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Insurance Bundlers Are Happy, J.D. Powers Says

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- When it comes to homeowners insurance, financial consumers are generally happy with their policies.

J.D. Power and Associates reports that customer satisfaction with homeowners insurance (covering billing and payments, claims, interaction, policy offerings and price) is at the "highest level in the history of the study."

Insurance policy customers who "bundle" their auto and homeowners policies with the same insurer are the "most satisfied" of all, J.D. Power says.

"The increase in satisfaction with policy offerings is directly related to customer perceptions that insurers are doing a better job in offering the right coverage options at competitive prices when policies are bundled," explains Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "Bundled policies not only may provide a reduced premium for customers, but may also be advantageous to both parties, as it allows customers to interact with a single insurer, potentially streamlining both billing and payment."

Whether you bundle or not, what's the best way for consumers to buy homeowners insurance?

To get some answers, we reached out this week to Ted Stimpson, chief executive at MyMove.com, a home moving services firm.

Here are a few "stage" areas where Stimpson says consumers can get an edge when looking for some solid homeowners insurance protection.

  • Stimpson defines the first level as the "basics." Here you get insurance on what he calls 11 of the usual home-destruction suspects, including fire, lightning, windstorms, smoke and other disasters. But do your homework. "Because of these limitations, many states are not offering this protection anymore, so double-check whether or not it is available in your area," he says.
  • Stimpson says the second level is the best option for most homeowners. "This is the next step up from basic; this coverage also protects your home from falling objects, snow and ice damage, frozen plumbing and faulty electrical systems, in addition to all the coverage from the HO-1 policy," he says.
  • Another good option for homeowners, this third category costs more than the first two, but Stimpson says it's a "lot more valuable." This option protects against all perils except the ones excluded explicitly from the policy -- almost always earthquakes, flood protection, "even war and nuclear accidents," he says.
  • Here's where home insurance for renters kicks in. The only difference from the previous three categories, Stimpson says, is that this policy protects all of your possessions but not the actual home itself.

J.D. Power adds that it's also a good idea to have an annual homeowners insurance policy, in large part to protect against changes in the value of your home. The firm advises bundling multiple policies, saying it could knock 15% off your total insurance bill.