Volume 4 Number 44
November 2, 2007

MY SAFE FLORIDA HOME PROGRAM INCREASES STANDARDS FOR INSPECTION FIRMS & INSPECTORS

Nearly six months after expanding statewide, the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program announced it is increasing standards for participating wind inspection firms, in a continued effort to improve the quality of inspections provided for Florida homeowners.

“After six months of providing services statewide, the My Safe Florida Home program is raising standards and requiring more of our wind inspectors,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “Floridians interested in hardening their homes deserve the best customer service from the highest-quality wind inspectors available.”

After undergoing a quality assurance review of more than 3,000 randomly-selected inspections and performing an independently conducted compliance audit, the MSFH program has renewed contacts with six of the 11 wind inspection firms to provide free wind inspections. Contracts for Alltech, ARA, Don Meyler Inspections, JVI, Skye Tec and WB Sanders Inspections will be renewed for three additional months, effective October 31, 2007. Inspectors performing free wind inspections through the MSFH program under the new contracts will be required to meet a number of new requirements, including:

Complete the uniform mitigation form required by insurance companies for homeowners to be eligible for discounts on their insurance premiums;
Have a minimum of two years experience in residential construction and/or residential inspection experience or shall be licensed in good standing as a professional engineer, architect or building contractor; and
Provide actual measurement (not an estimate) of window and door openings.

Additionally, the MSFH program is required to perform a number of re-inspections for homeowners who have received matching grants for improvements to their homes. Inspectors will be required to have a minimum of ten years experience and participate in additional training classes before performing these re-inspections.

Free wind inspections will continue on a timely basis, as the firms selected have the capacity to serve a large number of applicants. The program is still encouraging more homeowners to sign up for free wind inspections to help learn how to harden their homes and potentially save money on their wind insurance premiums. The MSFH program will issue a new request for proposal in November that may include future increases in program standards.

The MSFH program resumed offering wind inspections and expanded statewide this year after conducting a pilot program during the previous year. Since April 2007 the MSFH program has performed over 111,200 free wind inspections. More than 13,500 homeowners have been approved for matching grants and are working with the MSFH program to harden their homes. Statewide, the program has issued a grand total of more than 1,876 grants to homeowners for more than $6 million.

CFO Sink has reported that many homeowners who have received free wind inspections from the MSFH program are eligible for discounts on their wind insurance premiums without making a single improvement to their homes. To date, 78,739 or 71 percent of participating homeowners are eligible for an average discount of $192.55 on their wind insurance premiums, based on the current structure of the home during the free MSFH wind inspection.

Any Floridian who lives in a single-family, site-built home is eligible for a free wind inspection through the program. Floridians can apply on-line at www.MySafeFloridaHome.com or by calling the program toll-free at 1-866-513-6734. Homeowners who receive free wind inspections through the MSFH program will get detailed inspection reports, complete with additional eligibility information on matching grants and estimated insurance premium discounts, if the homeowner is eligible.

In order to be eligible for the program’s matching grant reimbursements of up to $5,000, the Legislature requires that homeowners meet the following requirements: have received a completed wind inspection after May 1, 2007; live in a single-family, site-built home built before March 1, 2002; have a valid homestead exemption; have an insured value of $300,000 or less; and be located in the wind-borne debris region.

Additionally, while the free wind inspections will still cover seven potential wind-resistance improvements, matching grants may only be applied to opening protections, including windows, exterior doors and garage doors, as well as the bracing of gable ends.