Best homeowners insurance for older homes

Solid customer care can be useful when determining your best options

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Whether your older home has been in your family for generations or you bought it due to its charm, insuring older homes can be challenging. Premiums are often higher, and in some cases, insurers may avoid them altogether. We’ve selected our top picks for insuring older homes to help you find a policy that works for you.


Key insights

Insuring older homes is often more expensive due to outdated plumbing, wiring and building materials as well as old roofs. Having old fixtures can increase premiums.

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If your home is not insurable, you may need to make updates before buying a policy.

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In some cases, you may need an insurance policy specifically designed for older homes.

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Our top 5 picks for best home insurance for older homes

We’ve selected our top five insurers for older homes, and you’ve likely heard of all of them. However, these insurers are among the best choices for older homes. Keep in mind that USAA only works with active-duty military, their family members and veterans.

Available discounts
Multipolicy, age of home, renovated home, security devices, autopay, full pay, paperless, loyalty, generational discount
Availability
19 states

American Family Insurance is a reputable home insurance provider that has been in business for over 90 years. Its standard policies include dwelling coverage, detached structures, personal property and loss of use. Loss of use coverage helps pay for expenses such as hotel stays and food should your home become unlivable.

You can buy additional coverages like home renovation, service lines and hidden water damage. These are especially useful for older homes, which can be more likely to need renovations or repairs.

The insurer offers many discounts, like multipolicy discounts, security device discounts and even discounts for families with multiple generations of customers. If your older home has had renovations in the past 15 years, that may also qualify you for a discount.

American Family is known for good customer service, with local agents available to provide personalized guidance. If you like the service you receive and stay with American Family for a year or longer, that could be an additional discount.

Our reviewers like that American Family is quick and efficient when filing claims. They like the service they receive and say the rates are reasonable. In addition, they say agents are knowledgeable about the company’s products and are very helpful in walking them through any policy changes.

One reviewer, Mary from Washington, says the company provides great service and rates. “Their personnel are very knowledgeable about all their services and are always there to help with any problems you might have. It's a company I would recommend to anyone,” Mary said. She added that the company is sincere and cares about its customers.

Available discounts
Multipolicy, protective device, connected home, loyalty, claim-free
Availability
Nationwide

If you have access to it, USAA is a great choice for homeowners insurance, thanks to its extensive coverage for dwellings, personal property and liability. USAA home insurance also covers your belongings and some building materials at their current value with no depreciation.

So, if your older home contains valuable antiques, USAA will pay for the cost of repairing or replacing them with similar items. You can add additional coverages, including a 25% increase in coverage. For example, if a covered loss is more than your limit due to an increase in building costs, this coverage may kick in. You can also add coverages for water backup damage, earthquakes and personal injury.

USAA offers several discounts, including up to a 10% discount for auto/home insurance bundling, a discount for installing smart devices, up to a 5% discount for protective devices like a home security system and a discount of up to 15% for not having any claims for five years. USAA’s customer service is generally excellent, according to our reviewers, with good marks for claims handling.

Our reviewers like that USAA is quick and efficient in handling claims. They say working with the company is easy and customer service is excellent. In addition, they say adjusters are very patient when working with them during the claims process.

“USAA has been first rate,” said Fred from Maryland. Fred says his water heater blew up and made a mess of his basement. “Once we called USAA, they got right on the case. They had (the) clean started within 24 hours; assessed the damages and provided a first rate recovery company.”

Available discounts
Multipolicy, claims-free, newly purchased home, new roof, insured to value, autopay, online purchase
Availability
Nationwide

Liberty Mutual offers coverage for personal property, liability and other risks. Available coverages include hurricanes, water backup and inflation protection. Many discounts are available, including a discount of up to 10% for online purchase, claims-free discounts and new roof discounts.

The discounts mentioned are just a few of the discounts Liberty Mutual offers. This insurer offers more discounts than most, giving you more opportunities to save on your homeowners insurance.

Our reviewers say Liberty Mutual has great customer service and that the company went to great lengths to help them find the best coverage. They say the company is always available to help with any issues. In addition, they say the claims process is quick and efficient.

Jane from Texas uses Liberty Mutual for home and auto insurance and hasn’t had any issues in over 16 years. “They always provide excellent response no matter what my need is and they have always handled my claims in a professional way,” Jane said.

Available discounts
Auto insurance bundling, early quotes, new purchase, protective device
Availability
48 states

Progressive has a home quote explorer that lets you easily compare quotes from multiple providers.  The company offers several home insurance coverages, including dwelling, loss of use, liability and personal property. The insurer makes it easy to get a quote, asking a few basic questions about your home and who lives with you.

Progressive offers a few discounts on home insurance, including bundling with auto insurance, a discount for getting a quote in advance, a new purchase discount and discounts for protective devices. You can get a quote online or by calling for advice.

Our reviewers like Progressive’s prompt response to calls, giving them peace of mind. They say agents are helpful and provide multiple quotes over the phone, including competitor rates that are lower than Progressive’s. In addition, they say the company is quick and efficient when filing claims.

Brenda from Alabama appreciates the company’s service. “My family has used Progressive Homeowners Insurance for years because they have always taking care of my family and kids and I will always respect them for the great service that they provide,” Brenda said.

Available discounts
Multipolicy, multiline, paperless, new home, protective devices, claims-free
Availability
41 states

Farmers works with local agents who can discuss coverage options and find available discounts. Standard coverage includes dwelling, personal property, liability and additional living expenses. You can add several optional coverages, such as extended replacement cost, sewer and water drain damage and flood insurance.

Farmers offers a wide range of discounts to help you save. These include bundling, paperless billing, approved roofing materials, new homes and protective devices. There is also a discount for members and retirees of certain businesses, professional groups and professional organizations.

