A good homeowners insurance policy can provide peace of mind and security to homeowners, as they can be assured they’ll be financially protected if disaster strikes. Homeowners insurance can provide financial assistance when policyholders need it most, covering the cost to repair structural damage, replace damaged belongings, and bring the home back to its former condition following a covered event.
California homeowners may need to weigh factors that wouldn’t typically affect residents of other states when considering their homeowners insurance options. California homes may be susceptible to potential earthquakes, wildfire, and inclement weather that can damage property and personal possessions. Beyond those unique environmental conditions, California homeowners will want to take into account universal insurance concerns related to availability, eligibility, coverage, and cost. By taking some time to review their options, residents can find the best homeowners insurance California has to offer.
* California residents should note that some insurance companies have stopped offering property insurance in their state due to the growing risk of catastrophes such as wildfires along with increased construction costs and other concerns. As of May 27, 2023, State Farm is no longer accepting new applications for homeowners insurance from California residents. See State Farm’s statement here. As of June 2, 2023, Allstate is also no longer accepting new applications for homeowners insurance from California residents, and Farmers Insurance and AIG have since followed suit. This could be a growing trend, and residents will want to be certain that their preferred insurance company offers homeowners policies in California as an initial step in the selection process.
This post will be continuously updated to reflect the latest developments.
- BEST FOR LOW DEDUCTIBLES: Liberty Mutual
- BEST FOR SERVICE MEMBERS: USAA
- ALSO CONSIDER: Nationwide
What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Homeowners Insurance Companies in California
When searching for the best homeowners insurance in Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or any other part of California, residents will want to keep in mind that not all policies will be the perfect fit for every situation. Homeowners need to consider what factors matter most to them and weigh the different criteria accordingly to land on a plan that will meet their needs. After narrowing down the list of potential insurance providers to companies that operate in California, prospective customers may want to turn their attention to coverage terms, rates, deductibles, discounts, and the quote and claims processes.
Homeowners insurance typically covers the replacement value of the dwelling—that is, the amount of money needed to completely rebuild a house if it were to be destroyed or damaged to the point of being unsalvageable. In fact, home buyers are often required by their mortgage lenders to purchase an insurance policy that covers the full replacement value of the home in a worst-case scenario. Given that California homes may be threatened by catastrophic events such as earthquakes and wildfires, there’s all the more reason for homeowners to seek out an insurance policy that can cover the full replacement value of the insured property. California property values tend to be much higher than those in other parts of the country, so homeowners may require higher coverage amounts as well. Homeowners insurance policies will also have separate coverage limits for personal property—furniture, clothing, electronics, etc. Depending on the policy terms, personal property coverage may factor in the depreciated value of covered items when a claim is processed, which could lead to a smaller payout. Figuring out how much homeowners insurance is needed is a critical step for homeowners to take when shopping for coverage under any circumstances.
A standard homeowners insurance policy will likely cover certain events such as fire, wind, hail, and theft, as well as provide liability coverage to protect homeowners if someone is injured on their property or if the policyholders themselves are found to be liable for causing damage or injury to a third party. Insurance policies may exclude certain scenarios from their coverage terms, so it’s always a good idea for homeowners to check what exactly is covered with a particular plan. While shopping around for homeowners insurance and comparing providers, property owners may also find that some coverage terms are included with a standard policy at one company, but are only available as extra endorsements with another. For instance, insurance providers may build identity theft protection coverage into their standard homeowners insurance plans, but that will not always be the case with every company.
Perhaps the most important cost consideration to weigh when looking for the best homeowners insurance in Northern California or Southern California is the insurance premium with each provider. This rate is the amount that policyholders will pay in return for coverage. Insurance premiums may be assessed on a monthly, quarterly, semiannual, or annual basis. In some cases, payment options may be dictated by the method of payment. Homeowners who have an escrow account, for instance, may have a portion of their premium collected by their lender on a monthly basis. The lender then pays the premium directly to the insurance company on behalf of the policyholder as a way to ensure they are carrying current coverage for their home.
