We buy homeowners insurance to protect against the high drama of our greatest fears: tornadoes ripping off the roof, fire racing up the stairs, floodwaters lapping at the front porch. But in reality, the worst rarely happens. And even in the event that, say, a tree crushes your deck or an errant baseball shatters your leaded-glass picture window, the damage tends to be minor and the repairs easy to resolve with your insurer. As a result, most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about homeowners insurance. We get the coverage when we buy our house and then—unless and until something happens—pretty much put it out of our heads. “Before the total loss of my home, the only real communication I had with my insurance carrier was when the quarterly or yearly statement was due,” says Fred Wescoe, 73. But when his 15-year-old three-bedroom ranch house in Burnside, Ky., burned to the ground one April afternoon last year, his insurer, USAA, became his best friend. An insurance investigator visited the house the next day and reached out daily to keep Wescoe up to date on his claim’s progress. USAA quickly paid cash to cover motel, food, clothing, and other living expenses. “I didn’t have a toothbrush,” Wescoe recalls. Eight days after the blaze, USAA direct-deposited his payout to cover rebuilding the house and replacing the contents. The money also covered nine months of living expenses and some other costs, such as removing debris. USAA proved “extraordinary,” he says. Along with USAA, four other home insurers—Amica, Erie, MetLife, and Auto-Owners—were among the most highly rated in Consumer Reports’ most recent survey of more than 85,000 subscribers. About 7,400 of them, or 8 percent, reported filing claims from 2013 to 2016 with a company on our ratings chart. Homeowners insurance is consistently among the highest-rated services CR evaluates. But satisfaction with your insurer can breed complacency, and what you don’t know or forget about your policy could catch you off guard when trouble hits. You may discover that you’re not covered in critical areas, or that you’re spending too much. CR has identified 10 insurance surprises, good and bad, to watch out for, and offers smart ways to minimize disagreements over claims and find a better, fairer deal on premiums.