If there’s one thing we all hate, it’s the feeling that we’ve been fleeced — especially if it’s for a service we know we’re going to be paying on for years.
Like home insurance.
Home insurance calculators can be a useful first step on the road to finding the right homeowners policy for your budget. They’re free, fast, and can give you a ballpark idea of what to expect for a premium in your area. But this is as long as you do your homework first.
In this guide, we’re going to share a few of our favorite home insurance calculators. We’ll also show you how to estimate the amount of coverage you need in case you need a little help getting started.
Did You Know: Progressive Insurance pioneered comparison shopping.1 When they started back in 1993, they didn’t even have a website, which wouldn’t come until 1995.
Useful Home Insurance Calculators
Before you get your button fingers ready, here’s a quick disambiguation that’s going to come in handy.
Not all insurance calculators are calculators, strictly speaking.
Yep. You might click on a calculator, for instance, but end up on a comparison engine that pulls up multiple rates from different providers. Or you might land on an app that tells you how much people in your ZIP code pay for home insurance on average, or a webpage that starts off as a calculator but quickly transitions you into applying for a quote.
Are these pseudo calculators useful? Let’s put it this way: If you know your way around homeowners policies, you’re going to want to get to the quote- gathering process as quickly as possible.
On the other hand, if you’re just finding your legs with home insurance and want a baseline premium in your back pocket, a calculator can’t hurt.
On that note …
Pro Tip: German mathematician Wilhelm Schickard is the godfather of the home insurance calculator. A buddy of Johannes Kepler, Schickard built the first mechanical calculator in 1623. You couldn’t use Schickard’s calculator to price home insurance, but it was quite an advancement in an age when the average person couldn’t even tell time.
Progressive’s app starts off as a calculator. You answer a few basic questions, like how much coverage you want for dwelling and possessions and what your priority is (lower rate, more coverage, or something in between). Then Progressive morphs into a comparison engine, which makes sense. Progressive isn’t a single provider like, say, State Farm. They cooperate with a handful of other top underwriters. This is the same situation you’d find if you were shopping for a Geico homeowners policy, by the way.
The advantages of using Progressive’s calculator? You’re likely to get a cheaper rate with Progressive. And presumably since there’s a bigger pool of possible matches, you have better chances of getting matched with a policy that fits your needs exactly.
American Family Insurance
The American Family Insurance calculator is a bona fide home insurance calculator. You type in an address. The calculator spits out a quote — if they cover your area. It takes about 10 seconds and couldn’t be easier. (You don’t need to give AmFam any personal information either, which can feel invasive if you’re just quote hunting.) This makes the AmFam calculator a good place to go for a ballpark home insurance premium in your neck of the woods, especially if you haven’t done this before.
The AmFam calculator also says something about American Family Insurance as a company. They aren’t conflating a useful tool with a marketing tactic for new homeowners who just want a basic grasp of homeowners costs in their area. Frankly, that’s refreshing. That said, it isn’t clear where AmFam pulls their numbers from. (Our test rates were pretty cheap, so it would be nice if they were the real deal!)
Sound like something you’d like to try? Start calculating on the American Family Insurance website.
FYI: In 2019, the average HO-3 home insurance policy for a home with $300,000-$390,000 of dwelling coverage cost $1,272 per year.
When you get to their site, however, it may feel like Young Alfred is more of a comparison engine, which technically it is. Unlike Progressive, which does underwrite insurance, Young Alfred doesn’t.
Young Alfred’s calculator is your average hybrid calculator/comparison engine. But it does have one pretty neat feature for homeowners who already have an HO-3 policy. If you tell Young Alfred the rate you’re currently paying, Young Alfred’s algorithm will show you how that number compares to the average rate in your area. Nice, right? After that, you can start the quote process.
How Much Homeowners Coverage Do I Need?
When it’s a question of your priorities as a homeowner, coverage should always trump rates. That’s because having less protection than you need is technically worse than paying too much for what you need.
So before you reach for the calculator, you should figure out how much coverage is the right amount for you. If it’s your first time, going line by line through a standard home insurance policy can be daunting. Here’s a three-step checklist that will make it easier.
- How much will it cost to rebuild my house?
