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The top cause of homeowners insurance losses in the U.S. is wind and hail, which accounted for 45.5 percent of the claims made in 2020, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I). In Florida, most homeowners are aware of the dangers of wind damage, especially those who live near the coast and are subject to hurricanes and tropical storms. Although homeowners insurance policies cover wind damage, it may require a separate deductible for damage caused by named storms determined by the National Weather Service.
Windstorm insurance in Florida
Windstorm insurance is not a separate policy, even in high-risk states like Florida. A standard homeowners, condo or renters insurance policy will cover windstorm damage.
However, carriers might have a separate “named storm” deductible. This means that if you’re a homeowner, the damage caused to your home by wind is typically covered under your standard homeowners insurance deductible. However, a separate deductible applies in cases where damage is caused by a “named storm,” such as a hurricane or tropical storm.
Florida insurers must offer a $500, 2 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent deductible for named storms. Percentage deductible amounts would be determined by applying the percentage to your dwelling coverage amount. So, for $250,000 in dwelling coverage, if your hurricane deductible were 2 percent, you would pay up to $5,000 out-of-pocket for windstorm damages caused by a named storm.
Do I need windstorm insurance?
Windstorm insurance is baked into your homeowners insurance, which covers property and structure damage caused by windstorms. Although Florida’s law does not require homeowners to obtain homeowners insurance, most mortgage lenders do. Additionally, even if your lender does not require homeowners insurance, you may end up saving more down the road by having a policy, as property damage caused by windstorms, or other perils, can become costly. If you live in an area prone to hurricanes or other wind-related weather and have an active homeowners insurance policy, it is probably a good idea to ask your insurance provider if your policy has adequate protection from wind-related damage.
How much does windstorm insurance cost?
The average cost of homeowners insurance in Florida is $1,648 per year for $250,000 in dwelling coverage. This is well above the national average of $1,383. Cost can vary significantly depending on what parts of Florida you live in, though.
In addition, one factor that impacts Florida insurance is the possible collapse of the Florida insurance market, which has government and industry experts worried. Due to a high number of fraudulent insurance lawsuits that plague insurers in the state, as well as the costs of increasingly common natural disasters, insurers are leaving the state, making it harder for homeowners to find policies. Insurers that remain are hiking rates to remain afloat. While this situation is still developing, homeowners are urged to maintain their home’s good condition so they may be less likely to have to file a claim for wind or other damage following a natural disaster. Mitigation efforts such as reinforcing windows and garage doors can help protect you and may even lower your insurance rates.
How do I get windstorm insurance?
Under Florida statutes, insurers that provide coverage for any property must also include coverage for windstorm damage in their standard property policies. However, homeowners that live in an area more prone to windstorms, such as coastal communities, may have difficulty qualifying for coverage through a standard carrier and might need to obtain a policy through Florida’s state-backed FAIR plan, Citizens.
While companies are offering some of the best home insurance policies in Florida right now, the market is rapidly changing and insurance is becoming harder to get. You may need to shop around to find the best insurance coverage for your situation.
If you have trouble obtaining windstorm insurance, you might want to look at the Florida Market Assistance Program (FMAP), a free service that helps Floridians find homeowners insurance.
Ways to save on windstorm insurance
Living in a higher-risk area can hike up your insurance costs quite a bit, but there are ways you may save on homeowners insurance costs. There are also several state-run programs to assist homeowners in lowering their costs, such as programs to help homeowners offset their risk of windstorm damage. In addition, Florida requires that insurers offer windstorm credits, which can help add to savings. Lastly, you may be able to carry a higher windstorm insurance deductible, but remember that a higher deductible means more expenses are paid out of pocket in a claim situation.
Florida Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program
The Florida Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program (FCHDMP) helps Florida home and property owners reduce their risk of property damage from windstorms, which may reduce insurance rates. Grants are available for mitigation efforts such as retrofits, inspections, and construction or modification of building components that help a residential or commercial building better sustain hurricane winds.
Wind mitigation credits
By Florida law, any homeowner with wind and hurricane-resistant features is entitled to wind mitigation credits, enabling them to receive a discounted insurance rate for windstorm coverage. A windstorm mitigation inspector will most likely check for features such as proper roof covering, wind-resistant windows and doors, wind-rated garage doors, hurricane shutters and more to qualify for wind mitigation credit.
The larger the wind mitigation credit you qualify for, the greater the discount you will receive from your property insurance company. During the inspection, the inspector may even suggest a few more preventative add-ons to your home to further reduce your insurance costs.
Ways to protect your home from windstorm damage
Florida homeowners can help protect their homes from damaging winds to reduce the impact of a windstorm. Additionally, by adding protective measures to the features of your home, you may also reduce your insurance premium. A few ways that homeowners in Florida can help protect their homes from damage caused by severe wind include:
- Installing storm shutters.
- Trimming the trees and removing dead or damaged ones, or those that are closer to the home than the height of the tree.
- Ensuring proper sealing of windows, doors and garage.
- Having proper roof covering and clear gutters.
- Reinforcing your roof with hurricane straps that attach the roof to your home’s walls.
- Installing wind-resistant doors and windows, as well as wind-rated garage doors.
- Reviewing your procedures for securing outdoor objects such as dog houses, garbage cans and picnic tables in the event of a storm.
- Bolting manufactured housing to the foundation using anchor bolts.