While Florida is known for its beautiful sandy beaches and sunny, warm weather, Florida is increasingly experiencing extreme weather – especially during its hurricane season. After Hurricane Ian hit in late September of 2022, it became increasingly clear how vital stricter building codes have been in ensuring that homes and other residential structures survive extreme weather. Data from CoreLogic’s analytics firm showed that wind-related losses in one hard-hit county of Florida doubled for structures built before 1996. In this article, we’ll look closely at Florida’s building codes and what this means for individuals looking to reduce their risk and make it easier to purchase homeowners and flood insurance.
Florida’s Building Codes and Reducing Insurance Costs
According to Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, Florida is considered to have the strongest building codes among Gulf and Atlantic Coast states. Notably, South Florida has the strictest codes for hurricanes and wind in the world. Newer codes may include requirements on roof-to-wall connections, impact-resistant windows, and hurricane shutters. The focus of these codes is on keeping the roof on and protecting openings in a building to make sure that water and debris can’t come in.
Newer building codes could ultimately make homeowners insurance more affordable for homeowners. If you live in Florida, you are likely not surprised to learn that this state’s homeowners pay the highest premiums in the U.S. and many carriers have stopped writing new policies in Florida. Older homes in particular are really difficult to get insured for and are very expensive if they can get insured at all. Homeowners who invest in shutters, high-impact glass, or even upgrade their garage door can help them not only protect their homes but qualify for discounts on their homeowners’ insurance policy. Some homeowners may soon be eligible for a program that would provide grants for up to $10,000 for storm-safety improvements. If you have an older home in Florida, there are ways to retrofit and mitigate the risk of storm damage that can help protect your family’s life as well as protect your property.
Understanding Your Homeowners’ Insurance Policy
If you own a home or property in Florida, it is crucial to thoroughly read and understand your homeowners’ insurance policy. While many homeowners’ insurance policies will help cover costs due to wine and hurricane-related damages, most of these policies will not cover flood damage. Especially after big hurricanes or tropical storms that dump a lot of water onto an area, homes will be at a greater risk of developing mold. If mold is missed during the repair process and becomes evident months or years later, it could be considered existing damage, and many policies have an existing damage clause. Mold can develop slowly and can even be found inside walls or between the outside structure of the home and its insulation.
You should also consider whether or not your homeowners’ insurance policy covers the full replacement cost of your home and if an extended replacement cost is available. Especially if you have an older home, your dwelling coverage may be too low and if you need to rebuild now to current codes, it can cost much more. For example, if you have a policy with 125% extended replacement cost, you will be provided up to 25% more than the indicated replacement cost on the policy. This allows you to better protect yourself against the rising cost of labor or materials.
All in all, the best advice for homeowners in Florida is to work with an experienced insurance agency that can explain their coverage options to you. At Dunham Insurance, no matter what type of insurance coverage you need, we take the extra time to ensure that you completely understand your coverage and that it fits your needs perfectly. As an independent insurance agency, we are able to provide our customers with bespoke packages. Our objective is always to reduce our clients’ insurance costs by providing quality business, home, auto/marine, commercial, and personal umbrella policies. Get in touch today to discuss your home insurance needs!