Having experienced recent disasters such as Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Maryland residents are no strangers to severe weather. The state has nearly 3,200 miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay, and their respective tributaries. California, with more than ten times the land mass, has only about 200 miles more.
And Maryland homeowners are partial to waterfront views! Despite the number of dwellings in coastal areas, however (nearly 300,000 Maryland properties carry flood insurance), the state’s average annual homeowner’s insurance premium in 2017 remained below the national average. While that’s good news for Maryland homeowners, many can realize further savings by comparison shopping for the right amount of coverage at the right price.
The Best Homeowners Insurance in Maryland
Determining whether different policies offer comparable coverage requires careful comparison. Homeowners should also consider each prospective insurer’s reputation for claims handling and customer service. We’ve assembled some facts, figures and company profiles to help make this task a little easier.
Regardless of whether you are about to buy your first house or are a long-time homeowner, however, the best time to shop for insurance is well in advance of your closing or policy expiration date. For more information about homeowners insurance, check out Benzinga’s top-rated Best Homeowners Insurance Companies.
Average Annual Premium in Maryland
According to the personal finance research firm, the average annual premium for a Maryland homeowners’ insurance policy in 2017 is $942, below the national average.
Finding the Best Premium for Your Home
A number of factors can affect the premium for any given property. When you plan to purchase a home in Maryland, take into consideration factors such as:
Location. Is the property in a designated flood hazard area or another area prone to flooding? Does its location make it especially susceptible to other hazards? The neighborhood’s property crime statistics, population density and overall claims history can all impact your premium.
Construction. The value of a home is ordinarily based on the cost to replace it. While the use of more durable construction techniques and materials may result in a lower risk profile, they may also be costly to replace. Age of the home is typically also a factor.
Personal property. In general, you will want to have coverage for personal property in an amount equal to about half of the insured value of the home. An additional premium will be charged if coverage is needed for items such as collectible coins or jewelry.
Special hazards. These can include the presence of firearms in the home or owning an aggressive breed of dog. In these cases, acquiring additional liability coverage may be prudent, but this will naturally affect your cost. Carrying on a trade or business in the home may also raise your premium, even if is not especially hazardous.
Deductibles. As with health insurance, a homeowners insurance deductible is simply the amount of any loss you must first pay out of pocket before the insurance becomes available. You can lower your premium if you are willing to assume more of the risk by agreeing to a higher deductible.
Inclement Weather in Maryland
The National Weather Service maintains an archive of significant storms and adverse weather events. According to NWS records, between 2011 and 2016, eastern Maryland, which is more susceptible to severe weather, experienced more than 30 such events, ranging from tornadoes and Hurricane Irene in 2011 to the blizzard of 2016.
What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
There are five components of a basic insurance policy:
Dwelling coverage This covers the home itself; it could also include an attached garage. You set the limit for coverage based on how much it would cost to rebuild your home. You also set your deductible limit. This will go hand-in-hand with your premium amount. The lower your deductible, the higher your premium will be, just as a higher deductible will lower your premium.
Other structures. This will cover structures on your property such as a detached garage, shed, gazebo, and fencing. Coverage is typically ten percent of the dwelling coverage limit.
Personal property. This covers your belongings. Coverage is usually around 50 percent of what the dwelling coverage limit is. There are, however, limits on certain items like jewelry, collectibles, and forms of currency. An add-on can protect you further for the high dollar items you own.
Additional living expenses for loss of use. This is the portion that would cover expenses you incur should your home become damaged or destroyed by a covered event, and you need to relocate temporarily. It is also subject to limits, typically 20 percent of the dwelling coverage limit.
Liability. This coverage is designed to cover you if someone injures themselves on your property. It will cover their damages and medical expenses. It will also cover you should you need to be defended a lawsuit filed against you.
Keep in mind that the limits on your homeowners insurance policy will vary depending upon your home’s value, the contents inside the home, and the deductibles you personally set in your policy.
What Homeowners Insurance Will Not Cover
What is not covered will vary from company to company. Some companies offer added coverage as part of a basic policy, while most offer additional coverage as an add-on for an increased cost. These are the common events not covered by a basic home policy.
Flooding event. Any type of flood water is not covered under a basic home policy. Flood insurance can be purchased to help cover any losses from a flooding event up to the policy’s stated limits.
Ground shifting. Earthquakes and landslides are not covered under a basic home policy. Earthquake insurance can be purchased to help cover any losses from a ground-shifting event up to the policy’s stated limits.
Water backup. Sewage lines from the house to the main line are not covered under a basic home policy. If you should have a backup into your home, you would not be covered. Water backup and sump overflow can be purchased to help cover any losses from a water backup, even up to the policy’s stated limits.
