Thousands of Floridians Now Safer from Storms Due to Innovative Home-Hardening Program
Tara Klimek or Kevin Cate
In two years, the My Safe Florida Home program reports retrofitting more than 26,000 homes and alerting Floridians to nearly $47 million in potential insurance discounts.
TALLAHASSEE— James King, a Sarasota homeowner, is one of more than 26,000 Floridians whose home has been strengthened to better withstand hurricane damage with grant funds through the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program. The MSFH program has provided nearly 400,000 free wind inspections and approved nearly 39,000 grants to help homeowners harden their homes against hurricanes.
“We feel fortunate to have this grant and to have established a safer residence which not only benefits us but everyone else living within our community and in the state,” said King in a letter to Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, whose department oversees the program.
“State lawmakers created the MSFH program to help Floridians better protect their property and families against catastrophic storms and financial devastation,” said CFO Sink. “In two years, we have achieved this goal and more by fostering a culture of mitigation in our state.”
In 2007, the Florida Legislature directed the MSFH program to inspect at least 400,000 site-built, single-family, residential properties and provide grants to at least 35,000 qualified homeowners by June 30, 2009. The first-come, first-serve program received over 425,000 requests for the free wind inspection.
To date, over 391,000 Floridians have received a free wind inspection and report through the MSFH program. The free report suggests ways homeowners can harden their homes against storm damage, and details if they are eligible to save money on their wind insurance premiums. Of homes inspected, approximately 56 percent of homeowners were eligible for an average savings of $220 on their hurricane insurance. The MSFH program expects to inspect 400,000 homes by March 1, 2009.
“We knew homeowners would be eligible for insurance discounts on their wind insurance premiums if they took steps to harden their homes,” said CFO Sink. “But we were delighted to find more than $46.9 million in potential insurance savings for Floridians based on the current structure of their homes. During these difficult economic times, an extra $220 in your pocket can go a long way.”
Chris Peeke, who lives in Lakeland, shared this comment about the inspection he received: “As a result of the My Safe Florida Home program, my more than $2,700 insurance premium was reduced . . . which will certainly help in our troubled economic times.”
To date, the MSFH program, with assistance from local governments and non-profits, has approved nearly 39,000 homeowners for mitigation grants. Of those approved, 26,383 homes have been strengthened with grant funds totaling $88 million.
CFO Sink has detailed the results of the MSFH Program in an annual report submitted to the Legislature today. For more information about the program or to obtain a copy of the annual report, log on to www.MySafeFloridaHome.com/education.asp
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. CFO Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.