Florida home insurance is expensive, to say the least. Our most recent data shows the average Floridian pays just under $2,000 per year for their coverage. That makes the Sunshine State the third most expensive for homeowners insurance, just behind Louisiana and Oklahoma.
The good news is that the state legislature has signed bills to hopefully bring homeowners some relief from Florida’s increasing insurance rates. Unfortunately, it’s going to take some time before the new laws’ impact makes its way to the people who need it the most. Until that happens, it’s up to Florida homeowners to figure out how they can control their home insurance costs.
That’s where we can help. Our Kinfolk have decades of industry experience under their collective belts, so we know a thing or two about saving money on home insurance in Florida. Here are a few ideas for Florida homeowners who want to control their insurance costs.
Harden your home against risk
Does it seem unlikely that an insurance company would want to help homeowners lower their insurance costs? In a recent Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit, our CEO Sean Harper acknowledged that it might seem counterintuitive, but pointed out that when homeowners live in a safe home, “we pay less for reinsurance we need to insure that home.”
Florida state law requires insurers to set premiums that cover their reinsurance costs and the claims they expect to have. So basically, when reinsurance prices go up, insurers that rely on reinsurance have to raise their rates, too.
Hardening your home against risk can go a long way towards controlling your home insurance premiums. In Florida, a large part of the overall premium is driven by hurricane risk, but homeowners can mitigate that risk by:
- Securing your roof. Roofs in need of repair are more vulnerable to wind and rain, so start by inspecting your roof for signs of damage. You may also want to consider improving your roof-to-wall attachments. Florida home insurers give discounts to homeowners with hurricane clips.
- Protecting your windows. Whether you get hurricane shutters or impact-resistant windows, you want to guard against flying debris that could damage your windows and let rain in.
- Sealing gaps and cracks. Keeping water out is a major concern, so check the exterior of your home for openings and seal them up with caulk.
- Diverting water. You want your gutters to move water away from your foundation, but they can’t do that if they’re clogged with debris. Keep them clean and set up downspouts to divert water.
- Trimming your trees. Hurricane winds can knock down even healthy branches, so hire a professional to trim them back and to remove dead or dying trees.
Homeowners can also look to My Safe Florida Home, a program that provides owners of site-built, single-family, residentials properties with funds for hurricane mitigation inspections and home-strengthening improvements. Recent legislation allocated $150 million in funds to the program.
Understand how your coverage works
No one expects homeowners to be experts on their home insurance – that would be asking a lot! But the more you know, the better you can control your costs. For example, insurance companies usually offer discounts for behaviors that are beneficial to them, like installing security alarms. State governments can do that too, which is why so many Florida homeowners know to ask their insurers about wind mitigation inspections.
Deductibles are another coverage feature that you can use to control your costs. Essentially, a deductible is the amount of risk you’re responsible for in a loss. If you’re comfortable taking on more of the risk, you can increase your deductible to lower your premium.
You should note, however, that you want to select a deductible you can afford even if you’re hit with a catastrophic loss.
Another feature of your policy that you may want to look into is how your property is valued. Typically, your dwelling coverage, the part that insures the structure of your home, is based on your home’s replacement cost. This means their insurers don’t subtract depreciation when figuring out the amount of the loss in a claim.
However, Florida homeowners with older roofs may want a policy that has a schedule for your roof based on its age. Instead of paying for a brand new roof, a policy with a roof surfacing replacement endorsement pays a specific percentage of what your roof is worth based on its age. This can save you a lot in premium, but it does mean you get less money if your roof is damaged. Again, the key is figuring out what you can afford and weighing it against what amount of risk you’re comfortable with.
We should note that the Florida Senate Bill 2D prohibits insurers from refusing to insure or renew a homeowner’s policy with a roof that is less than 15 years old solely based on its age. If your roof is at least 15 years old and your insurer requires you to replace your roof before it will issue or renew your policy, then you’re allowed to pay for a roof inspection. If that inspection reveals your roof has 5 or more years of useful life left in it, then your insurer cannot deny coverage based on your roof’s age.
One common misconception about home insurance is that policies are all the same. What you buy from Insurance Company A varies little from Insurance Company B, so it doesn’t really matter which policy you choose.
But as our CEO pointed out during the AMA, insurance companies all have different algorithms they use to price and quantify risk. As a result, premiums, and what you get for them, can vary quite a bit, so it just makes good sense to look at several companies before you decide. Just remember that when you compare home insurance policies, you want to look at:
- Coverage limits.
- What’s covered.
- What’s not covered.
- Claims processes.
- Customer reviews.
We can also apply this tip to the process of buying a house. Most people know that you want to look at several homes before you make an offer, but we think you should also keep insurance in mind as you shop.
New homes are typically less expensive to insure because they’re more likely to meet modern building codes. Plus, owners of newer homes often benefit from innovations in construction methods and building materials.
Focusing your location more inland means you’ll find more homes that haven’t been as adversely impacted by extreme weather as those closer to the water. And narrowing your search even further by avoiding high risk flood zones can also help you control your overall home insurance costs.
Seeing your home insurance rates go up year after year can be incredibly frustrating, but there are things you can do now to help you take control of those costs. Whether you make updates to your home, adjust your coverages, or shop for a new insurer, you can be better equipped to weather the storm until reforms improve the situation.