Floridians trying to save money on their home insurance premiums can guard against hurricanes at the same time. If you don’t have hurricane shutters installed yet, now is the perfect time. Insurance Claim Guides provides an excellent review why it is important to have hurricane shutters installed. If you have questions about types of hurricane shutters or looking to get a quick feedback, contact Cat 5 Shutters, professional installer of hurricane shutters in South Florida.
For coastal residents in areas hit by hurricanes (the “wind zone”), it is hard to tell what insurance companies want from you when it comes to protecting your home with shutters. If you are in a hurricane zone and do not yet have shutters on your home yet, you may want to consider doing them soon
Mandated Shutter Installation
In Florida’s designated “wind zone” (nearly all of its entire coast) all homes over $300,000.00 in value must add shutters to any home improvement project that requires a permit as required by state law. For these same beleaguered home owners, the state sponsored Citizens Property Insurance (the largest insurer for these targeted homes) will deny any storm-related claims if shutters are not installed. Homeowners in Florida got the message loud and clear and obtained permits to add shutters. As a result of these measures, 700,000 Florida residents installed shutters and were qualified for a generous “wind-mitigation” insurance discount by installing high quality window shutters. Owners received up to $5000.00 in annual premium savings by protecting their homes with shutters that perhaps set them back about $10,000 to $25,000 dollars. The added protection plus the generous insurance premium discount allowed these Florida residents to feel they were making a safe investment. It really made sense at the time.
“Too many coastal residents are protecting their homes with shutters!”
(Yes, you read that right) Insurance companies, feeling pillaged by the number of wind-mitigation discount customers, despite a major hurricane not occurring for going on six years, are now claiming they are having financial difficulties. Should another major hurricane hit the region, well, there might not be money to pay out because too many people are getting their wind mitigation discounts, so insurance providers claim. Huh? Insurance companies will NOT pay storm claims if residents DON’T have shutters but CAN’T afford the very program they sponsor to make installation of them possible for thousands of home owners. Insurance Companies Make Money First, Protect Homes Second To mitigate financial damage to the company as a result of 700,000 homeowners mitigating damage to their homes during a hurricane, insurers cancelled thousands of higher-risk policies. And they increased insurance premiums, in some cases over 40%, to cover the $700 million in credits they applied to wind-mitigation discounts, which also included credit for roof improvements as well. And, to add insult to injury, insurance companies are now discussing drastically reducing the very credit that enabled a homeowner to invest thousands of dollars into their homes.
By reducing the wind-mitigation credit on homeowner policies, homeowner may not install the best protection and instead choose the minimum needed to gain a discount. Which, in turn, might not be good enough for a hurricane but who cares – the damage from a blown in window or a bad roof that flew off is covered, anyway, right? The State of Florida “shutters” at the thought of a repeat of 2005 hurricane season In 2005, Florida homeowners were paid $36 billion dollars’ worth of claims in the aftermath of eight major storms. The existing insurance coverage debacle threatens the very economy of the state should just one major hurricane hit. There are subsides of “up to $2500” to home owners available through Florida’s My Safe Home program, should the shutter installation requirement be extended to existing homes to help afford them. However, $2500 would generally buy very temporary, poor quality window protection, according to FLASH, a non-profit disaster protection agency in Florida, thus, would cost more than it would help in an extreme tropical storm situation.
What’s a Homeowner in hurricane regions to do about shutter protection? As it stands now, homeowners who are not seeking permits for home construction are not required to install shutters. That being said, without shutters, it is left up to the interpretation of the insurer to decide if appropriate and prudent measures were taken to secure the home given it is located in an area where hurricanes are known to cause damage. Just because good quality shutters are not required doesn’t mean they are not a good investment to protect your home! Should you invest in shutters?
Consider the following:
- Strongly consider budgeting in other recommended storm protection measures such as roof improvements (get an expert opinion!) if you plan to go ahead with shutters. If your roof blows off, then the money spent on shutters would be wasted.
- Review your homeowner’s policy for premium discounts for wind-mitigation – understand the requirements, what should be inspected and how to submit the claim for a reduction in your premiums.
- Know exactly what your policy (policies) cover and doesn’t cover in storm/flood/wind situations and evaluate if time/money spent on such improvements make sense
- Investigate any state programs that offer subsidies or tax incentives for home improvements and follow the guidelines so you are eligible to benefit.
- Before making a final decision, speak with local disaster-relief agencies, neighbors or others who have been through a hurricane in your area and get advice specific to your location. Your neighborhood might be protected from the wind but has issues with flooding whereas a mile down the road, it is the exact opposite. Prioritize improvements to best protect your property!
- Document, document, document! Should a storm hit, have your paperwork ready to prove you spent money to protect your home and be sure your policy is able to completely replace any improvements you make.