The Best Nebraska Homeowners Insurance Company
Nebraska’s position in Tornado Alley and its frequent hailstorms put home insurers in a tight spot. The typical annual premium is already about $100 above the national average, and if the current trends continue, it’s likely to rise even higher. This poses a challenge to Nebraska homeowners trying to find a great deal on their coverage, but it is still possible.
Shopping around is the best way to find the home insurance policy that’s right for you. By comparing coverages, discounts, and personalized quotes, you’ll find the insurer that can best protect you at a great value. Get started by entering your ZIP code into our quote tool to find options available in your area.
How We Chose the Best Homeowners Insurance in Nebraska
We chose the best homeowners insurance in Nebraska by following a similar methodology to the one we used in our national homeowners insurance review. First, we looked at which were the largest insurers in the state by market share. Then, we made sure that they were financially sound by checking with rating agencies like A.M. Best, Moody’s, and S&P. From there, it came down to what each company had to offer. We compared coverage options, available discounts, endorsements, and online tools. J.D. Power and Consumer Reports provided some insight into customer service and claims handling. Finally, we tested their services out for ourselves by speaking with agents and getting quotes.
The 5 Best Homeowners Insurance Companies in Nebraska
Nebraska Homeowners Insurance Reviews
Auto-Owners Insurance received high praise from Consumer Reports when it came to satisfaction with their agents, and scored an impressive 89/100. J.D. Power was a little more tempered in their praise, giving Auto-Owners a 822/1000 overall, placing it in the middle of the pack. While these numbers may seem insignificant, it indicates customers are happy with the agents, their courtesy, the amount and timeliness of claim payouts, and the overall claims process.
Policies are sold through a network of independent agents throughout the state. Auto-Owners doesn’t have an online quote tool, so you’ll have to call for detailed information on pricing and discounts. We found our rep to be friendly, knowledgeable, and prompt, and judging by the customer satisfaction ratings, this experience is typical.
Auto-Owners doesn’t offer many discounts beyond the standard multi-policy, claim-free, and protective device discounts. You can also save for being a loyal customer and redoing your roof, but that’s about it. However, most Auto-Owners customers report being satisfied with the price of their coverage, so the lack of discounts may not be a concern. Auto-Owners only performs a soft credit check, too, so it shouldn’t hurt your credit score to get a quote.
Farmers stands out for its unique endorsements, including cosmetic damage to things like shrubs and fences. There’s also Claim Forgiveness, an endorsement only Farmers offers, and it keeps your rates from going up following your first home insurance claim. For the most comprehensive protection, we recommend the Premier plan because it includes guaranteed replacement cost coverage.
Farmers gave us some of our most expensive quotes, at times coming out $500 more expensive than Travelers. But there are ways you can bring the cost down. Farmers offers the standard discounts to those who bundle home and auto, enroll in autopay, and remain claim-free. And if your home is certified “green” by the Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), you’ll receive a discount, too.
You can also lower your rates by opting for a higher deductible. Farmers offers standard dollar-value and percentage-based deductibles. They start as low as $500 or 0.5 percent of your home’s value and go as high as $10,000 or five percent. Like most Nebraska insurers, Farmers charges a separate deductible for wind and hail damage, which can also be either a flat rate or percentage-based.
Travelers offered similar coverage to Farmers, though its rates were usually cheaper. In one scenario, we were quoted $1,828 from Travelers and $2,362 from Farmers. For additional savings, you may qualify for discounts by being a new homeowner, enrolling in autopay, and bundling home and auto coverage. There’s also savings for installing deadbolt locks, burglar and fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and fire extinguishers. Like Farmers, it will offer discounts to green homes certified by LEED.
A higher deductible will also bring your premiums down, but Travelers doesn’t give you as many choices as Farmers. The lowest deductible option is $1,500 and there is no option to choose a percentage-based homeowners deductible. Like Farmers, Travelers charges a separate wind and hail deductible to account for the costly nature of these claims. This ranges from one to five percent of your home’s value, or $1,500 to $5,000 if you prefer a standard dollar-value amount. You can also opt out of wind and hail coverage altogether, though we don’t recommend this due to Nebraska’s windy nature.
Travelers fell a little behind Farmers in terms of endorsements. In line with its green home discounts, Travelers has a green home coverage endorsement. This pays to repair your home with eco-friendly building materials. One common endorsement that’s missing is ordinance and law coverage. This important protection pays for any additional costs necessary to bring your home up to code following a claim. It’s especially important for older homes, so if you own one of these, you may want to go with Auto-Owners or Farmers.
EMC Insurance is sold through a network of independent agents throughout the state. Because of this, the customer experience can vary widely from one agent to the next. We had to call a couple different agencies before we could find one that wasn’t too busy to help us, but the agent we eventually spoke with was very friendly. Because it is too small to appear in J.D. Power and Consumer Reports’ surveys, we couldn’t feel confident recommending it over the three companies listed above.
Shopping around is the best way to find a great deal, so it’s still worth pulling a quote from EMC Insurance. It offers rare coverage options you can’t find with any other insurer on this list, like equipment breakdown protection. This will pay for any repairs needed to your home appliances or systems, like the furnace or air conditioning. If you bundle home and auto, you’ll also get pet medical and emergency lockout coverage plus a single deductible if both your car and home are damaged in the same accident. On top of all that, replacement cost coverage — usually an optional endorsement — is automatically included with all policies.
You must call in order to get a quote. Your agent will ask you a series of questions about your home’s construction, so make sure you know the details of any renovations or prior claims. You also have to hand over your SSN. This isn’t ideal when you just want a quick estimate, but the soft credit check won’t hurt your score.