We’ve tackled how to price coverage in-depth in our 2022 home insurance costs report. I just want to point out here that the amount of coverage you need for your home (see below) isn’t based on its market value alone; it’s also based on how much it will cost to rebuild it if worse ever goes to worst. That number is relatively easy to calculate.
You take the square footage of your home, including any additional structures like garages, and multiply it by local building costs. That will give you a rough idea of how much coverage you need for step 2.
Homeowner's Tip: Protective devices like deadbolt locks and a reputable home security system won’t change your coverage, but they can lower your premium (by up to 14 percent with a budget Lemonade plan). So if you’re fitting your home for a new insurance policy, you’ll want to make those upgrades before you sign on the dotted line.
- How much coverage do I need for my property?
We all know the basic accidents, or perils, our policies cover, right? But what about our standard protections against those perils? This is a big deal if you’re looking for total coverage for your home.
Imagine it this way. Being an expert in perils is great. You’ll know exactly what you’re covered for in the event of an accident. But if you don’t know what help you’re entitled to from your insurance provider, it’s a little like memorizing the entire criminal code, but drawing a blank when it comes to your Miranda rights.
So, before we start crunching the numbers, let’s get a firm grasp on our “basic rights” as homeowners. I’m talking about the four standard protections our insurers owe us and how much coverage we should set for each.
Estimating Property Coverage
You’ll see property coverage in several guises (home, dwelling, etc.). Your homeowners policy will also cover “other structures.” Typically, coverage for anything you build on your property, like garages and fences, will start at 10 percent of your total dwelling coverage. So, if you have a garage that would put the Bat Cave to shame, you’ll want to up that percentage accordingly.
Likewise, if you feel your base property coverage isn’t enough to cover a rebuild, you’ll want to pad out your limit. Purchasing extended coverage for homes is pretty common and it doesn’t have to break the bank. When we reviewed Lemonade homeowners coverage, for example, we saw that a 25-percent boost in dwelling coverage only cost an extra $3.67 per month.
The bottom line: Assume that you’ll need at least 20 percent more than the value of your home to build it back, and about 10 percent earmarked for additional structures.
FYI: Some providers, like State Farm, give you extra coverage to rebuild your home to code. It’s called building ordinance coverage and it usually starts at 10 percent of your dwelling coverage. For a closer look at how it works with State Farm, check out our State Farm pricing and protections guide.
Estimating Possessions Coverage
Generally, insurers set coverage for our belongings at around 50 percent of our dwelling coverage. That figure doesn’t cover valuables, which are almost always a separate deductible. It also doesn’t protect electronic gadgets from everyday accidents. (Check out our guide to the best home warranties of 2022for a detailed discussion of accident coverage.)
There are plenty of little variations in possessions coverage from provider to provider. For instance, Lemonade, which I mentioned above, starts you off with $1,500 of gadgets coverage (that’s built in). Other companies, like State Farm, bundle “valuables” coverage in with their standard plans.
But the main thing to consider if you want to nail the right amount of protection for your belongings is whether you want actual cash value or replacement cost value coverage. Most insurance policies will start you out with actual cash value (ACV) coverage, but this isn’t ideal in many cases. If you want to buy your lost or damaged stuff back new (and not off Craigslist), replacement cost value (RCV) coverage is the way to go.
Bottom line: Set aside 50 percent of your property coverage for your stuff, and always consider RCV coverage. If you’ve got a lot of tech (or other valuables), look into additional coverage.
Did You Know: Homeowners insurance doesn’t just protect the stuff you have inside your house. If a thief steals your laptop from the backseat of your car, you’re covered, too.
Estimating Liability Coverage
Liability coverage is pretty straightforward. Insurers will allot between $100,000 and $300,000 to cover your legal expenses in case someone hurts themselves on your property (or you damage someone else’s property).
We home insurance experts lean towards the higher amount, despite the slightly higher premium. There’s just no predicting when an accident might happen or how litigious an outraged guest might get.
Closely related, “medical expenses to others” is a separate deductible, but also comes with your standard HO-3 plan. Unless you have a history of maiming house guests, I’d say the standard $1,000 to cover medical bills is just fine. But feel free to boost it to $2,000 or $3,000. Again, it won’t impact your bottom line much.
Bottom line: $300,000 is the safe bet for personal liability coverage with an additional $1,000 for medical expenses.
