Mitigation can save money on insurance
Once upon a time there were three little houses on a beautiful wind swept island in the Gulf of Mexico. One was made of straw and was built a long time ago, another was made of sticks and was built before Hurricane Andrew and another was made of brick and was built last year. Guess which one has the lowest insurance rates.
Premium rates to insure our Island homes have become so high in recent years that many homeowners are opting to self-insure, basically not purchasing home replacement insurance. There are, however, other ways to reduce the cost of insuring your home without going cold turkey.
The My Safe Florida Home program, www.mysafefloridahome.com, has been in effect for more than a year with the intent to provide free home inspections for single-family residential properties. After the inspection, a report is provided which can be sent to the homeowner’s insurance company resulting in a possible premium reduction.
The uniform mitigation verification inspection form helps insurance carriers determine the premium discount for wind insurance. The inspections are valid for five years, then a new inspection would be required in order to maintain the discount.
Discounts are determined based on the number of wind resistant construction features your home has. The more you have, the higher total discount. Also the location of your home will determine the discount, with high risk locations benefiting the most.
The value of the property can also determine discounts again with higher priced homes enjoying the most dollar value of discounts. The premium discounts range between 10 and 60 percent with many homeowners saving as much as 50 percent on the hurricane coverage portion of their policy.
The insurance carriers can justify the discounts because stronger, more wind-resistant houses have lower windstorm losses, and lower windstorm losses means reduced costs to insurance companies. The insurance discounts also provide some financial incentives for homeowners to strengthen their existing homes and for new construction to be built to the strongest options in the Florida Building Code.
Homeowners who do not want to wait for the My Safe Florida Home Program to provide the free inspection, can hire a certified inspector. The cost is in the range of $150 for an average single family home under 5,000 square feet, most private inspectors guarantee that you will save at least that much on your premium. Some of the construction features that qualify for discounts are:
Roof coverings such as shingles that meet the Florida Building Code requirements; roof decks that have been installed with large nails and close spacing, hurricane clips/strips that hold the roof structure to the walls; protection of openings such as windows and glass doors with impact resistant glazing or other protection systems including a variety of shutters; secondary water resistance that prevents the roof from leaking if the roof covering is blown off in a windstorm.
In addition, newly constructed homes built to the Florida Building Code since March 1, 2002, may be eligible for a discount.
Take advice from the three little pigs, before the big bad wolf huffs and puffs and blows your house down. Get a wind mitigation inspection. You and your loved ones will feel a lot safer, your home and possessions will be better protected and your checkbook will be just a little fatter.