Millions of people flock to Louisiana each year to partake in the state’s global celebrations and experience its rich history. But for homeowners, Louisiana is one of the most expensive states in which to live. The coast is frequented by tropical storms, and Hurricane Katrina changed the LA insurance market forevermore.

And while approximately 60 percent of American homeowners are underinsured, you don’t have to join that statistic. Navigating homeowners insurance policies is a breeze, once you know what to look for. We spent 45 hours researching the best providers and speaking to industry experts so you don’t have to. We found a handful of Louisiana insurance companies with solid financial standings, transparent policies, and a veritable fleet of friendly and knowledgeable insurance agents.

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The Best Homeowners Insurance in Louisiana

Freshome’s Recommendations: State FarmAmicaLiberty MutualAllstateUSAAElectric Insurance
When it comes to finding the best homeowners insurance, there are a lot of things to consider. A policy should protect you across six variables, including dwelling, other structures, personal property, loss of use, liability, and medical payments, but policies do not protect against everything. For example, flood and earthquake insurance do not come standard on homeowners insurance policies. So you have to really do your homework before signing on the dotted line.

Aside from understanding your policy, it’s equally important to research your insurance provider. Not all insurance is created equal, and we spent days researching which providers can be trusted based on financial strength and customer satisfaction. We made sure the providers we listed all had J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction ratings of three stars or more, had an A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating of B+ or more, and had a high financial strength rating from Moody’s and/or Standard & Poor’s.

We based our research on customer claim satisfaction reviews, because although no one wants to have to file a claim, it’s important to know how your provider will respond if you do. It’s also important to know if your provider has enough money to pay out in case of a huge national disaster; you don’t want a company who’s going to give you a hard time about it. That’s why we prioritize financial strength and backing as a must when it comes to homeowners insurance providers. Things happen, but you shouldn’t have to worry if they do.

The Quotes

We based our quote on the average type of home in Louisiana – a single-family home worth about $250,000–$280,000. We selected the up-and-coming East Baton Rouge Parish neighborhood, with good schools and low crime rates. The sample home we used was relatively new — a typical two-story, single-family home with a detached two-car garage, built in 2005.

We tried to get a quote for an HO3 policy, because that type of policy usually offers the most protection for your home, at a fair price. HO3 policies are a combination of open and named perils policies. The dwelling coverage policy is open perils, while the contents policy is named perils. That means any damage incurred to your structural property that isn’t specifically named on the exclusion list will be covered against damage. Any belongings you want covered can be added to the list of named perils for your contents.

Every provider is different, and the only way to know what a new policy would cost you is to get your own quote. Premiums are based on minute nuances, so shop around to find the best homeowners insurance policy for you.

Our Quotes
Amica $1,157 Per Year
Liberty Mutual $1,955 Per Year
State Farm $2,288 Per Year

It’s Not All About the Premiums

When viewing the chart above, you might think Amica is the obvious choice, based on the premium. But there is more than meets the eye when it comes to selecting the best policy.

According to Jeffrey W. Tate (CIC, CISR & CPIA) at The Juban Insurance Group LLC in Baton Rouge, “The most important thing a homeowner can do is understand their policy and be mindful of deductibles. Look at the premium, but beyond the premium, it’s important to understand and be completely comfortable with what you’re buying.”

This is especially true in Louisiana. If your hurricane policy has a flat-rate deductible, you might pay $1,000 when filing a claim. If your insurance policy has a deductible based on a percentage point, you might pay 2 percent of $100,000 worth of damage. So be careful, know what you’re buying, and be sure you can afford your deductible in the worst-case scenario.

Alyssa Barre’ Bourgeois (AINS & AIS) of Eustis Insurance & Benefits in Metairie had similar advice. “Homeowners insurance shopping can be a tedious and frustrating process in New Orleans because of our geographic location,” Bourgeois said. “It is important that property owners take the time to discuss each quote in detail with their agent. There are so many different factors that contribute to the overall premium, and it is vital that homeowners understand their deductibles, coverage limitations, and optional endorsements.”

Bourgeois also said Louisiana providers are a unique bunch, as there is a mix of admitted and non-admitted providers. If you run into this, check out the providers’ financial strength. Any company with strong financial backing and a solid A/B rating from A.M. Best is a safe bet when selecting insurance (although researching customer satisfaction doesn’t hurt either). But again, the same advice rings true – know your policy.

When searching for your own quote, shop around, and know what’s important to you. Personally, we want to know our provider is going to go to bat for us. When we were searching for quotes for this piece, the agent at Liberty Mutual was the most helpful by far. He took the time to make sure we understood the policy, saved us an additional $156 per year based on alumna status, and even offered to stay in touch if we had additional questions. We couldn’t say the same for the other two providers.

Exceptional customer service is really important to us, even if we have to pay a little more to get it. You might not feel the same way, and that’s OK. Just know what’s important to you when you start shopping, and make sure you look beyond the premium.

What You Should Know Before Getting a Quote

Buying homeowners insurance is one of the most important purchases you’ll make because it is the policy that will protect your largest asset. But there is a lot to know. For example, most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover damage caused by floods or earthquakes, and some don’t always protect against natural disasters. If you’re in New Orleans, water damage poses a great risk to your home. So it’s important to research separate protection against water damage if it’s important to you.

Another thing to remember when shopping for the best homeowners insurance? Safety features save you money. If your home has water sprinklers, fire alarms, a home security system, and/or fire-resistant building materials, not only will this protect your home in case of an emergency, but also it will lower your premiums, too.

Additionally, when it comes to national emergencies, we’ve found larger, national companies usually invest resources in emergency response in a way local providers cannot. If you’re on the coast, your home could be affected by a named tropical storm or hurricane. No matter where you live, your home could be affected by an attack or natural disaster. If your provider invests in emergency responses, you have additional peace of mind that help will come to assist you and your family during a time of need.