FYI: The most common personal liability accidents are dog bites, assorted home mishaps, falling trees, drunk guests, and domestic workers that get hurt on your property.2 With $300,000 in liability coverage, you should be ok.
Estimating Loss of Use Coverage
If your home ever becomes a disaster zone (or it’s uninhabitable for any reason covered by your policy), your insurer will cover the difference in your living expenses. “Expenses” are usually food, gas, and lodging.
Loss-of-use coverage can dip as low as 10 percent of your dwelling coverage, but with some insurers you can set it to as high as 40 percent. (Fyi, this isn’t a blank check; you’ll only get reimbursed for the extra bills you rack up, and you’ll have to show receipts.)
Upping your loss-of-use coverage is your call. But if you live in a disaster-prone area where unlivable homes are a daily reality, you might want to give it some serious thought.
Bottom line: Ten percent of our dwelling limit should cover most of us. If you’re shopping for home insurance in Texas or you’re paying a premium in Florida, you might want to insure yourself for more.
Did You Know: The three most expensive states for home insurance are Florida, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, with Oklahoma taking the cake at $2,446 per policy, per year, on average.
- How High Do I Want to Set My Deductible?
Plenty of people approach deductibles like chickenpox, with their reasoning being that we’re all going to have an accident at some point, so it’s better to pay as little as possible when it happens.
However, only 5-6 percent of homeowners end up filing a claim every year.3 For anything other than wind, hail, and water damage (which 2-2.5 percent of insured households file for yearly), your odds just stand at 0.25 percent.
That doesn’t mean accidents don’t happen or that you shouldn’t have airtight HO-3 coverage when they do. Far from it. But you should be aware that when you slash your deductible, there are consequences. First and foremost for budget-minded homeowners, you’re going to be paying a higher monthly premium.
Just dropping your deductible from $2,500 to $1,000, for instance, could mean paying $8-$10 more per month. Multiply that by 12 and you’re bloating your yearly bill by $120, or one month of insurance for about half the country.
Bottom line: Shoot for $1,500 (or higher) with your deductible. You’ll have to pay a little more to unlock your insurance when and if the day comes, but you’ll end up saving substantially on your monthly bill.
Calculating Coverage Type and Values
Here’s a recap of all the coverage we’ve talked about above. The key amount on this list is your dwelling limit. After you figure that out, everything else will fall into place.
|Type of coverage||Value|
|Dwelling||20-50 percent over the value of your home|
|Other structures||10-15 percent of your dwelling coverage|
|Possessions||50 percent of your dwelling coverage with RCV|
|Loss of Use||10 percent of your dwelling coverage, (unless you live in a disaster-prone area)|
Of course, these are just estimates. And in no way is this meant to be home insurance advice. But now that we’ve got a fairly good idea of how much our home is going to cost to rebuild and how much coverage we need to do it comfortably, we’re ready to hit the calculators.
Home insurance calculators aren’t magic. Many times they aren’t even calculators. They’re comparison engines or quote generators disguised as calculators.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them a try. Just do your homework first.
Go in with an idea of how much coverage you need for your home (with rebuilding costs figured in), and expect to spend some time putting together actual quotes with companies you’re considering. It might be more work than you asked for when you Googled “home insurance calculator,” but that’s really the only way to get an accurate premium, anyway.
Homeowner's Tip: To get an idea of how much homeowners have been paying for their policies in your state, check out the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ latest report. State rates are in Table 4.4
Home Insurance Calculator FAQs
If you suspect you’ve been paying too much for your HO-3 policy, or you’re just looking for the average rate in your area, HO-3 calculators are useful tools.
In our book, American Family Insurance’s calculator is the most straightforward. If you’re looking for good calculators that you can also use for comparison shopping, we recommend Progressive and Young Alfred.
Insurance calculators use powerful algorithms, but even if you feed one your exact address, it’s likely only pulling up rates in your area, not a rate for your actual home. If you want an actual rate, you’re going to have to request a quote.
No, and actually, you should have this information handy when you use a calculator or you’re shopping for quotes. Above, we have some tips for calculating your coverage.
No, calculators aren’t quotes. They’re tools homeowners can use to get a ballpark idea of rates in their area.