I'd make sure you try before you buy. Like any helmet fit is key. I think WRSI, shred reddy, Voz, Grateful Heads (are they still around?), Sweet, FNA are all making good quality helmets, but if it doesn't fit your head well, it ain't no good. My experience is with Shred Reddy and it's taken some good hits to the head with aplomb and grace. (Has anyone noticed how unreasonable long the chin strap is on SR helmets though? What kind of freakish heads do they have other there?)
The SR I bought is cut above the ears & with no face protection. I kind of had the same reasoning as you - was an intermediate paddler and didn't think I needed more protection. I've since reconsidered. You don't have to paddle class V to hit your face. I'd consider it. I'm planning on switching to WRSI once they release the full face mask attachment - mainly because I got a free one, but having the optional full face attachment, a well researched & tested design, and at a relatively reasonable price is a pretty good sell.