Insurance companies look at various factors to determine an individual’s premium, including the amount of coverage required; the size of the deductible; the policyholder’s claim history; and the value, age, and location of the home. Insurance premiums can vary from provider to provider as well, so it’s always a good idea for homeowners to try to gather quotes from different companies on the same day to compare rates and find an affordable option.
Shopping around for a good rate can be helpful to homeowners when it comes to avoiding overpaying for an insurance policy. Getting quotes from multiple companies can also provide homeowners with insight into the types of coverage options that are available so they can find a policy that meets all of their needs. Insurance companies may provide different ways for prospective customers to get a quote on a policy. Although online quote tools have become far more common over the years, not all companies support online quotes. In some cases, online quote availability may be determined by a customer’s ZIP code, and California residents may find that they need to speak to an agent even if an insurance company has an online quote platform.
Companies that have local agents will likely offer in-person quotes, but that may not always be the case. Requesting a quote over the phone is another potential option, and working with a representative or agent may be preferable to homeowners who would like some guidance when selecting the terms of their coverage.
When the time comes to file a claim, it’s important that homeowners are comfortable with the steps required, such as providing any documentation or information needed to process the claim. Online claims platforms can be especially helpful because homeowners can upload images if necessary and send additional documents upon request. Some insurance companies have dedicated mobile apps that allow policyholders to manage the entire claims workflow from their smartphone or tablet. Homeowners may prefer the option to check in on their claim status right from their phone without needing to call an agent for assistance.
On the other hand, some policyholders may prefer to work directly with a claims representative who can answer questions, provide updates, and offer a more hands-on experience. When looking at the claims process offered by each of the best homeowners insurance companies in California, customers may want to consider response times as well—in particular, how long it will take for a claim to be paid out upon approval.
Insurance premiums are not the only cost consideration for customers to take into account when vetting the best homeowners insurance in Southern California or Northern California. A policy’s deductible can impact the overall cost of coverage for a homeowner as well. When a policyholder files a claim, the payout they receive subtracts the amount of their deductible. Deductibles can vary quite a bit across insurance providers, and many companies offer different options for customers to consider. It’s also possible that deductibles will be determined based on a percentage of the total coverage amount rather than a flat fee—although some companies offer both options for policyholders to choose from.
Selecting a higher deductible will often lead to a lower insurance premium, so homeowners may need to weigh the up-front cost of coverage against the long-term impact of a higher deductible. Another consideration to take into account is that homeowners insurance policies may set separate deductibles for different types of coverage. For instance, a homeowner may owe a different deductible on a property damage claim than they would if their claim resulted from a natural disaster.
Insurance companies often offer add-on options for customers to purchase and extend their coverage. For instance, homeowners with stand-alone structures on their property—such as a tool shed, gazebo, or detached garage—may want to buy extended other-structures coverage to protect their entire property rather than just their main home structure. Policyholders may also be able to purchase endorsements to either include or expand coverage for water backups, high-value possessions, sinkhole damage, or identity theft.
California homeowners may want to check for coverage options that can protect them against threats specific to their state. Earthquake insurance, for instance, may be available as a separate policy that homeowners can purchase in addition to their homeowners plan. Taking advantage of such policy options can help homeowners build out their insurance plan to their exact specifications so they can feel confident that they will be covered when needed.
Opportunities to lower insurance premiums may be available through rate discounts and other benefits. Insurance companies often offer discounted rates to homeowners under certain circumstances. One common example is a discount on home and auto bundles. Companies may offer lower rates for bundling other types of insurance, such as life or umbrella policies, as well. Policyholders could also qualify for discounts by doing one or more of the following:
- Enrolling in automatic payments
- Installing certain safety devices in their home
- Sticking with the same provider for a set amount of time
- Switching insurance companies.
California residents will also want to be on the lookout for discount opportunities specific to their state, including lower insurance premiums for homes that have installed wildfire mitigation features. By taking advantage of these various discounts, homeowners may be able to reduce the total cost of coverage for their insurance plan.