Farmers Mutual of Nebraska
Farmers Mutual of Nebraska — not to be confused with Farmers Insurance —is another company that sells homeowners insurance through a network of independent agents. Many of these agents also sell EMC Insurance, so you may be able to get quotes for both at once. You’ll need to know the details of your home’s construction when you call, so make sure you have this on hand.
There isn’t a lot of information about its policies on its website, so you’ll have to call an agent with any questions. It covers all the basics and you can purchase extra endorsements for water and sewer backup, schedule valuables, and replacement cost coverage. As for discounts, there are all the standard ones like multi-policy, claim-free, and installing protective devices, but you can also save by updating your home and installing an impact-resistant roof. That’s not a bad idea considering all the hail Nebraska gets.
Farmers Mutual of Nebraska was too small to make the Consumer Reports and J.D. Power customer satisfaction surveys, so we can’t tell you much about them other than our own experience. Our agent was friendly, and when we told him we were new to the area, he was happy to give us advice on what coverages to choose. While we can’t say for sure, the fact that the company is the largest insurer in the state is a pretty good indication that it treats its customers well.
Nebraska is home to some 5,849 active duty military members and we would be remiss to not mention USAA. Unlike the last two providers in our list, USAA consistently made the grade with an impressive 92/100 on Consumer Reports and a stellar 891/100 on J.D. Power — the best score by a mile. Not only can you expect great customer service but a superlative experience regarding their agents, claims process, and payment.
That said, you should know that USAA is exclusive to both active and former military service members. If, however, you serve or have an immediate relative who’s a member, it’s definitely worth looking into when shopping for quotes.
Guide to Nebraska Homeowners Insurance
Insurance rates are set to rise
It might surprise you, given Nebraska’s above-average premiums, but insurers don’t make very much money in the state. According to a recent study, between 2011 and 2016, 93.8 cents of every dollar insurers collected was paid out in claims. That’s the highest loss ratio of any state in the country. And while it may sound like a good thing that all your premiums are going to help needy homeowners, it may actually spell bad news for the future of the state’s home insurance market.
Insurance companies need your premiums for more than just paying out claims. That’s also how they keep the lights on and pay their employees. With all the money that’s going toward claims, it can put a financial strain on the business, and if that keeps up, it can threaten the financial solvency of the entire company, and it may not be able to pay out when it needs to. More commonly, insurers will pull out of the Nebraska market altogether to avoid this fate.
The other option is to raise insurance premiums, and that’s something Nebraska homeowners should be prepared for. Charging more will enable more insurers to remain in the market, giving you more options. Plus, you won’t have to worry about the companies being unable to meet their financial obligations when the time comes.
Flood insurance could be increasing too
The upswing in severe storms in Nebraska has put a serious strain on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). In place since 1968, the program has failed to keep pace with the times and it landed itself $24 billion in debt before Congress stepped in. Now, in order to keep the program alive, it must recoup its losses, and that means charging consumers more.
Many Nebraska residents have reported their flood insurance rates rising by hundreds of dollars in the last few years and that trend could continue. Unfortunately, if you live in a flood zone, there’s no way around it because mortgage lenders require homeowners to carry this coverage.
Fortunately, there are some ways to bring the costs down. You can have an elevation survey done, which will assess the true flooding risk at your property and possibly result in a lower rate. You can also opt for a higher flood insurance deductible in exchange for lower premiums. And if your city has gone above and beyond in terms of floodplain management — take a bow, Lincoln — you may get an even bigger discount.
Wind and hail claims have their own deductible
Wind and hail are the biggest vandals in the state, and they’re a key reason Nebraska’s home insurance rates are so high. There were 47 tornadoes in 2016 alone, and one 2014 storm was responsible for 40,000 hail claims in Omaha. With damage that costly and widespread, insurers have had to take steps to protect themselves and their financial solvency, so that they can keep operating within the state.
One of these steps is a separate wind and hail deductible. Nearly every insurer in the state requires this, and it goes into effect whenever you file a wind or hail claim. These deductibles may either be standard dollar amounts or a percentage of your home’s value. Wind and hail deductibles are usually quite a bit higher than your standard deductible. For example, Farmers lets you choose a standard deductible as low as $500. Its minimum wind and hail deductible is $1,500. And a basic Travelers home insurance policy comes with a 1 percent wind and hail deductible, though flat rates are available.
When choosing your home insurance coverages, think carefully about what you can afford. Going with a higher deductible will bring your premiums down significantly, but that may not be an option for everyone. Choose the highest amount you would feel comfortable paying out in the event of a claim. And don’t forget about percentage-based deductibles, too. Depending on the value of your home, these could come out to be cheaper than the flat rate options.
Nebraska Homeowners Insurance FAQ
Is homeowners insurance mandatory in Nebraska?
No, you do not need homeowners insurance in order to legally own or live in a home. However, most financial institutions that hand out mortgages will require you to have some form of homeowners insurance as part of their approvals process. That said, we highly recommend homeowners insurance if you are living in Nebraska. With all the damage that can come from tornadoes and hail, you can’t afford not to have it.
What is the best home insurance in Nebraska?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best home insurance provider will depend on a number of right for you. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to your home, it’s age, location, construction materials, and how much you’re willing to pay for additional coverage against the inclement weather. Start with our top five, but don’t stop there. Get as many quotes as you can and make an informed decision from there.
Why is Nebraska home insurance so expensive?
At the moment, the average annual premium in Nebraska comes out to about $1,360 which is $187 more than the national average. However, a lot of that price is related to the dangers of the weather in Nebraska. Nestled well within “Tornado Alley,” it’s not uncommon for Nebraska residents to find themselves bracing against the annual storm of wind, hail, and extravagant rainfall. This can lead to a rise in claims from hail damage to flooding and water damage. Paying out these claims (and the frequency of these claims) means that insurance companies need to raise their rates to keep up.