Florida wind insurance is not a requirement for residential homes in Florida. However, if you live in South Florida, mortgage lenders will definitely insist on the coverage. There is a reason why wind insurance is also known as hurricane insurance. We can, on occasion, get battered.
Homeowner’s insurance can be quite costly in South Florida. Policies usually consist of two sections, one for wind coverage and another for hazard, and each section has its own deductible. So, the first way to lower your insurance cost is to increase the amount of the deductible.
The second way to possibly reduce your wind premium is to obtain a policy that only covers named storms. Storms are named when they reach a circulating wind speed of 39 mph. Other policies may charge more and cover damage from tornadoes and other high-wind incidents in addition to tropical storms.
A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when wind speeds reach 74 mph, and Florida law requires insurers to offer discounts to homeowners who take steps to reinforce their homes against this type of wind damage. These discounts are called Wind Mitigation Credits, and the discounts can be applied when a buyer first purchases a home or years later.
As a Realtor, I always recommend a residential home buyer pay for a home inspection, a wood-destroying organism (WDO) inspection, and a wind mitigation inspection. Each one of these inspections requires different types of licensing and will most likely be done by separate individuals working simultaneously. The buyer doesn’t have to be present, but it is advisable since these various experts can answer any questions they may have.
The policies generally have a maximum allowable credit, so the improvements aren’t necessarily cumulative but do include these major elements: roof shape, attachment, waterproofing and bracing, window protection (shutters or impact glass), and door and garage protection.
NOTE: If you live east of I-95 in South Florida, you may not be able to obtain a combined wind/hazard policy because of the close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. In this case, you may have to purchase a separate wind-only policy. Citizen’s Insurance is one insurer that provides this type of policy.
For more information, check out the following links: Premium Discounts for Hurricane Loss Mitigation (floir.com) and homeinspectionuserguide.pdf (mysafeflorida.org)