, hail, and tornadoes to contend with, all of which are important elements to consider when purchasing homeowners insurance.
With this in mind, we advise getting price quotes from various companies before making a decision. After all, premiums fluctuate based on numerous factors, including your home’s geography, age, and construction materials. Based on our research, which compares customer service, coverage, website experience, and discount options, we’ve found a few places for you to check out.
How We Found the Best Iowa Homeowners Insurance Companies
We employed a method similar to the one we used for our review on national providers to find the best homeowners insurance in Iowa. We began by finding the top five homeowners insurance providers in Iowa by total market share. Then, we carefully reviewed them based on several factors, beginning with standard coverage and endorsements, along with online educational materials, including useful articles and unique tools and discounts, which range from standard options, including savings for adding a security system or bundling your home and auto insurance to less common ones, such as installing a hail-resistant roof or living in a LEED-certified home . Then, we evaluated the companies’ financial stability based on ratings from economic stalwarts Moody’s, A.M. Best, and Standard & Poor’s before seeing how the insurers were viewed by JD Power and Associates and Consumer Reports, specifically its homeowners insurance survey, whose ratings are developed using input from 90,000 of its subscribers. Finally, to get a sense of the company’s premiums, policies, and customer service, we solicited a price quote from the insurers for a three-bedroom, two-bath home valued at $139,000 in Des Moines. Read on to see how Iowa’s the homeowners insurance providers stacked up.
The 5 Best Home Insurance Companies in Iowa
Iowa Homeowners Insurance Reviews
While it didn’t score the highest across the board, Nationwide was among the top insurers in each category. In particular, Nationwide goes the extra mile to provide homeowners with excellent coverage and customer service, making it our top choice for Iowa homeowners insurance.
We were particularly impressed with Nationwide’s Brand New Belongings and Better Roof Replacement options, which go above and beyond what most insurers offer. If items inside your home are damaged, destroyed, or stolen, it is standard for insurance companies to provide you with the actual cash value, or depreciated amount, of those items. Brand New Belongings goes one step further, not only giving you the actual cash value of your items, but paying the difference once you repair or replace those items. Similarly, Better Roof Replacement coverage ensures that if your roof needs to be replaced due to a covered event, it will be rebuilt using materials that can better withstand rain, hail, and strong winds, three weather concerns that are common throughout the state.
And if you do need to file a claim, Nationwide makes things as easy as possible by clearly laying out the process on its website, which also offers a handy glossary of homeowners insurance terms and detailed information on coverage options as well as discounts such as up to 20 percent off (compared to up to 17 percent with State Farm) when you bundle together home and auto coverage. We also appreciated that Nationwide let us obtain an online quote before talking to an agent. State Farm was the only other insurer that offered that option.
While Nationwide scored about average in customer satisfaction scores from J.D. Power and Associates, its high ratings on Consumer Reports more than made up for this. When it came to the ease of reaching an agent and the courtesy of said agent, Nationwide knocked it out of the park with “Excellent” ratings. They also earned high marks when it came to the simplicity of the claims process and the time it took to receive a payout. That last part is good since it likely means you won’t have to wait long to get the necessary funds when something needs fixing.
State Farm fell just short of being our top pick. The company received positive financial ratings from A.M. Best, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s, as well as average customer satisfaction scores from J.D. Power and Associates, and decent ratings on Consumer Reports’ homeowners insurance survey (a key rating based on input from 90,000 Consumer Reports subscribers). We found the company’s customer service to be excellent – within hours of getting an online quote, we received an offer from a local agent offering additional assistance. However, State Farm’s J.D. Power and Associates and Consumer Reports customer service and claims ratings were not much better than Nationwide’s.
The insurer’s website is also robust with an FAQ section and plenty of useful articles. We especially liked the online quote tool, which clearly spells out the coverage and was easy to adjust throughout the process.
Additionally, Nationwide and State Farm are the only insurers that let you obtain a quote before talking to an agent, which was a big selling point for us. There are definite benefits to working with an agent in person, we just prefer having our options clearly laid out in front of us before doing so.
Discounts were also an important factor in our evaluation, and State Farm offers quite a few. Most notable among State Farm’s discounts were the new roof and roof certification ones, which are particularly beneficial for Iowans looking to protect their homes from hail damage.
Overall, American Family Insurance is a good choice, just not as great of an option as some other companies. The company received average customer satisfaction scores, same as Nationwide and State Farm, but they scored lower when it came to Consumer Reports; especially with regards to the claims simplicity metric. That being said, its financial strength ratings were solid, just not exemplary.
American Family does offer plenty of savings opportunities via automatic payments and paperless statements, as well as upgraded home technology, ranging from wireless security systems and water mitigation devices to smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. However, the savings on your premium is low — only 5 percent, not nearly as significant as State Farm’s or Nationwide’s discounts.
The website also wasn’t our favorite: It does include numerous articles, calculators, and educational tools, including a home inventory app that lets you take upload pictures of your belongings with the purchase date and value. But if you want to receive an online quote, you’re out of luck. You must speak to an agent before receiving a quote. Similarly, the FAQ section simply directs you to call a local agent.
AmFam also emphasizes its customized coverage, and optional coverage for things like sewer backup and sump pump overflow are especially helpful for Iowans. However, they are standard fare for most insurers. That being said, if you have a home business or other uncommon element to your home, AmFam may be the best insurance option for you.
Both Iowa Farm Bureau and IMT ended up at the bottom of our list primarily due to a lack of information. Neither one received scores from JD Power and Associates or Consumer Reports for customer satisfaction, and there was limited information on the insurers’ financial strength. This is likely because both insurers are regional and thus significantly smaller than Nationwide, State Farm, and American Family.
