Cons: Must be AAA member, be sure you understand your coverage
When my husband and I got married and bought our first house, we compared pricing and services on homeowner's insurance, and ended up with AAA. Their price was not the lowest, but they were very easy to work with, offered the types of coverages and options we wanted, and the agent spent a lot of time with us, as new homeowners, explaining all the different bits and pieces of homeowner insurance. We were very pleased with our agent.
You must be a AAA member to get their homeowners' insurance. Even with this extra expense, the rate was comparable to other agencies, plus we get the benefits of AAA membership.
When we bought our second house, we decided to check rates and services again. This time, AAA had the best rate out of several companies, including one that offered us a discount because we had our auto insurance through them. Some could match the rate but only with higher deductibles and lower coverage limits.
(A side note, for many years, we had one car insured through AAA and another through State Farm, because for some reason, the rates were so different, that even a multiple car discount did not lower the rates to what we were paying through the other companies. )
We had several claims on our first home, which made my husband afraid that they would cancel us or raise the rates. While our rates did go up slightly, they were still lower than at the other agencies we checked.
One claim was a weird situation. One day while cleaning the bathroom, my hand went straight through the tile in the tub area, putting a big hole in the wall. We called our agent and he came out the next day to determine what was wrong and whether it was covered. He okayed the claim. We decided to eliminate the tile and put in a nice, easy to clean tub enclosure, including a shower door, which we did not have before. AAA paid for the materials and the work to be done.
We filed another claim when a pipe burst in our basement, flooding everything and damaging tons of boxes of our stuff. In this instance, the agent came out right away again. He explained that we were lucky that the reason for the flooding was the broken pipe. It is about the only time that water damage to the basement is covered. It is not covered if your sump pump breaks down, if your basement itself leaks, if the windows leak, etc. Only a broken pipe is a valid claim. (Unfortunately for us, in our second house, we have had water in the basement for all the other reasons, but never from a broken pipe.)
This claim was a bit more difficult to handle. First, we had to make a list of all the items that were damaged and their approximate replacement value. This took quite a while, and I am sure we missed many items. For a few things, we had to "estimate" what we had. For example, we are big readers, but in that small house we had no room for most of our books. We had 25 boxes full of books that got completely ruined. It was next to impossible to sort through the boxes to get an exact count of how many books we lost, and forget even getting a list of the books themselves. 12 years later we are still going I had that book, oh, it must have been in the flood.
When we submitted our list, we got our first surprise. At our agent's recommendation, we had "replacement value" coverage for our losses. This means, that if something is damaged, stolen, etc. you are given the money for replacing the item, instead of its current market value. This made sense, since if something is several years old, it may cost you quite a bit to replace it, while its depreciated value is fairly small.
The way AAA handled this was to give us a check for
50% of the amount we listed for all the items at the replacement value. When I called to complain, I was told that this is how it works: You get a check for part of the money, then as you replace each item, you submit the receipt and get reimbursed for the rest of the item.
I was not thrilled about this. Some items that were damaged could not be replaced. For example, my husband had some very expensive nutcrackers that were purchased by his parents 30 years ago in Germany. These were expensive then, and were collector's items that could not be replaced. We only got half the value, and our estimate as to their value was low, since we didn't have them appraised recently.
Other items we did not bother to replace. We had a large collection of board games that we really did not play much. Since we did not replace them, we did not get the "replacement" value for the items.
It was also a bit inconvenient, having to save all the receipts for things I purchased and sending them to AAA. However, they were very prompt about sending out the checks when they received my receipts. There was a time limit to how long we had to replace the items and submit receipts. I do not remember the exact amount, but I think it was around a year.
So far, we have not had any claims in our second home (knock on wood). We tried to file a claim when our basement flooded due to a crack in the walls and leaky windows, but the agent showed us that it was not covered. I called several other insurance agents at that point to find out if they would have covered this type of thing (figuring on using it as ammunition if they would, or possibly changing insurances anyway), but the three I tried said that it would not be covered.
We have several riders on our policy for some items that we felt required extra coverage: my jewelry and our computer equipment (we have 7 computers in the house right now). It was very simple to add these riders to our policy and very inexpensive. We get a form each year detailing what we have on the riders, asking us to check over the items and to submit updated appraisals and lists, if needed.
When we refinanced our house, we did not include our homeowners insurance in the financing. I had to contact AAA to arrange for billing us for the insurance directly instead of having the mortgage company arrange it. It was very easy to accomplish and was taken care of without any problems.
We have used different agencies for the two homes, and have been pleased with the agents at both locations. The customer service has been very good. All our calls and questions have been handled promptly, correctly, and without much effort required on my part.
Their pricing is competitive to other companies in my area. If you have multiple insurance types with them, you get a discount (for example, if you also have their auto insurance, life insurance).
The website for AAA is www.autoclubgroup.com. You can file a claim online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (I have not used this feature myself, but it is there if I need it.) You can pay your bills online, get quotes, change address, and perform many other functions.
As a AAA member, you get a lot of extra benefits unrelated to your homeowners insurance. One of my favorites is Trip Tiks, which are little booklets of maps that plan your trip from start to finish, showing any traffic problems, construction, etc.
If you are looking for homeowners insurance, I would recommend checking out AAA as one of your options. They have done a good job on our claims, and the agents were very good at explaining the policy to new homeowners. We have now had this insurance for 14 years on 2 different homes, and have been very satisfied with our experiences with this company.