High-dollar possessions. A basic home policy has limits on high-dollar possessions. Scheduled personal property can be purchased to help cover any losses from loss or theft of your high-dollar possessions such as jewelry, collectibles, and currency.
Take note that just because you do not live in a flood plain or in an earthquake-prone area that these events cannot happen. For instance, suppose you had no earthquake insurance and an earthquake occurred in Delaware, your neighboring state. Unfortunately, that small earthquake caused damage to your property.
Your homeowners policy would not pay to have your home repaired. Nor would it cover property damage from a flooding situation brought on by a hurricane or tropical storm.
Most Affordable Counties
Perhaps not surprisingly, three of the five counties in which average annual homeowners insurance premiums are more affordable are in western Maryland. These counties are miles from the ocean and bay and therefore less likely to be affected by coastal storms:
- Allegany County
- Garrett County
- Somerset County
- Washington County
- Wicomico County
Most Expensive Counties
While there are individuals in counties that pay the least, there are also those that pay the most. The following five counties pay the most for the homeowners insurance in Maryland:
- Worcester County
- Montgomery County
- Queen Anne’s County
- Calvert County
- Talbot County
Top Picks for Maryland
Maryland residents can choose from a large number of highly rated homeowners insurance carriers. While the following list is by no means an exhaustive, here are a few companies that have consistently provided good customer service and competitive rates.
Lemonade provides a top-rated homeowners insurance experience that’s easy and hassle free. Award-winning customer service and digital, super-fast everything from just $25 a month.
Leveraging insurtech to rewrite the traditional insurance model, Lemonade offers home insurance for the tech-savvy consumer.
Using the Lemonade app you can get insurance in 90 seconds. It takes about 3 minutes to get paid for a claim. Boasting simplicity and transparency, Lemonade takes a flat fee, pays claims quickly and donates what’s leftover to causes close to your heart. It’s like receiving and giving all in one.
Coverage includes things like theft (whether inside or outside your home), perils (fire, water damage, storm damage) and extra living expenses.
2. Erie Insurance
Erie gets high marks for its customer service, financial strength, and competitive pricing.
Erie can also provide coverage for a variety of losses, from water backup and sump pump overflow to earthquakes and identity theft.
Discounts for bundling home and auto policies are available, as are premium reductions for installing a burglar alarm or sprinklers.
3. State Farm
State Farm offers a wide range of coverage options, along with exclusive resources and tools for customers.
The company also has one of the world’s largest and most accessible claims networks.
Amica was founded in Rhode Island 1907 and remains the oldest mutual automobile insurer in America.
It has received a number of J.D. Power & Associates customer service quality awards and offers dependable service and flexible coverage options at competitive rates.
Allstates“Good Hands” company is among the nation’s largest insurers.
It offers discounts for homeowners who are over age 55 or retired and those with good claims histories, as well as those who use its Easy Pay billing option.
6. Liberty Mutual
Liberty Mutual offers an impressive choice of coverage options and discounts.
Your Liberty Mutual homeowners policy will cover damage from fire or theft, as well as third-party injury claims. Plus, you can get a quote online in minutes.
Finding the best premium for your Maryland home really means finding the best coverage for your home and your family — without costly coverage gaps — combined with a price that provides value you can afford.
Want to learn more about finding affordable insurance? Check out Benzinga’s guides to cheap car insurance in Baltimore, the best affordable health insurance companies and the best cheap life insurance companies.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Q: If my home is destroyed due to fire or weather, how long will it take for my insurance claim to be settled and my home to be repaired?
From start to finish, the process could take anywhere from 12 to 24 months. The variables that play the largest role are the size of the loss and the insurance company you choose. Check her for the cheapest homeowners insurance quote.
2) Q: What can I do to ensure that my home is properly covered?
The most important thing you can do is have a conversation with your agent or carrier to be sure you have the right amount of coverage. Avoid putting just the minimum coverage on your home: Remember, if your home is destroyed, you need to have enough coverage to rebuild the entire home, so you’ll want to insure it for more than just the market value. Also, notify your insurer of renovations or changes that you make to your home — and don’t forget to check to be sure you have enough liability coverage. Get the best quote today from our top providers.
3) Q: What are the most common types of home insurance claims?
Wind and hail claims top the list with nearly 40% of all home insurance claims due to these two acts of nature. Fire and lightning are the second most common, but claims due to fire tend to much bigger than claims dues to other types of risk. The possibility of a total loss is why it’s so important to insure your home for the full cost of rebuilding. Get a custom quote today.
About Maurice Draine
Maurice Draine is a former insurance agent, broker, underwriter tech, and agent sales support rep with over 15 years of professional writing experience. Maurice helps insurance, financial, and various online and ad agencies, create the words that drive customers to their websites and keeps them there.