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I recently saw and read part an “article” (and that’s using the term generously) with a title of the “Cheapest Home Insurance in Wisconsin” and it became pretty clear to me quickly that the article wasn’t anything more than a paid advertisement designed to masquerade as a legitimate price comparison on nerdwallet. Ok, in fairness, it did state “among large insurers,” however they use that little disclaimer in what appears to be a highly subjective and manipulative method to isolate the comparison to many or all of those home insurance companies that give the website money in some form.
Or as the article states, “our partners who compensate us.” – What a load of garbage. And I will tell you why. The headline suggests it’s a “real” review with journalistic integrity, and it then goes on to suggest that “…this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.” – Ok, I see what you’re trying to do there. You cherry pick which companies and then you give an “honest review.”
Eau Claire people deserve better in an insurance review, and this is my attempt to give my opinion on the cheapest annual home insurance in Wisconsin, and specifically in Eau Claire, Menomonie, and the Chippewa Falls area, commonly referred to as the Chippewa Valley of Wisconsin.
The first thing a homeowner shopping for home and auto insurance needs to know is that you really do need to shop around. You can do this in many ways. You can call of course, and you can search online (as you’re likely doing now if you’re reading this), and you can talk to friends and relatives to see what they’re paying.
I will return to this important point though, with just a few words now. It doesn’t matter to most people what they pay for insurance, and what most homeowners really care about is what happens when there is a claim after a loss. Again, I’ll go into greater detail, but keep that in mind as you read about cost and the premium you pay for your insurance.
For most people, purely in terms of cost (with all else being generally equal), the lowest cost home insurance will come from an independent agent that takes the time and effort to seek out an insurance carrier that wants to write your home insurance.
What do I mean by “wants to write your home insurance?” – There are different demographics that various insurance companies target. You have single people who rent and only want car and renter’s insurance. You have the young married couple buying their first starter home, you have high-net worth single people, and married people. you have people with prior losses and claims and the list goes on and on.
With hundreds of insurance options in Wisconsin, the whole notion of isolating four or five of the largest insurance companies as the best bet starts to fall apart pretty quickly. There are stock insurance companies, these are companies that are owned by shareholders, with shareholder desires to make money, and you have small town mutual companies that may only have a few thousand customers (instead of millions), which allows them to tailor their insurance products to the needs of a few instead of offering a one-size-fits-all approach. There are many many regional home insurance companies that have the size to withstand large claims, with some as stock and some as mutual.
A mutual insurance company is owned by the policy holders generally and in my experience and opinion, offer a combination of high service and competitive pricing/value.
To be clear, I don’t offer State Farm Insurance, American Family, Allstate, or USAA (the home insurance companies highlighted in the article), and the only insurance agents that I am aware of that sell it are “captive” meaning they primarily focus on that one company to place all their clients in. It may not surprise you that when someone calls my office asking for a comparison, my first thought is “I’m going to win this account.” It’s not because I’m arrogant or such a great salesman, it comes down to the fact that because I offer so many choices, that the odds favor my ability to offer equal or better coverage at a better price. It’s a hard position for a captive agent to compete on value. I believe other than name recognition and massive advertising spending, they usually aren’t number two or number three, they’re often pretty far down the list in homeowner overall value.
Am I always the best value from a price perspective, no I am not. However, if you treat people right as a professional insurance agent, and you review someone’s current insurance policy with integrity and honor, when that happens, I simply advise potential clients that I feel from a price perspective, what they have is the best option. The interesting thing is, I’ve found that I still usually “win” the business and gain a new client. Homeowners usually don’t put price above service and having someone who is willing to provide great advice and not try to rush a quote and “move on to the next one” resonates strongly.
In fact, those that fall for what I consider a trap, namely the idea you can spend 15 minutes discussing your insurance requirements and actually be well protected is simply not true for most homeowners who have a desire to make sure they’re well covered. I’m also convinced that the way some insurance companies keep their rates low is by playing “hardball” when it comes to claims. For some people, it means little that they saved $50 (often that’s not even the case, they may have paid more, albeit didn’t seek other options to find out) a year on premium when they lose thousands of dollars because they don’t have the resources, knowledge, time, or money to force the insurance company to pay out all they’re owed. Anyone who thinks most claims are simple and they will receive EVERYTHING they’re entitled to because the insurance company and/or adjuster will give them guidance is mistaken.
Most insurance adjusters will offer to pay what the insurance company has to based on the requests from the client. If the homeowner client doesn’t know to ask, it doesn’t usually get included in the settlement, and most home and auto insurance clients simply don’t know enough to know what to ask for. And for those that buy online and don’t have an agent, that means THEY are acting as their own insurance professional. If someone never worked in insurance and doesn’t have experience with the claim process, would you hire that person to give you advice on what you should claim and how to do so? probably not, however, that’s what many intend to do by default if they have a problem with their home and/or auto.
The one possible exception may be for attorneys. They’re more likely to know what they’re entitled to if they have a claim, albeit simply having an idea of liability and risk transfer doesn’t mean they are well prepared unless they actually work as a litigator with insurance experience. Otherwise, I can’t stress enough that if you’re buying home insurance, you have an agent that has the experience and attitude of protecting their clients (instead of simply making a quick sale) when the time comes.
