A good homeowners insurance policy should be affordable, reliable and broad enough for your needs. To find out which insurers offer the best coverage for homeowners in North Carolina, we gathered thousands of home insurance quotes and sifted through policy details from dozens of companies.
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Our analysis showed that home insurance rates in the Tarheel state can go as low as $782 for a year of coverage, but it also revealed the importance of other factors such as an insurer's record of consumer complaints and its range of policy options. Here's our selection of the best insurers available in North Carolina.
Best for most people: Travelers Insurance
Travelers stood out as the best home insurance option in North Carolina for the typical homeowner, due to its prices and policy features. Travelers' homeowners insurance offers a variety of ways for consumers to upgrade their policies, such as by adding protection for water backup or replacement cost coverage for their belongings.
Even without upgrades, homeowners insurance with Travelers comes with enough protection for most people at a price that's hard to beat. The company's average price of $782 per year is the lowest in North Carolina. The company's list of discounts allows policyholders to lower their prices further, too.
In terms of customer satisfaction, Travelers' homeowners insurance posts solid ratings in North Carolina. According to 2019 data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Travelers has a complaint index of 0.49. This means that it's responsible for a lower share of insurance-related complaints than normal for the number of policies it writes.
Best for complete coverage: Erie
Erie isn't the cheapest home insurance option in North Carolina, but we believe it delivers a more comprehensive level of protection than any of the other insurers we researched. We found that Erie only costs about 3% less than the average home insurer in North Carolina, but the company's price is justified by its great coverage features and a strong record of customer service.
Erie's home insurance gives you guaranteed replacement cost coverage on the structure of your house. This type of coverage tends to be more expensive but covers the full price of rebuilding your entire home if necessary. Most home insurers operate on actual cash value coverage, which reduces your claim by the amount of "wear and tear" depreciation in your home's value over time.
Customer service at Erie appears to be among the highest rated in North Carolina, with an NAIC complaint index of 0.31. Homeowners policies with Erie cost an annual average of $962 in North Carolina, nearly $200 more than the cheapest provider in the state. Still, we recommend Erie for anyone who prefers paying for excellent coverage.
Best local insurer: North Carolina Farm Bureau
If you're looking for a home insurance company with deep roots in your area, North Carolina Farm Bureau is a good place to start. Although it's the second largest homeowners insurance provider in the state, Farm Bureau maintains a network of agents who are truly local residents. This puts the company in a better position to provide coverage tailored to match your local needs.
Where price is concerned, Farm Bureau homeowners insurance came in at an average annual cost of $796 — that's about 20% cheaper than the statewide average for the quotes we collected. In addition to being more affordable than usual, North Carolina Farm Bureau has an A.M. Best financial strength rating of "A" (excellent). Since its founding in 1953, the company has successfully met millions of dollars in claim payouts for hurricanes from Hugo and Floyd to the present day.
Best for military families: USAA
USAA should be a familiar name to almost anyone with a connection to the armed forces — with good reason. In our evaluation of its home insurance offerings, we found that USAA's stellar word-of-mouth reputation has a real basis in the numbers. Its NAIC complaint index of 0.25 was among the best of North Carolina's top home insurers, and an A.M. Best financial strength rating of A++ indicates that it's extremely unlikely to default on its claim payments.
Besides all these signs of quality service, USAA homeowners insurance comes with protections for damaged uniforms and replacement cost coverage — a useful way to replace your lost property for its full value. In North Carolina, we measured an average premium of $1,107 for USAA's standard HO-3 policies. That came in above the statewide average of $992 across all the home insurance quotes we collected in our rate research.
The one major drawback to USAA is that you can only join if you are associated with the U.S. military, or if you have a current or former USAA member in your family. So long as you meet the eligibility requirements, we recommend USAA as your top option for home insurance and any other financial services you may need, from deposit accounts to loans.
Home insurers with the best and worst customer service in North Carolina
If you find that your home insurance options look very similar in terms of both price and features, customer satisfaction is the next thing to consider. An insurance policy is only as good as the claims it pays out, which makes it important to find an insurer who handles claims fairly and promptly. In North Carolina, we found that insurers like Nationwide and Chubb posted some of the best customer service ratings, while those such as Universal and UPC reported the worst.
We determined this by combing through customer complaint data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the nation's overall standard-setting regulatory organization. Keep in mind that because these figures are national, some of the outliers reflect complaints and conditions that don't apply to North Carolina. For example, companies that do most of their business in claim-heavy states such as Florida tend to receive a higher volume of complaints.
