You probably won’t be shocked to hear that homeowners in catastrophe-prone states like Florida and Louisiana typically pay more for their insurance. What may be a surprise is just how much home hardening can help keep costs down.
Hardening your home against risk reduces your likelihood of filing a claim. That’s a win for you because it helps you control your insurance costs while also saving you from dealing with repairs. But fewer claims is also a win for your insurance company, which is why so many of us give discounts for home hardening.
We’ve put together a list of our top home hardening tips. But first, let’s get on the same page about what home hardening is.
“Home hardening” refers to steps you can take to make your house more resilient against risks that may damage it. That often means identifying your home’s vulnerabilities and using better building materials and practices to reinforce them long before trouble approaches. In some cases, hardening your home brings it in line with modern building codes.
Homes are often vulnerable at entry points, like windows and doors. But you also want to consider what sort of perils your home faces. For example, if you live along a coastline, you probably know that your roof can also be vulnerable to high winds.
We organized our home hardening tips by peril, so you can focus on the risks most common in your area.
Our members in Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina face more risk for hurricanes than much of the nation. If you’re one of them, hardening your homes against hurricanes and windstorms is a top priority. You can start by:
Hardening your home against hurricanes and windstorms is so important in many catastrophe-prone areas that state legislators create incentives for wind mitigation. These can come in the form of grant programs, insurance premium discounts, and tax breaks. Below are a few examples of the incentives we found for wind mitigation.
The My Safe Florida Home Program provides free hurricane inspections to Florida homeowners. In some areas, eligible homeowners can also apply for a matching grant to retrofit their homes.
To be eligible for a matching grant, you must have been granted a homestead exemption and agree to make your home available for inspection once a mitigation project has been completed.
Additionally, your home must:
You can also save money on your homeowners in Florida when you mitigate your wind risk, so talk to your insurer about discounts.
The Louisiana Department of Insurance offers storm mitigation incentives to eligible homeowners who voluntarily harden their homes against hurricanes. These include:
Insurance companies may ask homeowners who want premium discounts to complete a Louisiana Hurricane Loss Mitigation Form .
State law requires insures to offer premium discounts on South Carolina homeowners insurance for wind mitigation, with an average maximum credit of 48% in coastal communities.
South Carolina also offers the SC Safe Home Mitigation Grant Program . Administered by the state’s Department of Insurance, the program provides matching and non-matching funds for homeowners who harden their homes against hurricane winds. The grants are only available for owner-occupied, single-family homes and only apply to retrofitting.
South Carolina homeowners can also earn tax credits for:
Qualified fortification projects must be on your legal residence and include things like roof covering construction and renovations on roof attachments, roof-to-wall attachments, secondary water resistance, and opening protections.
Wind mitigation can also get you a discount on your home insurance in Mississippi through the state’s wind mitigation program . It offers a free inspection that:
Mississippi homeowners who take part in the program may be eligible for matching grants to reimburse you for the cost of the improvements.
Home insurance generally only covers sudden, accidental water damage from internal sources (like a pipe bursting), so hardening your home against flooding is important. This may be particularly true if you live near the coast and need protection against storm surge, but floods can actually happen anywhere.
Long story short, you may invest in some of the fortifications to protect your home from flood damage:
Most people think of wildfires as a problem for western states – and they’re not wrong. California saw 7,490 wildfires in 2022. But that’s not the only state where homeowners may need to harden their homes against this peril. Florida, for instance, has had 717 fires as of this writing.
Some ideas for hardening your home against wildfire include:
We highly recommend hardening your home against the risks in your area, but we also realize that a lot of these tips are pretty expensive. Some involve major renovations and most require hiring professionals, which may mean you have to save up before you can get started fortifying your home.
In the meantime, here are some additional tips to help prevent insurance claims or at least minimize damage when trouble starts:
While none of these can replace quality home insurance, they can go a long way toward curtailing claims and controlling your costs. Check out the Kin blog for more suggestions for protecting your home.
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