Our reviewers praise Farmers for its promptness and thoroughness in processing claims. They say the company has excellent coverage options and rates. Plus, they say claims adjusters are professional and courteous.

One reviewer, Kristina from Minnesota, said it was easy to get coverage for her older home. “Our agent has been extremely helpful ... making sure that we understand our coverage and informing us of other options out there so that we could make the best decision for our home,” Kristina said. They also said rates seem reasonable.

Why are older homes more expensive to insure?

There are many reasons older homes are more expensive to insure, mostly due to added risks and higher potential costs for home insurance companies. For instance, older homes often have decades-old electrical, plumbing or heating systems. Because these systems are old, they can be more prone to failure, and the risks of fire and water damage can be higher.

Another consequence of outdated systems in older homes is they often aren’t up to code. As a result, if the home needs any major repairs, it will need to be updated to meet building codes, increasing costs.

Building materials can also be a problem. In many cases, old homes have building materials that are no longer used, such asbestos or lead pipes. Or, they may have intricate details that would be costly to replace by today’s standards. Examples might include plaster walls, ornate woodwork or custom woodwork.

What type of insurance should you get for older homes?

When purchasing an older home, consider standard coverage and policies designed to meet your home’s unique needs and risks. Standard coverage typically provides dwelling, personal property, liability and additional living expenses.

The home's structure is covered with standard coverage, as are your possessions inside. Liability coverage compensates you if someone is injured on your property. Additional living expenses are those you might incur if your home becomes uninhabitable due to a covered loss. However, older homes will often benefit from additional coverages like hidden water damage and roof damage.

The most common type of home insurance is called an HO-3 homeowners insurance policy. In many cases, this is the standard homeowners policy that covers the things mentioned earlier, such as coverage for the structure, personal belongings, liability and additional living expenses. Your older home may qualify for an HO-3 policy; if not, you may need to make a few updates, like fixing your plumbing system or patching up your roof.

If you can’t qualify for an HO-3 policy, you may need an HO-8 policy, also known as modified coverage. The latter is meant for older homes that can’t get an HO-3 policy due to their age, condition or historical significance. Modified coverage usually covers the full replacement cost, which is the actual cash value minus depreciation.

HO-8 policies typically provide less coverage than HO-3 policies. For instance, they usually cover the home’s actual cash value (ACV), not the replacement cost. ACV considers depreciation, so the payout is based on the property's current value, not the cost to replace it with all new materials.

Additional coverage options for older homes

Older homes can have many risks you wouldn’t find with newer homes, often making them more expensive to repair. Consider these coverages to protect yourself against the added cost of repairing an older home.

Extended replacement coverage

With this type of coverage, your dwelling coverage increases by 25% to 50% if you hit the limit. This can happen due to increases in construction costs or code upgrades. In some cases, you might be able to get guaranteed replacement cost coverage. This type of coverage reimburses you for the entire cost of repairs, even if they are higher than the 25% to 50% range.

Water backup coverage

Unfortunately, older homes can be more prone to sewer and drain backups. This can happen in older homes because they often have outdated plumbing systems. Of course, this can lead to water damage, which can be costly. These coverages help protect you in this situation.

Service line coverage

This coverage pays for any damage to utility lines that run to your home. You may not realize it, but you are responsible for paying for this damage. With an older home, these lines are often aging and may need to be repaired or replaced. That can be very costly without insurance. Fortunately, these coverages will pay for it.

Scheduled personal property coverage

This coverage is an add-on to standard home insurance, providing more coverage for valuable items. It is designed to protect valuable items beyond their standard policy limits. It may apply to jewelry, art, antiques and collectibles. These items are typically insured for their appraised value, not including depreciation.

Roof replacement coverage

Older homes commonly have older roofs, which can be more susceptible to wear and tear. Roof replacement coverage pays for repairing or replacing an older roof. Keep in mind that some insurers may only pay for the ACV of the roof, not the replacement cost. If this is the case, you may need additional coverage so you won’t have to pay out of pocket.

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FAQ

Can homeowners insurance deny me due to the age of my home?

Homeowners insurance providers may deny you due to your home’s age. Older homes often have outdated plumbing or electrical systems, obsolete building materials or structural issues. In these cases, you may still qualify for an HO-8 policy. These policies are designed to protect older homes that may have intricate features or outdated construction, making them ineligible for a standard home insurance policy.

What happens if I can’t get insurance on my older home?

Home insurance is not required by law, but it is required by almost all mortgage lenders, meaning there can still be consequences. The most obvious is not being able to obtain financing for the home you are trying to buy. If you inherited the home and it's been in your family for years or you bought the home outright, there is still the financial risk of having a costly repair not covered by insurance.

Not having insurance can also hurt the value of your home, making it difficult to sell or refinance. If you already own the home, consider making updates to your home if you are struggling to get insurance. Or, if you are interested in buying an older home, consider asking the sellers to make updates so you can obtain insurance.

How much does it cost to insure an older home?

The average cost to insure a home was $1,899 in 2023, or $158 monthly. However, the cost can be much higher for older homes due to the age of the home, structural issues and outdated systems such as plumbing and/or electrical. To get an accurate idea of the cost of insurance for your home, compare quotes from a few popular insurers.

Bottom line

Insuring an older home can be more expensive due to outdated heating, plumbing or electrical systems. Remember that older homes often need additional coverage, such as extended replacement and water backup coverage. Extended replacement coverage increases dwelling coverage by approximately 10% to 50% of the cost to rebuild your home.

To find the right coverage for your older home, get quotes from several providers and compare rates and coverage options.

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