AM Best Rating
Checking an insurance company’s financial standing and credit history can often be a wise move for homeowners. Companies with strong finances may be more likely to continue providing high-quality insurance coverage while also maintaining the resources to pay out claims without delay. Assessing the financial health of an insurance company is a relatively easy task for homeowners, thanks to the ratings bestowed by AM Best. This organization is an independent credit rating agency that specializes in the insurance industry. After reviewing a company’s credit and finances, AM Best will give it a rating that can range from A++ (“Superior”) on the high end to D (“Poor) on the low end. These ratings indicate the level of confidence that AM Best has in the organization to continue meeting its obligations as an insurance provider. With that in mind, homeowners may want to look for an insurance company with a higher AM Best rating for added peace of mind.
Our Top Picks
When searching for the best homeowners insurance companies in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other California locales, we looked for providers that could offer superior coverage, affordable rates, ample discount opportunities, user-friendly customer experiences, and financial stability.
Why It Made the Cut: With the availability of earthquake, hurricane, and tropical storm coverage, Liberty Mutual could provide sufficient financial protection against many environmental hazards that threaten California homes.
Liberty Mutual offers many benefits that may appeal to California residents looking for homeowners insurance tailored to their state’s unique environmental circumstances. For instance, each policy includes standard coverage for tropical storms and hurricanes. Although hurricanes do not often strike California with the same force and severity as in other parts of the country, California can frequently experience residual effects from these events that may include flash flooding and cyclone damage. Homeowners can also purchase earthquake protection as an add-on endorsement, extending the scope of coverage to include seismic activity that could damage their property—and without necessarily needing to purchase a separate policy from a dedicated earthquake insurance provider.
Liberty Mutual’s A rating from AM Best is somewhat low for this market, but that ranking is still quite high overall, reflecting an excellent credit rating. Homeowners may also find that there are few opportunities to apply discounts to help lower their insurance premiums. That being said, policyholders may be able to adjust their total cost of coverage depending on the deductible they select. In Liberty Mutual’s case, customers can choose a deductible as low as $500, which can result in a larger payout when filing a claim.
- Quote process: Online, phone, agent
- Claims process: Online, phone, agent
- Deductibles: $500 to $2,500
- Discounts: Claims-free, safe homeowner, early shopper
- AM Best rating: A
- Standard hurricane and tropical storm coverage
- Earthquake damage add-on available
- Low $500 deductible option
- Relatively low “A” AM Best rating
- Limited discount opportunities
Why It Made the Cut: USAA offers replacement cost coverage with every homeowners insurance plan, along with a variety of other policies for service members to build out their coverage to suit their insurance needs.
As an organization, USAA is exclusively focused on the needs of active and former service members, providing insurance policies tailored to this particular audience. In fact, USAA membership is restricted to service members and their immediate family, so not all California residents will be eligible. Prospective customers interested in a homeowners policy will need to sign up for a USAA membership before they can receive a quote online. As such, it’s difficult to say what deductible options policyholders may have available to them without first applying for USAA membership and then going through the quote process.
Despite those potential hurdles, there are plenty of reasons for homeowners to consider USAA for their insurance needs. For instance, the company offers replacement cost coverage with every homeowners policy, which is pretty uncommon for this type of insurance. Replacement cost coverage does not account for depreciation when determining the value of covered possessions, so homeowners may receive a larger payout through USAA. The company also offers plenty of other policies beyond homeowners insurance for California residents to consider, including coverage for boats, classic cars, ATVs, and even personal aircraft. Using one insurance provider for all coverage needs could make it far easier for homeowners to manage their various policies. USAA also holds the highest possible rating from AM Best, signifying strong credit and finances. This A++ rating could provide peace of mind to homeowners who want to be sure that their insurance company has the assets to pay out any claims without difficulty.
