Whether you already own your house or you're planning on purchasing a new one, it’s important to understand how homeowners insurance is calculated. Getting a rate estimate can be particularly helpful for determining if a certain home or location works (or doesn't work) for your budget.
Homeowners insurance cost calculator
Use our Policygenius home insurance calculator to get a free rate estimate.
How to calculate a home insurance estimate
Homeowners insurance rates can vary widely depending on where you live and your susceptibility to extreme weather damage or other risks. Your premiums are also based on factors that are specific to you and your property, such as your home’s estimated rebuild cost, its age and characteristics, your credit score, and how high of a policy deductible you choose.
1. Estimate your dwelling coverage
Dwelling coverage is the portion of your homeowners insurance that pays to repair or rebuild your home if it’s damaged or destroyed by a covered peril, such as a fire or windstorm.
While home insurance policies include several other coverages that protect everything from your personal belongings to liability, dwelling coverage has by far the biggest impact on your insurance premiums. The more of this coverage you have, the higher your rates will be. There are several online calculators that you can use to calculate your dwelling coverage limit, but most insurers should be able to provide you with an estimate when you get a quote.
Other than dwelling, your insurance coverages have a mostly minimal impact on your insurance premiums, especially if you opt for the default coverage amounts. But it’s important to understand how each coverage is calculated and opt for higher limits if your situation calls for it.
Other structures: Covers damage to buildings on your property that aren’t directly attached to the home, such as garages, sheds, fences, and carports. This coverage is usually 10% of your dwelling coverage limit by default.
Personal property: Helps cover the cost of replacing everything inside your home after a covered loss, such as furniture, clothing, kitchen appliances, and electronics. This coverage is typically set at 50% of your dwelling limit by default, but you may be able to increase your personal property coverage limit to as high as 70% for an additional fee.
Additional living expenses: Helps cover hotel stays, dining out, dry cleaning, and other additional living expenses when you’re unable to stay at your house after a covered loss. This coverage is typically set at 20% of your dwelling limit by default.
Personal liability: Pays for legal and medical expenses if you’re found legally responsible for injuring someone or damaging their property. Most insurers offer anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 in personal liability coverage.
Medical payments: Covers medical expenses if someone is injured at your home, regardless of who is at fault. Most insurers offer anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 in medical payments coverage.
Learn more >> What does home insurance cover?
2. Consider your home’s location
Home insurance rates are largely based on your home’s location and risk, such as its proximity to a high wildfire-risk area or the probability of break-ins in your neighborhood or ZIP code. Homes in areas with a high rate of property crime or natural disasters will likely be more expensive to insure compared to homes in safer locations. When deciding on your next home, consider its risk and whether or not the scenic view or convenient location is worth the potentially higher premiums.
3. Evaluate your home’s characteristics
When calculating your rates, insurers will consider various details and characteristics of the structure, such as its age, square footage, building materials, architectural style, number of rooms, roof shape and age, and the condition of its plumbing and electrical.
Homes that are larger, have outdated electrical or plumbing, or are constructed with obsolete materials will likely see higher rates since they’re either pricier to rebuild or because they face an increased risk of damage. Homes with pools, trampolines, or even dogs will also see higher home insurance rates due to the increased risk of an injury on the premises.
4. Choose a policy deductible
Your home insurance deductible is the amount you’re responsible for paying out of pocket on each claim before insurance kicks in to cover the remainder of the damage or loss amount. A typical policy deductible ranges anywhere from $500 to $2,000, but some companies offer deductible levels as high as $5,000.
Picking a higher deductible can lower your premiums, but it also increases how much you need to pay when you file a claim.
5. Check your credit score and claims history
Insurance companies consider homeowners with lower credit scores or multiple past claims to be riskier to insure compared to homeowners with good credit and a clean claims history. Even having one claim in the past few years or a credit score below 670 could mean higher home insurance premiums, so you’ll want to consider both of these factors when estimating your home insurance rates and deciding on a policy.
How to calculate how much homeowners insurance you need
To calculate how much home insurance you need, you’ll want to get an estimate of your home’s replacement cost and the combined value of everything you own. From there, you’ll have a better idea of how much coverage you need for the rest of your policy coverages.
Estimate your home’s rebuild value
A standard homeowners insurance policy covers the structure of your home against covered disasters such as fire, lightning, and severe windstorms. To ensure you’re completely covered in the wake of a catastrophe, you’ll want your policy’s dwelling coverage limit to be high enough to cover the cost of rebuilding your home from the ground up.
Also referred to as the home’s replacement cost, this amount is based on how much you’d need to pay to rebuild your home from the ground up at today’s prices with materials of similar type and quality.
Though the two are often misconstrued, replacement cost is not the same as the home’s market value or sales price, says Mark Friedlander, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute. "Insurance replacement cost often differs materially from a home's market value, which includes the value of the land and is highly influenced by supply and demand."
How to inflation-proof your home insurance coverage
Amid high inflation and an uptick in severe weather, home construction costs have skyrocketed the last few years. Not only has this led to a decrease in the number of new homes being built, but its also caused many homeowners to be underinsured, or without enough dwelling coverage to rebuild their home in the event of a disaster.