Customer satisfaction ratings for North Carolina's largest home insurers
|Size rank||Company||NAIC complaint index (lower is better)||J.D. Power score (higher is better)|
|2||North Carolina Farm Bureau||0.57||n/a|
|17||Cincinnati Insurance Cos.||0.14||4/5|
The NAIC calculates each insurance company's complaint index by dividing the company's share of total consumer complaints by the percentage of market share it holds. Basically, this means that a complaint index of 1.0 indicates a company that receives the same share of complaints as its share of the U.S. homeowners insurance market.
The cheapest options for homeowners insurance in North Carolina
In the course of researching North Carolina's home insurance industry, we ran a comparison of annual premiums that included almost 16,000 individual quotes based on sample addresses in 856 ZIP codes throughout the state. We found that at an average of $792 per year, Travelers offered the cheapest home insurance rates in North Carolina.
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The biggest home insurance risks in North Carolina: hurricanes, floods and lightning
Hurricane activity is the biggest homeowners insurance concern for any state on the Atlantic seaboard, and North Carolina is no exception. Each year, homes in the Tarheel State suffer millions of dollars in damage from high winds and flooding. However, lightning strikes also cause significant losses to North Carolina homeowners.
To keep your property financially protected in any event, you need to understand the average costs of these risks — as well as the rules that home insurers follow when paying for them.
Hurricanes and flood insurance in North Carolina
In 2018, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calculated that relative to its economic output, North Carolina experienced higher disaster losses than any other state. The fallout from Hurricane Florence and other disasters in 2018 cost North Carolina between 3% to 5% of its annual gross state product (GSP). Because hurricanes and floods can be devastating one year only to vanish the next, the best policy is to have active insurance coverage at all times.
Wind damage from hurricanes and storms is almost always covered as part of your standard homeowners insurance. This includes things like shingles falling off the roof and trees being uprooted. However, you should always confirm this by reading your coverage details. If you live in an area that insurers see as high-risk, they may exclude wind damage from your base policy and require you to purchase it as an additional coverage.
Flood damage, on the other hand, is almost never covered by HO-3 policies (the standard home insurance policy). Floods can be enormously expensive for insurers when they occur, striking thousands of insured properties at the same time. If you're in a high-risk flood zone, you should consider obtaining a separate flood insurance policy through the government-sponsored National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private flood insurer.
Lightning strikes in North Carolina: How the insurance works
Lightning strikes on private property are also responsible for thousands of claims in North Carolina every year. According to the Insurance Information Institute, North Carolina saw the sixth highest number of lightning-related insurance claims in 2018.
On average, insurance claims involving lightning cost North Carolina homeowners just over $11,500 per incident. The most serious incidents involve fires started by a lightning strike, while the most common are usually ground surges that overload electronics and appliances plugged into the home.
Homeowners insurance covers most kinds of damage that lightning can inflict on your property. However, the amount you actually receive from insurance for lightning-related losses will depend on your ability to prove the cause of damage. Obviously, this can be easier for fires or stricken trees than for ground surges.
North Carolina insurance rates: City-by-city breakdown
Our data also allowed us to create a comparison of home insurance costs in North Carolina from city to city. This table lists the average annual premium in each of the state's 50 largest cities as well as how much higher or lower they are compared to the statewide average.
|City||Average cost||% difference from average|
If you're curious how North Carolina's premiums compare against home insurance rate estimates in the rest of the nation, you should start by understanding the state's unique rate-setting process. Where most other states require insurance companies to file proposed rate changes on an individual basis, the North Carolina Rate Bureau (NCRB) fulfills that function in the Tarheel State. The NCRB represents all North Carolina property insurers, and proposes annual rate changes (almost always increases) that must be approved by the government's Department of Insurance.
Our survey of home insurance quotes in North Carolina included estimates from eight of the state's largest insurers. For each company, we collected quotes from every ZIP code in the state. The sample property we used in all quotes was built in 1985 and insured to $183,000 — these numbers match the median age and value of owner-occupied homes in North Carolina.
The specific insurers we covered included:
- North Carolina Farm Bureau
- State Farm
- Universal Property
Our analysis used insurance rate data from Quadrant Information Services. We publicly sourced these rates from insurer filings, which means they should only be used for comparative purposes. Rates you request for your own coverage may be different.