- Quote process: Online (for USAA members), phone
- Claims process: App, online, phone
- Deductibles: Unknown
- Discounts: Multi-policy, protective device, connected home, loyalty, claims-free
- AM Best rating: A++
- Standard replacement cost coverage
- Wide selection of additional policies available
- A++ AM Best rating
- USAA membership limited to service members and their families
- Online quote process restricted to USAA members
- Unknown deductible options
Why It Made the Cut: Nationwide offers extra perks and benefits that may appeal to California homeowners, including home renovation credits, smart home monitoring system discounts, and free insurance consultations.
Nationwide presents many different ways for homeowners to save money that go beyond lower insurance premiums or discounted bundles. For instance, policyholders may be able to receive a credit to help pay for certain home renovations, including plumbing, electrical, and HVAC system upgrades. This add-on option could help homeowners save money on expensive—yet necessary—home improvements. Another perk for homeowners to consider is Nationwide’s smart home insurance program, which provides policyholders with a 50 percent discount on a Notion Home Monitoring System. This technology monitors the home for signs of water leaks, fires, and break-ins, helping keep homeowners and their property safe and secure.
Although Nationwide offers homeowners insurance in California, residents will need to speak to an agent either over the person or in person to get a quote. Because of that limitation, it’s not clear what deductible options are available for homeowners. Customers who sign up for a policy can adjust their coverage terms after taking advantage of Nationwide’s On Your Side review, which is a free consultation and insurance assessment with one of the company’s insurance experts. This review checks for potential discounts that homeowners may be eligible for, coverage gaps that they may want to address, and unnecessary coverage that may want to remove to lower their premiums.
- Quote process: Phone, agent
- Claims process: Online, phone, agent
- Deductibles: Unknown
- Discounts: Multi-policy, home purchase, protective device, prior insurance, claims-free, gated community, roof rating, smart home
- AM Best rating: A+
- Home renovation credit available
- 50 percent discount on smart home monitoring system
- Free homeowners insurance consultation
- Online quote unavailable for California ZIP codes
- Unknown deductible options
Liberty Mutual is a great option for California homeowners thanks to the availability of earthquake, hurricane, and tropical storm coverage.
How We Chose the Best Homeowners Insurance Companies in California
When deciding which companies to highlight as the best homeowners insurance providers in California, we looked at coverage options that would appeal specifically to residents of this state. For instance, the ability to purchase or receive additional coverage for earthquakes, tropical storms, or sinkholes factored into our recommendations. Cost was a major consideration as well, and we reviewed available rates, discounts, and deductibles wherever possible to compare options across different companies.
Experiential factors are also important when selecting a homeowners insurance policy, so we looked into the quote and claims processes for each company to get a better sense of what customers can expect when working with each provider. AM Best ratings were another metric that we considered, as these rankings can reflect the long-term outlook of a company and its ability to continue meeting its financial obligations, especially in regard to paying out claims to customers.
Before You Choose One of the Best Homeowners Insurance Companies in California
When searching for the best and cheapest home insurance in California, it’s always important for customers to shop around before making a decision. By doing so, customers can compare rates and coverage options and then select the right policy for their circumstances. It may be worthwhile for them to get quotes from several insurance companies during the selection process. When comparing what each insurance provider has to offer, prospective customers may want to look beyond premiums and rates and consider the total coverage that a company can deliver. In California, that may mean looking for insurance providers that can facilitate earthquake coverage in some capacity, for instance. Homeowners may want to take stock of the type and amount of coverage they need before starting to gather California home insurance quotes so they have a good sense of what to look for in an insurance policy.
Cost of Opting for One of the Best Homeowners Insurance Companies in California
How much is homeowners insurance in California? Location can have a big impact on the total cost of a homeowners insurance policy, and California residents may find that they will pay more than homeowners in other states due to their proximity to fault lines, coastal areas, and wildfire danger zones. Premiums are also affected by the estimated cost to replace a home, and with the state’s high property values, property owners may face higher home insurance rates in California. Also, homes with certain amenities like swimming pools and hot tubs may come with higher rates to insure because of the possible risk of injury.
