According to the U.S. Census Bureau, California has the highest number of households with over 13 million. As one of the largest individual insurance markets in the country, shopping for homeowners insurance in the Golden State can be a headache-inducing mirage of constant radio and television ads. 

Given California’s susceptibility to home-threatening natural disasters, sufficient home insurance coverage is necessary to protect your property. Read on for an all-encompassing guide to navigating California home insurance.

Insurify can help you get the best and cheapest homeowners insurance in your area in just a few minutes, no matter your background, profile, or insurance needs.

How to Get Affordable Home Insurance in California

Purchasing a home will likely be one of the largest financial investments of your lifetime. With that investment, inevitably, comes risk. However, there are steps homeowners can take to minimize risk and protect their investment, including finding the right home insurance policy

The first step to protecting your property is homeowners insurance. Though not required by law, home insurance provides financial liability for your property and belongings from natural disasters or theft. Different coverage levels are available for different property types, locations, and other factors. 

Keep reading for a full guide on California home insurance

Homeowners Insurance Quotes in California by Company 

The price of homeowners insurance varies greatly from city to city. The following quotes are general estimates of annual home insurance premiums throughout California, insurance companies offer different coverage levels and some even offer bundling options for your home and auto insurance

As of 2020, the average home insurance premium in Florida costs $1,240 annually, and the median home value is $578,267.  

For the most accurate quote estimate, use Insurify to compare all of your choices in one place.

Homeowners insurance quotes in California by City

Like property costs, home insurance varies in price from city to city. Pricing is determined on ZIP code-specific variables such as the volume of claims filed nearby, crime rates, property costs, and risk variables such as natural disaster frequency. Even your specific neighborhood may determine if you pay more or less on our annual premiums. 

Buying and insuring a home comes with loads of unexpected costs and new living expenses. How can you be expected to pay all of these costs—vital as they are—and still provide for you and your family? 

Homeowners insurance rates aren’t designed with savings in mind. That’s where Insurify comes in. 

Rates in California can be relatively high or low compared to the national average—it all depends on which town you live in, though, overall, California has some of the most expensive real estate in the country. Here are the most and least expensive ZIP codes in California to buy and insure a home. Average rates within these ZIP codes tend to increase relative to property cost. In wildfire– or earthquake-prone areas, rates are often higher.

Most Expensive California ZIP Codes Cheapest California ZIP Codes
City Median Home Price  City Median Home Price
Atherton $7.05 Million Fresno $212,700
Santa Monica $4.154 Million Death Valley  $203,200
Beverly Hills $4.08 Million Big Bend $136,800
San Francisco $1.195 Million Winterhaven $88,600

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What does home insurance cover in California?

There are several types of home insurance. Specific terms of insurance policies may vary by state, but in general, the standard policy types are as follows:

HO-1

Basic

  • The simplest and least comprehensive type of homeowners insurance
  • Provides coverage for a handful of potential problems including
    •  natural disasters (storms, fires, wind lightning, volcanic eruption), 
    • explosions, 
    • theft, 
    • damage from vehicles, 
    • or civil commotion. 
HO-2

Broad Form

  • Broad form homeowners insurance policies include all basic form coverage, plus 
    • protection from falling objects, 
    • damage from the weight of ice, snow, or sleet, 
    • freezing of household systems including HVAC and pipes, 
    • sudden and accidental damage to pipes and other household systems or from artificially generated electrical current, 
    • accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam,
    • sudden and accidental damage 
  • HO-2 policies typically cover both dwelling protection and personal property
  • In some cases, Broad Form coverage may also include liability coverage. However, they still only cover the specific damages listed in the policy
HO-3

Special Form

  • The most common form of homeowners insurance are known as “special form” policies
  • While HO-1 and HO-2 policies are “named peril” policies (meaning they only cover dangers that are specifically listed in the policy) HO3 policies are “open peril” policies meaning they’ll cover all dangers except those specifically excluded in the policy documents
HO-4

Tenant’s Form

  • HO-4 policies, also known as renters insurance, are for people who lease rather than own their homes. 
  • Tenant’s form policies typically cover all the same dangers as HO-2 policies. 
  • These policies include personal property coverage and liability coverage, but don’t cover the physical structure of the house. 
  • Some HO-4 policies may also include loss of use coverage for the tenants.
HO-5

