Let’s face it. Finding affordable Florida home insurance is always a challenge in most parts of the state. Especially since most national companies no longer write homeowners insurance policies here. At the present time only 40 companies out of over 400 companies licensed to write home insurance are still writing new business in Florida.
If your home is located in a Southern Florida coastal county, it is even harder for you to find coverage. Most southern coastal counties have about 25 companies on average that are actively writing new business – and the closer your home is to the water, the number of companies that are willing to cover your home drops off dramatically.
Many Florida coastal homes end up seeking coverage with Citizens Property Insurance Corporation where they are subject to higher premiums and special assessments. However, just because your home is located in a Florida coastal area doesn’t always mean you have to pay more for insurance. There are lower cost options to insure your Florida coastal home if you know where to look.
While there are many factors that can affect your ability to find insurance for your Florida coastal home including its age and construction materials, the two main considerations are whether your home is located in the Citizens Wind Pool and the underwriting guidelines being used by private Florida home insurance companies for coastal homes.
The Citizens Wind Pool refers to the coastal areas across the State of Florida where homeowners are eligible to get a policy from Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (the state run insurance company) that specifically covers wind damage. Homeowners located in the Citizen Wind Pool end up with two policies covering their home: one from Citizens Insurance that covers wind damage and another from a private homeowners insurance company that covers losses from other risks such as fire. In general, the Citizen Wind Pool includes the areas up to 1000 feet inland from the Florida coast in most counties along with the barrier islands. It is slightly bigger in Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade Counties where it includes the area from the coast all the way inland to Interstate 95.
Florida home insurance companies generally state their restrictions on how close a Florida home can be located to the coast based on the following:
Whether or not the home is located in the Citizens Wind Pool
A specific distance (stated in either feet or miles) that the home must be away from the coast
A limit on how old the home can be if coverage is being offered for homes close to the coast
At the present time, most Florida home insurance companies are not offering coverage with wind in the Citizens Wind Pool – however a very limited number will if the home is 20 years old or newer.
Florida homeowners insurance companies that won’t cover homes on the coast currently have restrictions that range from 1000 feet all the way to 2 miles or greater from the coast.
Given the current availability of home insurance in Florida, it is still possible for many owners of Florida coastal homes to find private homeowners insurance in Florida – and at an affordable price.
Here are some things you can do to give your Florida coastal home the best chance at affordable home insurance:
Make sure your home has hurricane shutters. The small group of Florida insurance companies that cover coastal homes will require that your home has shutters.
When you are shopping for Florida home insurance, it is essential that you work with more than one independent insurance agent – not just one. Why? Because at this time, out of the 40 Florida home insurance companies still writing new business, very few will write coverage in the Citizens Wind Pool or homes close to the coast. Using more than one agent will give you your best opportunity to get quotes from all of the Florida home insurance companies that are still willing to cover coastal homes. If you miss even one of these companies you could end up paying thousands more for Florida home insurance.
If the policy on your Florida coastal home is canceled by an insurance company that only works with captive agents that only represent that company, an independent agent will be able to present you with more options for covering your home. You should expect the captive agent to discourage you from contacting an independent agent in order to get more quotes on your coastal home. Don’t fall victim to this. Seek out an independent insurance agent and exhaust all of your options before allowing your home to be covered by Citizens.
If you follow the steps above, you will give yourself the most options for saving money on insurance for your Florida coastal home.