Drawing on this limited information, IMT is the better of the two. IMT actually began as Iowa Mutual Tornado, Cyclone and Windstorm Insurance Association in 1883, so it has a long history in the area. Aside from being a regional providerer, IMT utilizes independent agents rather than selling insurance directly. There are certainly some advantages to this. However, because of the emphasis on a strong agent relationship, a quick online quote simply isn’t feasible.
In addition to lacking on online quote tool, IMT’s website pales in comparison to our top three picks. The site does provide some valuable information for current and potential customers alike, including a step-by-step claims checklist and tips for preparing for natural disasters and hazardous weather. But compared to the seemingly endless amount on national insurers’ sites, there was next to nothing on IMT’s site.
Iowa Farm Bureau
Like IMT, Iowa Farm Bureau is a small regional insurer, so there is limited information on its financial strength and customer service experiences. With this in mind, Iowa Farm Bureau’s residential equipment insurance made it stand out. Many insurers don’t offer this endorsement, which covers mechanical failure for appliances such as TVs, computers, air conditioners, and furnaces. Many homeowners could make use of this coverage, especially if they do not properly maintain their homes. We were also impressed with the bureau’s guaranteed replacement cost coverage, which pays up to 125 percent of the insured value of your home. This coverage can be particularly handy in the aftermath of a tornado or other storm, when damage throughout the area increases the cost of labor and materials.
Additionally, there is a small annual fee for membership to the bureau — roughly $40 for a non-farmer, depending on your location. While this is not an exorbitant cost, it is still a small deterrent.
Ultimately, however, we can’t confidently recommend Iowa Farm Bureau or IMT without more information. Both home insurers are worth looking into, though, as they may be able to offer a better perspective on local concerns than Nationwide, State Farm, or American Family Insurance can.
Guide to Iowa Homeowners Insurance
Prepare for Tornadoes, Hail, and Flooding
Iowa ranks sixth in the country for tornado frequency, with an average of 46 tornadoes annually, according to Iowa Public Television. Tornadoes are among the most violent storms on earth, traveling up to 100 mph and destroying everything in their path. Hail and flooding, which occur on their own and in conjunction with tornadoes can plenty of damage, too. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute found that homeowners claims related to wind or hail are the most frequent, and Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management shows that the state’s lead hazards also include heavy rains and flooding, ice storms, and blizzards.
Because of these weather concerns, it’s important for Iowa homeowners to include sewer backup and accidental water damage in their insurance policies. Beyond insurance, however, you can protect your home against inclement weather by investing in renovations. Bronemann is personally looking into several. “We’ve had two hail claims in the 14 years we’ve lived here. I’m just done with it,” he says. So, he plans on installing steel shingles and durable, hail-resistant engineered-wood siding.
Fortunately, most insurers — including Nationwide, IMT, and State Farm — recognize the value of these renovations and offer discounts to clients who undergo them. “You’re looking at a possible reduction in your monthly premium,” Bronemann says. “And ours was so big that it’s really helping us afford this jump from asphalt shingles to steel shingles.”
Still, upgrading your home should be viewed as a long-term investment — and you may need to remind yourself of that fact when you see the initial price tag. Home Advisor, for example, estimates the average total cost of engineered roof siding at between $3,000 and $5,000. Likewise, steel shingles cost up to $375 per roofing square compared to asphalt’s $100 per roofing square, according to Home Advisor estimates.
In the long run, however, these investments pay off. These renovations make it less likely you will have to spend time or money dealing with insurance claims. And with metal roofing in particular, you will cut down on your air-conditioning bills, in some cases by up to 40 percent.
Where You Live in Iowa Matters
When you’re shopping for homeowners insurance quotes in Iowa, bear in mind that where your home is situated can make just as much difference as its age and construction materials. Areas such as Cedar Rapids, located along the banks of the Cedar River, are more prone to flooding. This would require you to look into an additional flood insurance policy and that means you’d end up paying more in your monthly premiums.
Review Your Policy Regularly
That brings us to another important point: Review your insurance policy on a regular basis. “Every year, I do a check up with my agent,” Bronemann says. “And sometimes it results in a reduction of my premiums.”
Each year, before you you commit to renewing your policy, take some time to look it over. While not all insurers lay out the process on their website, as Nationwide does with its On Your Side Reviews, most insurance agents will be happy to go over your policy with you.
During the review, you should double check that all the information is accurate, including the size and construction of your home. After that, be sure to update your agent about recent or future renovations and other changes in your surroundings or home inventory. This is also a good time to check about any other discounts for which you may qualify. For example, if you installed a home-security system or replaced your plumbing, you might have done it out of necessity, without considering that it might save you money on insurance.
Iowa Homeowners Insurance FAQ
How much does homeowners insurance cost in Iowa?
When we put together our research for this review, we found Iowa’s average annual premiums to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $919 per year. This is slightly lower than the national average of $1,173. However, you might find a cheaper option based on where you live in the Hawkeye State and your home’s specs. That’s why we encourage you to shop around and get as many quotes as you can before you make a decision.
Is homeowners insurance mandatory in Iowa?
Unlike with a car, you do not need homeowners insurance to legally own a home. However, the absence of this coverage might limit you in other aspects. For example, you might have trouble getting a bank to sign off on a mortgage without homeowners insurance. Some financial institutions require this as part of their approvals process.
What coverages should I consider for my home in Iowa?
Thanks to winter storms and the high winds and hail that can precipitate tornadoes, it’s important that Iowa homeowners obtain sewer backup coverage and consider investing in protective renovations such as durable, hail-resistant roofs. Most of all, Iowans should make sure they’re getting the best price possible. To do so, they should regularly review their policy and shop around for coverage—and with the tool below, you can start comparing.