Comprehensive

  • Comprehensive form policies are usually the broadest and provide the highest level of coverage; not surprisingly, they also tend to be the most expensive type of homeowners insurance policies.
  • The biggest difference between HO-3 and HO-5 policies is that most HO3 policies are “actual cash value” policies, whereas typically HO-5 policies are “replacement cost value” policies.
  • An actual cash value policy will only reimburse you for the actual value of a damaged or destroyed item, while a replacement cost value policy will reimburse you for however much it would cost to completely replace or repair the damaged or destroyed item (up to the coverage limits on the policy). 
  • HO-5 policies also provide personal property coverage against a wider range of dangers than the typical HO-3 policy. Many HO-5 policies also have extra coverage for high-value personal property such as jewelry and artwork.
HO-6

Condo Form

  • Not surprisingly, condo form insurance is for condominium owners. HO-6 policies generally protect against the same types of dangers as HO-3 policies. 
  • They provide dwelling protection coverage with a twist: HO-6 policies cover the walls, floors, and ceiling of the condo unit but not the rest of the building. 
  • These policies also include personal property and liability coverage and may include loss of use coverage.
HO-7

Mobile Form

  • If you own a mobile home or manufactured home, you likely have an HO-7 policy. 
  • Mobile home form policies are typically identical to HO-3 policies, except they’re designed specifically for mobile and manufactured homes.
  •  Like HO-3 policies, they provide dwelling protection coverage, other structures coverage, personal property coverage, liability coverage, and possibly loss of use coverage as well. 
  • HO-7 policies generally only protect the home when it’s stationary; if you plan to move your mobile or manufactured home, you’ll need to get a special policy to cover it while it’s in transit.
HO-8

Older Home

  • Older homes have generally been built to less stringent code standards than recently built homes, and so insurers have designed a specialized type of homeowners insurance policy for them. 
  • HO-8 policies often only cover the basic perils listed in HO-1 policies and generally apply to homes that are registered landmarks or otherwise deemed historic homes. 
  • Owners of registered landmarks are typically forbidden from updating HVAC, electrical and other parts of the home to enable them to qualify for a standard HO-3 policy, so an HO-8 policy is often the only option for them.

Natural Disasters and Home Insurance Coverage

As California residents know all too well, natural disasters can be catastrophic to property and livelihoods. In California, especially, homeowners and renters alike face earthquakes and increasing wildfire risk each season. Earthquake damage? Flood insurance? Wildfire protection? Additional coverage?! What’s covered and what’s not when it comes to homeowners policies and natural disasters in California? Damage due to uncontrollable circumstances may still be covered- your level of coverage will determine how much your property is actually protected through your policy. 

With such risk, home insurance providers often charge higher premiums to cover potential disasters like the recent wildfires. That being said, with the right tools, you may still be able to find competitive home insurance rates in your area. To compare the best homeowners insurance companies, use Insurify to compare home insurance quotes all in one place.

California Homeowners Insurance FAQs

Why is home insurance so expensive in California?

Due to the increased commonality of natural disasters involving fires, high winds, and earthquakes, California homeowners, especially those fire-prone areas and along the coastline, may have higher-than-average home insurance premiums. When insurance companies take on increased risk, as they do in disaster-prone areas of California, they increase their chances of needing to pay out customers when disaster strikes. There are ways, though, that you can cut home insurance costs, even if you live on the water. Use Insurify to compare premiums in your area. 

Does USAA insure homes in California?

Yes, USAA insures home in California. However, policyholders must be active military members, veterans, or the family members of those in the armed forces. 

How long does a home insurance claim take in California?

Short answer: it depends. Of course, in times of crisis, like wildfires or earthquakes, many of your neighbors will also be filing claims with their insurance companies, crowding the systems, and slowing down the claims process. The amount of time it takes to file a claim in California will vary from case to case. To find the best home insurance companies in your area, use insurify to compare reviews and quotes. 

Conclusion: How to find the cheapest home insurance in California

Just like groceries or clothes shopping, you can find a good bargain on home insurance, without sacrificing sufficient coverage to protect your investment. Protect your home from water damage to burglars, and everything in between. With a little research and the right tools, you’ll be on your way to big savings.

Use Insurify to compare free quotes for home insurance premiums for your property in California.

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Updated July 7, 2020

Jackie Cohen received her B.A. in Global Media and Public Relations from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Currently based in Boston, MA, she works as a content writer for Insurify. An avid globe-trotter and foodie, Jackie spends her spare time adventuring far and near.