If you haven’t opened up your home insurance policy lately, you’re not alone. A good 70 percent of us homeowners never have. Which is kind of weird. I mean, how many of us with home security systems don’t know how many security cameras we have around our home? (Please, no one raise their hand!) Home insurance is basically home security. We need to be on top of both.
I will give you this. Home insurance fine print has traditionally been pretty tedious and difficult to unpack. It doesn’t make it any better that a handful of home insurance websites — I won’t name names — still look like AOL and Amazon had a baby.
But guess what? Many home insurers have ditched the jargon for straight talk. Some of them even let us go policy shopping from the comfort of our kitchen tables using snazzy apps built right into their websites — which is what we’re here to talk about. Our online quote guide for homeowners is going to:
- Show you how to use an online quote generator to estimate your home insurance premium
- Point you to some of our favorite apps for collecting online quotes
- Answer any questions you have about shopping for homeowners insurance online
Sound good? Follow me.
Homeowner's Tip: An online quote generator, or widget, is a website app that guesses how much your insurance premium is likely to cost. The cool thing about quote generators is that you can see your entire policy laid out before you on your screen and tweak whatever you want. This interactive approach makes it less like required reading and more like a game.
What’s a Homeowners Quote
We might as well start with what a homeowners insurance quote is not. It’s not a contract or a legally binding document, so don’t take a screenshot of your offer and expect it to hold up in court. (In fact, let’s hope you never end up in court.)
A home insurance quote is more like an estimate of what an insurer thinks your premium will cost based on what they know about you. And that’s the rub.
In order to give you an actual premium, an insurance company has to make sure that the information you’ve given them online is accurate. They have to check your credit score (it’s a soft pull; don’t worry) and verify that the two-year-old cool roof you reported isn’t actually 23 years old and made of tin.
That said, if you’re upfront and have the right information on hand, the quote you get should be pretty close to the rate you end up paying — especially since the AI insurance companies are using these days is pretty sophisticated.
Now that we know what a home insurance quote is, let’s look at how to get one. For our purposes today, we’ll use Lemonade’s quote builder.
Did You Know: Purchasing a home insurance policy online doesn’t mean you won’t have access to flesh-and-blood agents. Even digital-first companies without storefronts have human support via chat, email, and telephone.
Getting an Online Quote: A Six-Point Checklist
The best home insurance quote engines are designed to be as quick, painless, and enjoyable as possible. This is mainly because homeowners are a tough crowd to please and get bored easily. (Remember, seven out of 10 Americans have never even looked at their policies!) So fun is good.
But also remember that if you want an accurate quote that you can shop with — and ultimately secure the best insurance rate for your money— you should go in prepared. For HO-3 quote hunters, that means having the following information handy.
- Your address
I’m not being cute here. Without a physical address, you can’t get a quote. That’s because insurance companies use addresses to pull up public records so they can estimate what it will cost to insure your home. Those records show them things like how old your house is, how many stories it has, how big it is, and what kind of a roof and basement it has. All of those factors influence your insurance rate. So, if you want a quote, have your street address handy.
- Your claims history
Most top home insurers give special discounts to customers who don’t file claims regularly. I know, it’s not very intuitive. Service providers don’t usually penalize us for using their services. But this is home insurance, and the less of a proven liability you are, the more valuable you are as a customer. Have you made any claims in the past five years? Tally them up. (Insurers will find out anyway, but this way you won’t be caught off guard when your actual premium is a few bucks higher than your estimate.)
- A clear idea of how much coverage you need
This is by far the most important entry on this list. Calculating the right amount of home insurance coverage is key not just to getting an accurate quote, but to protecting your household. We won’t go into too much detail here, but you’ll want to nail down a figure for your dwelling coverage, your deductible, and some percentages for your other standard homeowners protections (possessions, liability, loss of use, etc.).
The logic here is that some coverage — like the amount you need to rebuild your house or buy back your things in the event of major damage — is non-negotiable. It’s got to be on point. Other amounts, like coverage for valuables, electronics, and appliances, are tweakable. If there’s one homework assignment you should do before you start gathering quotes, this is it.
- The condition of your house
Insurers can refuse to cover homes just based on their condition. But they can also give you nice discounts. Did you replace your roof recently? You’ll get a lower quote. What about your electrical wiring? Same there. Insurance companies will ask you all of this when you’re quote hunting, including the exact years of any big repairs. The more info you give them, the more accurate your quote will be.
- Your protective devices
We’re gung-ho about the latest home security systems around here. But we’re not alone. Insurance companies love it when your home is safe. (You’re less of a liability.) They really like leak sensors, wired fire and smoke alarms, burglar alarms, sprinkler systems, and deadbolts. If your alarms are connected directly to the fire and police stations, even better.
When you have these home safety systems in place, you’re not just saving pennies. Lemonade actually offered us 14 percent off our test quote. Read the whole savings story in our in-depth report on Lemonade homeowners insurance.
Bottom line? Home security can lower your HO-3 quote substantially, so if it’s time for a new policy, consider making any long-overdue security overhauls first.
- Personal details (if you want to purchase)
Are you wary of handing over your SSN to anyone that asks for it? We are too. And that’s good digital hygiene. But when you’re purchasing services online, you’ll need to “trust the system.” Insurance providers need these personal details to confirm your identity and assess your credit risk, which influences your rates.