Getting back to the question at hand, namely what is the cheapest home insurance in Eau Claire. It depends on your situation, which is again why it’s so important to seek out an independent insurance agent. The truth is, if insurance was actually “easy” there would be no need for insurance agents and people would simply buy insurance online. But it’s not easy and each person should get and deserves to have an individualized insurance plan that meets their needs and risk tolerance.
For married couples who own a home and don’t have prior claims or speeding tickets, I will focus on two prominent independent insurance providers in Wisconsin—Erie Insurance and Main Street America—and highlight how they provide lower costs and higher value compared to popular captive agencies like State Farm and American Family.
The Advantages of Erie Insurance
Erie Insurance stands out as one of the top choices for homeowners seeking affordable coverage without compromising on quality. The company’s competitive pricing structure ensures homeowners can protect their properties at reasonable premiums. Erie Insurance is committed to delivering cost-effective solutions and offers discounts and bundling options to further enhance affordability.
In addition to its attractive pricing, Erie Insurance provides a wide range of coverage options tailored to homeowners’ needs. From protecting homes and personal belongings to liability coverage, Erie Insurance offers comprehensive solutions. Homeowners can also benefit from additional options such as identity theft protection and flood insurance, providing added value and peace of mind.
One of the key advantages of Erie Insurance lies in its exceptional claims service. Homeowners can rely on Erie Insurance’s prompt and efficient claims handling, with dedicated professionals guiding them through the process. The company’s commitment to customer satisfaction ensures that homeowners receive fair compensation in a timely manner, minimizing the stress and hassle often associated with claims.
The Advantages of Main Street America
Another notable player in the independent insurance arena is Main Street America. This insurance provider combines competitive pricing with comprehensive coverage, making it an attractive choice for Wisconsin homeowners. Main Street America offers affordable premiums without compromising on the quality of coverage provided.
Main Street America’s policies encompass protection for homes, personal property, and personal liability. Homeowners have the flexibility to choose from various deductible options and additional endorsements, tailoring their coverage to meet their specific needs. This customization feature ensures that homeowners only pay for the coverage they truly require, further reducing costs.
Financial stability and trust are significant factors when choosing an insurance provider. Main Street America boasts a strong financial position and a proven track record of stability, providing homeowners with peace of mind. With Main Street America, homeowners can rest assured that their insurance provider is financially secure and capable of fulfilling claims promptly and efficiently.
Main Street America also values localized expertise and responsiveness. Their agents possess in-depth knowledge of the local market and are well-versed in Wisconsin’s unique challenges. Homeowners can rely on Main Street America’s agents for expert advice and guidance, knowing that they have the support of professionals who truly understand their needs.
The Cost and Value Advantage
Compared to captive insurance agencies like State Farm and American Family, independent insurance agencies such as Erie Insurance and Main Street America have a distinct advantage when it comes to cost and value. While captive agencies may offer recognizable brand names, their pricing structures often come at a premium. Because these two highly rated insurance companies don’t spend nearly as much money on advertising, they’re able to usually offer a much better value in terms of price and coverage.
Progressive is another insurance carrier that offers home and auto. While State Farm at the time of this writing was the “largest” insurance company in America, that’s no longer the case. Progressive has taken over as the number one and from what I can tell, for good reason. Progressive has determined that they want to write “everyone” basically, including those that require SR-22 filings, and people with claims and/or driving tickets. I write a considerable number of Progressive policies, especially commercial auto (Progressive has been the number one commercial auto carrier for a while now).
Often homeowners will have one or more “toys” (boats, ATV, camper, and/or snowmobiles), and it generally makes sense to place the toys in a separate policy and not on the homeowner’s insurance policy. The reason is pretty simple, because insurance companies don’t make much money on homeowner’s insurance (some won’t even write a homeowner’s policy without bundling auto with it), they’re quick to non-renew if there are several claims within a three or five year period. I have gained many clients from “big name” insurance companies because they dropped clients even after 10+ years because of too many claims within three years. Some didn’t have a claim in over 10 years, and when they have two claims, they were dropped.
Foremost is another carrier that I write insurance policies for. This is another carrier that is an option and great fit for many people. Foremost has an appetite for homes that may not get a good rate, or even acceptable for many other home insurance carriers. Foremost writes policies for toys as well and is a great fit for many people.
And the list goes on, with each home insurance company targeting various groups of people enabling independent insurance agencies, such as 1 Reason Insurance, and its agents the ability to tailor your home coverage with the right company at the right price. It’s why I know that if someone is looking for a better alternative to the companies that spend the most on advertising, I’ll likely obtain a new client to serve.
The last important point I touched on earlier. Namely it is SO IMPORTANT for you to have an insurance agent that advises you, and not someone who simply takes your order as if they’re working at a fast food restaurant. If your insurance agent doesn’t actually know you, you’re likely missing out on the most important aspect of who you should obtain home insurance from.
We’re right here in the Eau Claire area and we’ll be happy to have a discussion with you. We can review your current coverage and give advice you can use, regardless of if you make a change or not.