Homeowners insurance is designed to protect your largest financial asset if disaster strikes. But that doesn’t mean just having a policy guarantees protection against all risks. Research homeowners insurance, policy types, and endorsements, and work with an agent or insurance provider that will educate you and help you feel comfortable with your purchase.

Determining How Much Coverage You Need

I strongly suggest you look into the specific types of coverage your insurance offers, and compare that to the price of replacing the items on your own without a claim. For example, imagine if your insurance policy does not cover water back-up damages, and to do so would cost you an additional $600 per year in premiums. A water pump and proper basement sealing treatment would cost you a one-time $1000 fee; thus, doing the latter might make more sense for you financially. But you won’t know until you look up what your plan covers specifically.

Most plans cover against fire, hail, wind, and lightning damage, but do not protect against earthquakes and floods. Approximately 20 percent of all uncovered claims are filed for flood damage, so even if it is a separate policy, it might not be a bad idea. The same holds true for hurricane protection. Again, think about your policy in a worst-case scenario to make sure you and your family have the coverage you need.

Shopping for homeowners insurance doesn’t have to be like feeling your way through the dark. If you educate yourself on different types of policies, like an HO3 policy, and know common risks in your area (Allstate has a great tool for this), you’ll be able to make the best decision to protect your asset because you have the information to do so.

Why Are Louisiana’s Rates So High?

According to a recent NAIC Homeowners Study, the national rate for homeowners insurance was $952 per year on average in 2013. Rates in Louisiana were 71 percent above that, at $1,722 per year.

Homeowners insurance rates in Louisiana are higher than other states because of the risk of natural disaster. Lesser tropical storms and hurricanes hit the coast various times throughout the year, and everyone remembers the catastrophe brought on by Hurricane Katrina.

But don’t feel too bad. Homeowners insurance rates all along the southeast coast are higher than average. Texans pay 61 percent above the national average, at $1,622 per year, and Floridians pay 98 percent above the national average, at $1,991 per year.

Insurance companies view tropical storms as a huge risk, so it’s only natural premiums would increase as a result. Choosing a home in a good school district with a low crime rate, however, will have the opposite effect on your premium, as will investing in home safety features. If you cannot avoid living in an area with a high risk of water or wind damage, do what you can to decrease your premium by purchasing your home in an area with a low crime rate, adding a home security system, or by bundling services (for which most providers issue a discount).

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What are common coverage gaps?

Most homeowners insurance policies do not offer standard coverage against damages caused by earthquakes and floods, or other natural disasters. Common coverage includes protection against wind, hail, fire, and lightning damage, but sometimes even those are not covered. Ask about your policy specifically, and add on additional coverage as needed. Allstate has a great assessment tool to determine common claims and risks in your area. Check it out for yourself.

Also, if you have priceless belongings like fine art or heirlooms, you might want to insure those as well. Check what’s included with your policy. If you get an HO3 policy, you can add protection for personal valuables as needed.

What about hurricane coverage?

According to Bourgeois, most homeowners insurance policies in Louisiana either deny wind damage claims or require deductibles specific to wind, hail, named storms, or hurricanes. As Tate suggested, you want to be careful when selecting a policy with a deductible; you want to be sure you can afford it if you have to file a claim. Crunch the numbers to determine if a flat-rate or percentage-based deductible will work best for you.

What about flood insurance?

Flood insurance can usually be added onto your homeowners insurance policy, but it does not come standard. Be sure to mention it when gathering your quotes if it’s something you’re interested in. You can only obtain it through an authorized agent, so speak with your insurance agent about flood coverage when you’re doing your quote gathering. If you’re in New Orleans or near the Mississippi River, it’s probably not a bad idea.

If you’d like to learn more about flood damage, coverage, and more, check out FloodSmart.Gov.

What can I afford?

Homeowners insurance is typically figured into your aggregated monthly housing payments. Across the board, experts usually recommend you spend no more than 28 percent of your gross income on housing. This 28 percent includes property tax, mortgage payment, interest, and your homeowners insurance payment. If you’re in Louisiana, you want to be more careful when calculating this against your annual income, as insurance is almost twice as expensive as the U.S. average. To give you an idea, my quotes for a house worth $250,000–$280,000 were about $100-$200 per month.

If you’re looking at purchasing your first home, here are 15 things to know before making the jump.

Which policy is best for me?

An HO3 policy is the most popular across the board because it has an open perils policy for your home structure, and a named perils policy for your personal property. You can choose to insure priceless art or your Spanish leather furniture if you think it’s valuable and worth insuring, but you won’t have to pay higher premiums to protect your IKEA furniture like you would with an all-open, HO5 policy. HO3 is the best fit for the average homeowner, so your asset is protected, and your furnishings can be added to the list if need be.

Take Action

Getting the best homeowners insurance in Louisiana requires a fair amount of research on the front-end. If you’re in the hurricane or tropical storm zone, you will pay more than your northern neighbors on a policy, but you’ll have the added benefit of living right off the coast and having your fill of fresh crawdads daily.

Overall, I encourage you to research homeowners insurance and to find a reputable insurance agent who can walk you through different policies. Call around for quotes. And don’t sign until you fully understand your policy and are comfortable with the stipulations.

Congratulations on owning a home! If you are like most Americans, it is the biggest asset you’ll ever own. So with these simple steps, you can protect it for life.

Freshome’s Recommendations: State FarmAmicaLiberty MutualAllstateUSAAElectric Insurance

Compare Homeowners Insurance Rates

To quickly find and compare rates in your area, enter your ZIP code below.

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