|Date:||May 28, 2017|
There are many new homeowners on the Treasure Coast and maybe a few current homeowners who want this reminder: Property insurance policies cannot be changed or issued when a tropical storm or hurricane watch or warning is announced anywhere in Florida, even if the cone of uncertainty is hundreds of miles from the Treasure Coast. Flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period before taking effect.
Get an insurance check-up at the beginning of hurricane season to be sure you are covered if disaster strikes.
Sit down with your insurance agent to discuss your home and business policies. You may be surprised what is or is not covered. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the most common homeowner’s insurance policy covers repairs, not the replacement cost of a dwelling if destroyed.
Some policies require additional riders for, among other things, pools, screen enclosures, outbuildings, storage, temporary housing, and the contents of student dorm rooms. Your insurance company may also require you to pay substantial deductibles out-of-pocket before the insurance claim is paid.
And hurricane coverage is often just windstorm coverage. You may need separate flood insurance even if water damage is caused by plumbing breaks or rain through a damaged roof.
Condominium and cooperative units are even more complex. In addition to insurance for your unit, you may be assessed your share of disaster recovery expenses for common areas, buildings and grounds if the master policy does not fully cover repairs.
Home and business owners who want more coverage for lower costs can research their options and get quotes from insurance agencies listed on the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.
Visit the Choices program at the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation website www.FLOIR.com/choices. Answer three questions including the approximate value and age of the dwelling, whether it has wind mitigation features and the county where the house is located. Then click “View” to see the typical home owner insurance premiums from multiple companies. These are the companies that cover dwellings in that area.
Expect actual premiums to differ based on coverage options, particularly whether the home is insured for repairs or replacement value and the type of construction.
The premiums for a pre-2001, $150,000 house with no mitigation in St. Lucie County range from $2,654 to $6,438 annually from 27 insurance companies listed on Choices. The same house with mitigation efforts such as storm shutters and roof ties has premiums ranging from $1,141 to $3,220 annually.
Mitigation steps are listed in the Hurricane Retrofit Guide at www.FloridaDisaster.org/HRG/index.asp.
And ask your insurance agent how to prove mitigation efforts to get the discount. Typically verification is done by a licensed contractor.
Do it now
The first storm of the Atlantic hurricane season was Hurricane Alex on January 14, 2016. Don’t wait to change coverage as Tropical Storm Bonnie is being announced. You could have a long wait for coverage to take effect.