Other cost factors for policyholders to consider include the deductible that they select; higher deductibles usually result in lower rates and vice versa. A homeowner’s claim history could influence insurance premiums too. A policyholder with a track record for filing claims—even if they are entirely justifiable—may be assessed higher premiums than a homeowner who has never filed a claim. Companies may also offer discounts, such as a lower rate on policy bundles, that can help lower the cost of coverage. The best home and auto insurance in California may be able to cover a policyholder’s most expensive assets at an affordable rate.
The Advantages of Opting for One of the Best Homeowners Insurance Companies in California
The best homeowners insurance provides much-needed financial protection in the event that a home or its contents are damaged by a covered event. This type of insurance also offers liability coverage in the event that the homeowner is legally responsible for causing injury to a third party or damage to another person’s property. For instance, homeowners insurance may help pay for damages if a tree on the policyholder’s property falls and damages the roof of a neighbor’s house. The best home insurance companies in California can offer plenty of reasons for residents to seek out a policy with them:
- Additional coverage options for earthquake or tropical storm damage;
- Discounts on policies insuring property with wildfire mitigation upgrades; and
- User-friendly online resources and tools to help homeowners find the right policy for their circumstances.
With so many factors to weigh, finding the right insurance policy isn’t necessarily an easy task. California homeowners may have even more hurdles to face when factoring in potential concerns like the risk of earthquakes and wildfires. It can be helpful to address some of the most common questions that homeowners have about this type of insurance, especially as they relate to California properties.
Q. What is the average cost of homeowners insurance in California?
According to Insurance.com, the average homeowners insurance cost in California is $1,380 per year. However, there are many variables that can influence the total cost of a policy—coverage limits, extra endorsements, and discounts, to name a few—so homeowners may find that they could pay significantly more or less than that amount.
Q. What are three big factors in determining the best homeowners insurance company?
There are many factors that residents will want to consider when searching for the best homeowners insurance company in California, but eligibility, coverage, and cost are especially important. Eligibility requirements determine if a homeowner can qualify for a policy. Coverage limits and options will impact what insurance will pay for and how much money the policyholder may receive from a claim. Insurance costs impact the total value of a plan and, in some situations, could act as a barrier if they are too high to fit in a homeowner’s budget. Because of high property values and environmental risks, residents may have trouble finding cheap homeowners insurance in California.
Q. Does homeowners insurance in California cover damage done by wildfire?
As noted by the Insurance Information Institute, wildfire damage is typically covered by homeowners insurance. Coverage often includes both fire and smoke damage, and depending on the terms of the policy, insurance companies may help pay for living expenses if the property is uninhabitable for an extended period of time. Condo owners may need to check with their condo association to determine whose insurance will cover damages. The best condo insurance in California may be able to help pay for any damages to the unit itself along with a condo owner’s personal possessions.
Q. When do I need to renew homeowners insurance?
Homeowners insurance policies often renew automatically on an annual basis unless the policyholder requests a cancellation. That may not always be the case, though, and policyholders may need to opt in for another year’s worth of coverage. In either scenario, the insurance company will likely notify the homeowner within 30 to 60 days of their policy end date that they need to renew.
Q. Is homeowners insurance required in California?
California property owners are not legally required to obtain homeowners insurance, but mortgage companies will often insist that home buyers show proof of insurance before approving a home loan. Even without any legal requirements, it’s still a good idea to protect a primary residence with homeowners insurance to help pay for damages to a home caused by covered events and to replace damaged or stolen property. Before buying a policy, it may be worth checking the types of homeowners insurance available so property owners can find the right plan for their circumstances.
Q. Can I pay for my homeowners insurance on a monthly basis?
Insurance companies often give policyholders different payment options to choose from, which may include monthly installments. However, these options may be limited to customers who make payments directly to the insurance provider rather than through an escrow account—in which case the mortgage company pays the insurance premium directly to the insurance provider.
Q. Does homeowners insurance cover earthquake damage?
Standard homeowners insurance policies typically do not cover earthquake damage. Insurance companies may offer earthquake coverage as a separate policy or endorsement, though. Homeowners interested in this type of coverage may want to review their options with the best earthquake insurance companies.