That said, if you’re totally freaked out by the thought of getting that personal with a computer algorithm, you can have the conversation IRL. State Farm, for instance, has 19,000 agents nationwide in brick-and-mortar offices. Nationwide has over 11,000.
Otherwise, if you’re game, once you establish your bona fides and click “next,” you’ll see something like this.
Look good? I don’t want to get too geeky here, but this is actually when the real fun begins. You’ve done the hard part. You’ve rounded up all those details about your home and taken the time to calculate your coverage. Now you get to tweak your policy and make it yours.
You get to set your portable electronics coverage, for instance. (Not all insurers offer this in their standard homeowners insurance packages. Sometimes it’s extra or not available at all.)
Did You Know: Travelers Insurance uses a combination of AI and aerial imagery to analyze roof shapes so they can give customers better quotes in high-risk states like Texas.2 Find out more about our experience with Travelers in our complete Travelers homeowners insurance review.
You also get to plug any holes in your arsenal, like adding water backup coverage and equipment breakdown coverage (EBC). If you’re considering insurance for your appliances and want to do it the right way, we’ve got a full discussion of EBC in our best home warranty guide.
FYI: Your big-ticket appliances are all covered in the event of an accident like a fire or storm. But they aren’t covered from mechanical failure, everyday accidents, or normal wear and tear. That’s where a home warranty or EBC would have your back.
There are a few more things you’ll want to look into before purchasing your policy, but that’s the gist of it.
One more thing I should point out: This is what it looks like to build a quote with Lemonade. And, objectively speaking, this is as good as it gets with online quote builders. Lemonade’s app is simple, fast, and satisfying.
But there are a few other apps we really like too.
Homeowner's Tip: Protective devices aren’t the only way to save substantially on your homeowners insurance premium. Bundling your auto insurance can also drive your rates down. When we put State Farm’s homeowners policies to the test, we found we could save almost 40 percent by bundling.
Home Insurance Online Quote Builders
Nationwide is actually one of my favorite home insurance providers when it comes to getting quotes online. Their quote builder isn’t as gorgeous or gamified as Lemonade’s, but it’s one of the most customizable out there, so you can get a really personal quote. It doesn’t hurt that with Nationwide you can also scoop up a bunch of premium endorsements (or extra coverage) for standard prices. Check them out yourself in our Nationwide home insurance pricing and protections guide.
Progressive is half quote builder, half comparison engine, meaning that you give Progressive all your details — just like I did with Lemonade — and then Progressive combs a database of over 13 top underwriters for the best match. The nice thing about Progressive’s approach is the large pool of providers bidding for your service. You’re bound to find a nice rate. The downside is that you might not be dealing with Progressive if you do need to settle a claim. Good or bad? Here’s our review of Progressive’s home insurance policies.
State Farm’s quote widget is a little too 1999 for my taste. But the thing is, it works. You can put together an ironclad HO-3 policy on the State Farm website. When you bundle your auto insurance and see the savings, you’ll probably forget all about their plain-looking quote builder. The only thing is, if you do bundle, forget about purchasing your quote online. You’ll need to do that in person. Have a gander at our complete guide to State Farm home insurance plans for the full report.
Did You Know: Progressive was the first company to offer comparison shopping for auto insurance. That was in 1993, and your “comparison engine” was an operator with a PC.
Can a Home Insurance Calculator Help You Get a Quote?
A calculator can help you with your quote if you’re trying to get a rough idea of homeowners insurance rates in your area. A home insurance calculator will ask for your address and then spit out a ballpark figure. You can put this number in your back pocket for when you start shopping. But the fact is, pure calculators are few and far between.3
In our research into the best free home insurance calculators, we found that the most popular type of “calculator” is actually a comparison engine, which, as you can tell from the name, isn’t quite the same thing. A comparison engine, like Progressive’s, will lead you through the whole process of building a quote and then pull up a list of different companies that might be a good fit.
Whichever route you take, just make sure you know how much coverage you need for your home. Otherwise, no quote in the world can help you.
FYI: Not sure how to calculate your property coverage? Our fully updated home insurance buyers guide will show you how to do that and plenty more.
If home insurance policies aren’t your favorite bedside reading, we hear you. But when you’re shopping for a quote, it pays off to pay attention.
Fortunately, paying attention has gotten easier these days with online quote builders that cut through the jargon and gamify the laborious process of finding the needle in the haystack of homeowners premiums.
Lemonade, Nationwide, Progressive, and State Farm are at the top of the chart for online quotes today, but we discover new home insurance tools all the time, so check back from time to time. We’ll probably have something new to show you.
Did You Know: There are nooks and crannies of our home safety we’d rather entrust to professionals. Take your home Wi-Fi network (a pretty scary place under the hood if you’ve got no protection). We love virtual private networks for this. Here are our top 10 VPN picks of the year.
Online Homeowners Quotes FAQs
Yes, you can, as long as you’re willing to supply your Social Security number.
If you have the right information on hand, you should be done in about 10 minutes.
Not all insurance companies will ask for personal information, but if you want to purchase your policy, you will need to give them your Social Security number and phone number.
You’ll need to have an address handy. Plus, you’ll need to know if you’ve made any claims in the past five years, the condition of your home, the protective devices you’ve installed, and how much property coverage you need.
Yes. All insurance providers have agents, but not all of them have offices. Online companies like Lemonade handle customer support via chat, email, and telephone.