Windstorm damage is usually covered by homeowners insurance. However, if you're a Florida homeowner living on or near the coast, you may live in a designated "wind pool" area. These high-risk areas can require you to buy a separate wind insurance policy for coverage.
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What is windstorm insurance?
Windstorm insurance covers damage to your home and personal property caused by extreme wind events like hurricanes, tornadoes and tropical storms. While homeowners insurance typically covers windstorm damage, Florida experiences heavy wind frequently and severely enough that insurers sometimes sell windstorm insurance separately from standard homeowners insurance.
Windstorm insurance vs. hurricane insurance
While windstorm insurance is sometimes referred to as "hurricane insurance," this isn't a completely accurate term simply because windstorm insurance does not cover all the damage a hurricane causes. In order to get comprehensive coverage for hurricane damage, you'll need to get a combination of homeowners, wind and flood insurance.
Do I need windstorm insurance in Florida?
While Florida law does not mandate homeowners to have wind insurance, mortgage providers may require it as part of the lending agreement. This is very likely if your home is near or on the coastline.
Even if you are not required to carry wind insurance by a lender, you should consider it. Heavy wind – whether by hurricane, tornado or other storms – causes significant damage all over Florida every year. Windstorm insurance can be worth it alone to prevent having to pay for roof repairs out of pocket.
How much is windstorm insurance?
The cost of wind insurance in Florida varies depending on many factors including:
- Your ZIP code
- Construction materials used to build your home
- Value of the home
- Your deductible
Your ZIP code has a heavy influence on the premium you pay for wind insurance. For example, you may pay $800 a year for a house valued at $250,000 in Tallahassee, while wind insurance for an equally valued home in Panama City could cost twice that.
Where do I get windstorm insurance in Florida?
Many homeowners insurance companies in Florida offer wind insurance coverage. The table below shows the best wind insurance providers in Florida according to Weiss Ratings, a company that specializes in insurance company ratings and analysis.
|Weiss safety rating
|Source: Weiss Ratings.
If you are unable to purchase wind insurance through a private insurance company, Florida has set up the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (CPIC). The CPIC helps Florida homeowners in high-risk wind damage areas buy windstorm insurance when other options are not available.
Windstorm insurance through CPIC is usually available to Florida homeowners who can't find equivalent coverage from a private insurance company, or if premiums from those companies is more than 15% of what CPIC offers.
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How to save money on windstorm insurance in Florida
You can receive a discount from your insurance company on windstorm insurance by adding wind mitigation features to your home. Insurance companies are required by state law to offer discounts through wind mitigation credits to Florida residents who buy homes with wind mitigation features, or who install them after purchase of the home.
When applying for wind mitigation credits, a certified inspector will make sure that wind-resistant features are installed. These features include:
- Impact-resistant doors
- Storm shutters
- Roof truss clips
- Hurricane straps
If you are a Florida homeowner with an insured value of $500,000 or less and a homestead exemption, you are eligible for credits towards a free inspection. Mobile, manufactured and second homes are not eligible for free inspection.
Even if you're not able to get a free inspection, definitely consider paying to have one done. The inspection cost should be lower than the wind mitigation discounts you could receive after it's completed, making it worth the investment.
When talking with the inspector, ask about additional steps you could take. Other renovations could lead to more discounts.
How to protect your home from wind damage
Some of the steps you take to earn a wind insurance discount also protect your home from wind damage, like installing wind-resistant doors and storm shutters. A few other ways you can protect your home from windstorm damage in Florida include:
- Trim the trees on your property (especially any that are near your home)
- Make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed
- Clean out your gutters
If you find yourself in need of windstorm insurance, compare quotes from multiple providers to make sure you're getting the best coverage at the best price. If you're not able to find a policy through a private provider, look into what the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation can do for you. Wind damage is a consistent risk in Florida, and protecting yourself against it should be a high priority.
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