Florida Wind Insurance & How to Lower Costs with Wind Mitigation Credits

Florida Wind Insurance & How to Lower Costs with Wind Mitigation Credits

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Wind insurance isn't mandatory in Florida but may be a requirement of your mortgage. Buying windstorm insurance is also a good consideration for Florida homeowners given the state regularly faces strong winds, hurricanes and other storms. The wind insurance companies that are available and the rates you'll pay for coverage vary widely depending on where your home is located, with beachfront property owners typically having the fewest options and highest rates. But no matter where you live in Florida, you can qualify for wind mitigation credits that significantly reduce the cost of windstorm coverage if your house is properly protected.

Windstorm Insurance in Florida

Wind insurance, like homeowners insurance, isn't required in Florida by the state, but it's often a requirement of mortgage lenders, particularly if you live in a coastal area. Windstorms that accompany hurricanes, along with tropical storms, strong winds and tornadoes, are all hazards for Florida homeowners, so gaining wind insurance is a good consideration to protect your property.

Florida law typically requires property insurers that provide homeowners, renters, mobile home or condo insurance to also include coverage for windstorm damages caused by National Hurricane Center-declared hurricanes as part of the policies. This windstorm insurance covers both damage to the dwelling, similar to hazard insurance, as well as the rain, hail, dust or other materials that enter the home through an opening caused by the windstorm. However, homeowners that live in higher risk regions for hurricanes or tropical storms may have difficulty in obtaining a policy, particularly one that includes broader wind insurance coverage.

Insurance companies in Florida area also required by law to give you the option of excluding wind insurance coverage from your homeowners policy if you submit a request in writing. This will lower your insurance cost, but we recommend not doing so unless you've found windstorm coverage through another insurance company. There's a high risk of significant damage to your home in the case of weather events like hurricane, hail or storms.

Wind Insurance in Wind Pool Areas

Homeowners that live in the highest risk areas, called wind-pool areas, may not have windstorm insurance included in their homeowners policies and would have to obtain separate coverage. Wind-pool areas include beachfront and coastal properties that are located within 1,500 feet of a major body of water. Citizens Insurance, Florida's insurer of last resort, is usually the only company that will provide windstorm insurance coverage in these regions.

Citizens was formed by combining the Florida Windstorm Underwriting Association (FWUA) and Florida Residential Property and Casualty Joint Underwriting Association, and it provides property insurance to those homeowners private insurers won't cover. It offers both wind-only insurance policies in Florida as well as homeowners insurance policies with windstorm coverage if you're unable to purchase a policy elsewhere. The cost of wind insurance, or other coverages, from Citizens is often higher than you may be able to find elsewhere, so we recommend requesting rates from several other insurers before purchasing a policy.

What is a Windstorm?

A windstorm typically refers to the gusts of wind, rain and hail, and other wind affects that accompany a hurricane. This is why windstorm insurance is commonly referred to as hurricane insurance, even though a hurricane can also bring flooding and other forms of property damage that windstorm insurance wouldn't necessarily cover.

Florida also sees other sources of strong wind, such as tornadoes, cyclones and other tropical storms. Damages from these events would be covered under the combination of a wind-only insurance policy, or your homeowners insurance policy if it includes wind coverage.

Windstorm Insurance Deductibles in Florida

Homeowners and wind insurance policies in Florida can have separate deductibles for hurricanes and other windstorms. A homeowners insurance hurricane deductible typically only applies to windstorm damage from storms declared to be a hurricane by the National Hurricane Center. These deductibles can either be a fixed dollar amount or set as a percentage of your homeowners insurance dwelling coverage. Hurricane deductibles will typically be higher than those for your standard homeowners insurance coverage but only need to be paid once per year. So if Florida is hit by multiple hurricanes and your home receives damage more than once, you would only need to meet the deductible the first time.

If your windstorm insurance company charges a wind deductible that applies to nondeclared storms, this can result in significantly higher costs, as you'd be responsible for a larger deductible for a greater number of claims. We recommend you review the deductibles carefully before selecting a Florida wind insurance company.

Cost of Windstorm Insurance in Florida

Wind insurance rates in Florida will vary depending on where your house is located, whether you purchase coverage as a separate policy, the insurer you choose, your home's value and aspects of how your home is built. The cost of wind insurance for an expensive beach house in South Florida, for example, will cost more than the same coverage for a small home that's located away from the coast or farther north.

The cost of windstorm insurance from Citizens in Florida similarly will vary according to a number of factors, with your home's location being one of the most significant. A $350,000 house in Jacksonville might cost about $900 for windstorm insurance, whereas the same house in Miami could cost over $4,000 to insure.

In addition to comparing rates from multiple insurers and increasing your deductible, Florida homeowners also have the option to lower their windstorm insurance rates by using wind mitigation credits. Wind mitigation credits are given to homeowners that implement certain home improvements that lower the risk of damage due to wind and hurricanes.

Florida Wind Mitigation Program and Credits

The Florida Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program (FCHDMP), also called the My Safe Florida Home program, was created to help residents lower their risks of property damage from wind and hurricanes. Insurance companies are required by Florida law to offer discounted windstorm insurance rates to homeowners who purchase homes with wind-resistant features, or retrofit these features onto an existing home.

Discounts from Florida's wind mitigation program can reduce windstorm insurance by up to 42%. In order to qualify for wind mitigation credits, you'll need to have a home inspection by a certified inspector who will check for certain features, such as:

  • Hurricane shutters
  • Impact-rated glass on doors and windows
  • Reinforced roof-to-wall connections
  • Roof-deck attachment
  • Roof covering, shape and bracing
  • Storm resistant doors and garage doors
  • Secondary water resistance

Windstorm mitigation inspections to qualify for credits are free for certain homeowners. In order to qualify for a free inspection, you would need to have a single-family, site-built home that is your primary residence and insured for less than $500,000 of dwelling coverage. You would also need to have a homestead exemption in order to be eligible. Homeowners who don't qualify for a free wind mitigation inspection can also pay to have one done themselves, a cost that is typically much lower than the discounts you'll receive on wind insurance.

During the wind mitigation inspection, the inspector may also recommend additional damage-prevention measures you can take to improve your home. By making these improvements, you can qualify for a larger number of windstorm mitigation credits and receive greater discounts. The FCHDMP provides grants to help residential homeowners afford these improvements to the construction of their existing homes. Though, whether you qualify for a grant, and your priority to receive one, depends on your home's insured value and your income.

Chris Moon

Chris is a Product Manager for ValuePenguin with years of experience in addressing critical questions about mortgages and homeowners insurance. He spends his time evaluating insurance providers and policy features to understand where consumers might find the most cost-effective coverage. Chris has contributed insights to the New York Times and many other publications.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.