Dare to Compare Home Insurance Companies

by : Heather Leigh Clark

Whether you're looking for insurance in New York or Florida, Texas or Arizona, you're probably aware that the average cost of gets higher every year. That means it's more important than ever to be a smart shopper! Of course it's nice to have a low premium as well, and you'll find that rates vary widely from company to company. But don't sacrifice adequate coverage for the sake of having a lower premium. You won't really be saving money if you don't have the insurance protection you need. In fact, according to a November, 2003 article in Best's Review (America's insurance industry magazine), about two out of every three homeowners do not have their home fully covered.

Shop Around

Before you begin shopping, decide coverage you need. Once you have an idea of the type and amount of coverage you need, check several sources for the best prices. Try getting quotes from a site such as . An independent insurance agent may be able to get you the very best price because they have gone over all your needs with you and have determined how much coverage you actually need. Some companies sell more than one type of policy. If you're offered a policy with less coverage than you'd like, ask for additional coverage. You may need to buy endorsements to gain additional coverage.

Learn the Lingo

If you're like most people, insurance-speak either puts you to sleep or sounds like Greek. But by learning some basic insurance terminology, you'll be better positioned to make smart choices and know exactly what to ask for - and what you're actually paying for.

Check the Finances

It is vital that you choose a company that will be able to pay a homeowners insurance claim when you need them to...and unfortunately, there are some insurance companies out there who can't. Luckily, there are resources available that let you research the financial strength of the companies you're considering. Ratings from A.M. Best, Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investors Service and Weiss Ratings, Inc., can help you determine an insurance company's financial strength.

Look at the Report Card

Before you make any final decisions, you should also review the company's complaint record, rankings and customer satisfaction reports. General sources of insurance information include the American Council of Life Insurers, the Insurance Information Institute, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and your state insurance department. A good website for this kind of information is . You can check a company's customer satisfaction rating at .

By arming yourself with knowledge and doing some careful comparison shopping, you can find a cost-effective homeowners insurance policy that adequately protects one of your most valuable assets - your home.