Are you a homeowner in Florida, or are you planning to buy a home in the sunshine state? If you are, then, you need to pay careful attention as you read this article.
Florida is a highly-desirable location for many people to live in, and the number one tourist attraction in the country. Living in Florida, however, is not as pretty as the views from the Sunshine state.
As a person who lives in, or intends to relocate to Florida, there are some things you should know about homeowners insurance.
To start with, it is important to know the causes of insurance losses in the state and the types of home insurance available in the state, including their coverage options. You also need to consider the qualities of insurance companies in the state before doing business with one.
Causes of Insurance Losses in Florida
The state of Florida reports more insurance losses than any other state in the United States. This has prompted many insurance carriers such as State Farm and Allstate to quit writing policies in certain counties in Florida. You need to know the causes of insurance losses in Florida, below are the major ones:
Floods and Water
As a hotspot for hurricanes and storms, Floridians are faced with threats of floods several times during the year, especially during the rainy season. Conversely, insurance companies in the state are swamped with insurance claims every year, with a record-high 34,995 flood claims in 2019 alone. For this reason, a flood is not covered under the standard insurance and you have to buy flood insurance separately from most companies.
Flood Insurance protects against damages caused by rising water seeping from the outside in and should not be confused with typical water damage.
Water damage is generally caused by an issue on the inside of the house, such as a water heater bursting or a pipe bursting in the wall. Most policies will only cover damages from rain getting into the house due to cracks in the walls or roof.
Close to three million Florida homes are at the risk of getting damaged by a category 4 hurricane, the worst type. Asides from this, the frequent hurricanes and storms that rage through the state makes high wind and wind-related damages to be a permanent source of worry for stakeholders. Although wind damage is covered under the standard home insurance, homes located in hurricane zones are mostly exempted from coverage. If your house is in such a dangerous zone, it is advised that you add hurricane coverage to your policy and verify basic wind coverage is included.
Apart from the geography-induced risks such as flood and wind damages, fire is also a major cause of insurance claims. Every day, firefighters respond to over 200 house fires across the state. Also, home electrical systems are often damaged by extreme weather which in turn cause fires to break out. Unlike the former two, fire damages are covered under the standard home insurance policy. However, you have to be sure your coverage is enough to rebuild your home if it gets destroyed in a fire.
Types of Home Insurance in Florida and Their Coverage Options
To Live in Florida is a dream for many Americans but to actualize this dream, you need to do some home works; both literally and figuratively. Buying a home or paying the down payment on a property is not enough to become a Bonafede homeowner in Florida. Getting insurance for your home is a priority and before you can do this, you need to know the types of home insurance available as well as their coverage options. Let’s get to it:
The first and most basic of insurance plans is dwelling insurance which covers your home structure. It protects you from losses from fire, theft, vandalism, wind, and hail damage, among other basic infrastructural damages.
Personal Property Insurance
While standard home insurance, also known as dwelling insurance, covers structural damage to your home, personal belongings can be protected under personal property insurance. This insurance covers belongings from clothes, furniture, electronics to valuable items. This coverage does not have to be added to a standard HO-3 or HO-6 policy. If you have high-value items in your home, you can cover them over and about your personal property coverage with “Schedule Property Insurance” coverage and you may want to talk to your insurance company about limits and get this insurance.
Liability insurance is additional insurance that helps pay the cost of damages caused by those listed on the policy. This insurance policy is mostly used by people to cover damages that might be caused by their pets. However, you may be legally liable for any damage or loss caused by your negligence on your property to another party.
Bordering the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, floods and hurricanes are frequently bordering residents of Florida. Due to the massive level of losses incurred after these phenomena, insurance companies do not cover them under the standard insurance plan. Thus, as a homeowner in Florida, you need to buy flood and hurricane insurance to cover your losses in case any of these disasters occur. A few carriers offer flood coverage as a rider to dwelling coverage.
Things to Consider When Choosing Your Insurance Company
When buying your insurance, the company you use is as important as the plan you choose. The capacity of the company will matter a lot when it is time to claim damages in case of loss. Therefore, before you decide on an insurance company, you may want to do some background check such as:
Due to the level of losses caused by the weather in Florida, as well as the volume of claims by policyholders, the financial ratings of some insurance companies are not the best to bet your home on. Companies have struggled to pay claims in the past and sometimes have to cancel policies. To save yourself from stress in case of trouble, buy your policy from a company with good financial strength. You can find the ratings of most insurance companies online or at AM-Best.
Insurance laws and regulations, especially in Florida, tend to favor the companies over the homeowners. Due to the complexity of the industry, most insurance companies find it easy to keep policyholders in the dark about what is covered in their policy and what is not. Find a company that is upfront about its terms, rates, and exclusions. A highly recommended task is to read over your policy jacket which provides you a complete breakdown of what is covered, amount of coverage, and exclusions once you receive your policy.
Every other point on this list culminates into this particular one; claims. Before you choose an insurance company to buy your policy from, check their protocols for making insurance claims. You want to buy your insurance policy from a company that responds promptly and adequately when a claim is filed.
One of the best ways to know the quality of service provided by a company is to read reviews online. Before you buy your home insurance, go to different companies’ websites and see what people have to say about their rates, customer service, and response when a claim is filed.
Lastly, it is important to remember the points listed above as you shop for your homeowners’ insurance. Floridian insurance companies continue to increase the rate of their policies, and the differences in home insurance between Florida and other states range from $300 to almost $1000 as an average homeowner in Florida pays almost $2000 for a $250,000 home.