To ensure your home is fully covered for a rebuild, consider the following extended dwelling coverage options that protect your home against everything from rising inflation to localized demand surge after a major catastrophe.
Extended replacement cost: This is a policy add-on that extends your dwelling limit in case your home is destroyed and rebuild costs are higher than the limit stated on your policy. Most carriers offer 25% or 50% in extended replacement cost coverage for anywhere from $50 to $100 in additional yearly premium.
Guaranteed replacement cost: This covers the full cost of rebuilding your home after a disaster, regardless of the cost. While similar to extended replacement cost in that it provides you with a buffer against rising construction costs, there isn't a cap or limit to how much it will pay out. However, this coverage is typically an extra $100 to $200 in annual premium expenses.
Inflation guard: With inflation guard, your insurance provider automatically increases your dwelling coverage limit each year to keep pace with inflation. This coverage is generally included on most standard company policies today.
Ordinance or law: This covers the increased cost of rebuilding your home to comply with local building codes and ordinances. Most standard policies include a small amount of ordinance or law coverage, but most offer extended coverage options for an additional fee.
Estimate the value of your personal belongings
You should have enough personal property coverage to cover the value of all of your personal belongings, including your clothes, furniture, electronics, and jewelry. The best way to find out how much personal property coverage you need is by taking an inventory of your personal belongings.
Inventories make it easy to categorize and value your possessions by room and property type, and can also come in handy if you ever need to file a claim for theft or property damage, or if you need to report losses on your tax return.
Actual cash value vs. replacement cost coverage
A standard home insurance policy covers personal belongings on an actual cash value (ACV) basis by default. This means if, say, your couch is damaged or destroyed and you file a claim, you'll only be reimbursed for the depreciated value of the property at the time of the loss.
If that doesn't sound ideal, most insurance providers will let you upgrade your personal property claim settlements to replacement cost value (RCV) for an additional fee. With RCV coverage, your insurer would reimburse you for the value of a new, similar couch at today's prices. When you receive an RCV reimbursement, you'll first receive an ACV check for the item followed by its recoverable depreciation amount after you make the purchase.
Because insurance companies often calculate ACV based on an item's lifespan rather than its physical condition, ACV payouts tend to be far less compared to RCV.
Estimate the value of your assets
You’ll want enough personal liability to protect the value of your assets in case you're found legally responsible for someone else's injury or property damage and sued. To find out how much you own in assets, you'll want to take everything you own that hold value into consideration, such as your house, car, personal possessions, your 401k, liquid assets, and anything else that could be rewarded to the injured party in a lawsuit.
Common liability claims include slip and fall injuries, dog bites, pool-related injuries, and trampoline-related accidents. Between medical bills, attorney fees, and legal settlements, a lawsuit could run you hundreds of thousands of dollars — potentially putting all of your assets at risk.
Consider supplemental liability insurance
If you have more than $500,000 in assets (the maximum amount offered under most home policies), consider purchasing a personal umbrella insurance policy. Also known simply as umbrella insurance, this is a type of supplemental insurance coverage that acts as a buffer for your policy in case your liability coverage limits aren't high enough to cover the cost of a lawsuit. You can generally purchase up to $5 million (in $1 million increments) in umbrella insurance coverage.
Estimate home insurance rates by coverage level
On average, home insurance premiums differ substantially based on how much dwelling coverage is in your policy. Here’s the average annual home insurance rate for five different levels of dwelling coverage.
Average annual cost
Learn more >> Average homeowners insurance cost in 2023
Home insurance rate estimates by state
Along with the price to rebuild your home, your home’s location plays a significant role in how much you’ll need to spend on homeowners insurance. Here’s the average yearly home insurance rate in each state.
Average monthly cost
Average annual cost
Why you might need more home insurance coverage than you think
With inflation still higher than historical averages, rising construction costs, and continuing labor shortages, the cost to rebuild homes after a natural disaster continues to rise. And your home insurance policy might not be keeping up with it.
According to our Policygenius Home Insurance & Inflation Shopping Survey, more than half of homeowners (56%) didn't review their home insurance policy in the last year to see how much coverage they had. And even fewer homeowners have valuable coverage add-ons to offset rising costs due to inflation and the increase in natural disasters.
To ensure you have enough dwelling coverage to fully protect your home in the event of the unexpected, talk to an insurance expert at Policygenius to discuss your options. Our licensed experts can help you calculate how much coverage you need and even start the process of helping you buy or switch home insurance policies.
To find the average annual premium by coverage level and for each state, Policygenius analyzed home insurance rates provided by Quadrant Information Services for over 30,000 ZIP codes in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. Our sample quotes for each company and ZIP code were for a 40 year-old homeowner with no claims history, good credit, a $1,000 deductible, and the following coverage limits:
Other structures: $30,000
Personal property: $150,000
Loss of use: $60,000
Given the fact that both population size and premium amounts can vary drastically depending on where you live, we assigned weights to each ZIP code based on its population of homeowners, according to U.S. Census Bureau data; and to companies based on their market share presence in each state, according to Quadrant Information Services. Once weights were assigned to each ZIP code and company, we were able to calculate our national average home insurance rate.