Every homeowner is all too familiar with the task of buying insurance for their home and the strife that comes with that task. We often take the advice of friends and family when it comes to finding the right insurer, but we also can’t help but wonder if we are getting the best deal. Residents in Florida have some of the highest insurance coverage rates in the country. On average, Floridians pay just under $2000 a year for home insurance.
What You Need to Know About Florida Homeowners’ Insurance
While Florida law does not require homeowners’ insurance, most homeowners want to insure their investment. Also, if you own certain pets or a swimming pool, some cities and counties require liability coverage, which would pay for covered injuries to others, or damage to their property, for which you are legally responsible.
Florida Law requires insurers to provide policyholders the option to exclude coverage for your personal property as well as coverage for windstorm if you don’t want it. However, know that you can’t get new or additional coverage when a tropical storm or hurricane watch or warning has been issued anywhere within the state.
Most mortgage lenders will require you to purchase property insurance to protect their financial interest in the property. This could also include flood insurance if the property is located in a flood zone.
If you fail to obtain homeowners’ insurance, your lender may purchase it for you since loan contracts usually require it. This is called “force-placed” insurance and you should be aware that the premium for this type of coverage is very expensive and only covers the structure, not your personal property.
Depending on your home and which insurer you choose, you may have several options of homeowners’ insurance packages to cover your property. Each package provides coverage against specific hazards or events that cause damage to property.
What Is & Isn’t Typically Included in Florida Homeowners Insurance?
What is Typically Included in Florida Homeowners Insurance?
Property & Liability Coverage
Loss of Use/Additional Living Expenses
Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse
Mold Damage from Covered Incidents
What is Typically NOT Included in Florida Homeowners Insurance?
Property & Liability Coverage
Condos may require additional coverage
Mobile homes may require additional coverage
Additional Event Coverage
Most homeowners’ insurance policies cover damage caused by windstorms, hurricanes and hail, unless you choose to waive the coverage. However, if your home is located in the Wind-Pool Area, windstorm coverage may be excluded on your regular policy and you may need to purchase a separate windstorm policy if you want the coverage. Most lenders require windstorm coverage.
Insurance companies are not required to include sinkhole coverage with homeowners’ insurance. Coverage may be offered, but the insurance company may choose to inspect the premises and decline coverage if possible sinkhole activity is found. In some cases, insurance companies may decline sinkhole coverage if the property is within a certain distance of confirmed sinkhole activity.
Most homeowners’ policies don’t include flood damage. However, depending where your home is located, you may qualify for flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. You may also be able to purchase flood insurance through the same company that provides your homeowners’ coverage.
Typically, damage from mold that is a result of an event covered under your homeowners’ policy is covered, although the amount can be limited. For example, a covered event might be a pipe that burst. Most insurers offer limited levels of mold-related coverage in their policies.
Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse
Insurance companies must include “catastrophic ground cover collapse” which includes the following:
The abrupt collapse of the ground cover
A depression in the ground cover clearly visible to the naked eye
Structural damage to the building, including the foundation
Condemnation of the insured property and legal order to vacate
Additional Property Coverage
Home Rental or Dwelling Insurance
If you rent your home to others, insurance companies offer landlord coverage to suit your situation. If you rent a room or a portion of your home, ask your agent what coverage you may need.
Mobile Home Insurance
Mobile home policies may not provide coverage as broad as a homeowners’ policy. There are three settlement options available on a mobile home policy.
A stated amount policy will pay the policy’s face amount in the event of a total loss. This is usually offered for newer-model homes.
An actual cash value policy will pay the amount needed to repair a home after depreciation.
A replacement cost policy will pay for the replacement of a damaged or destroyed home without deducting depreciation.
Condo owners may need two different insurance policies to protect their investment. The first, typically provided by the condominium association, covers the building exterior as well as walkways, lawns, courtyards, parks, and other common grounds. The second insurance policy is purchased by the condo owner, covers insuring interiors walls, flooring, cabinets, appliances, personal property, and personal liability.
Florida Homeowners Insurance Companies
We thought it would be helpful to look at some of the insurance companies in Florida and what they offer.
United Property & Casualty Insurance (UPC)
Founded in 1999, UPC Insurance provides Homeowners, Landlord/Seasonal, Condominium, Renters, Commercial, and Flood Insurance. Florida insurance policies from UPC cover loss of personal property for those living in your home. Their policies are flexible with no coastal or age-of-home restrictions for properties that are older or historic. They even offer golf cart coverage.
Citizens Property Insurance
You may be eligible for coverage with Citizens Property Insurance Corporation if you can’t locate coverage in the voluntary market. The 2002 Florida Legislature merged the Florida Windstorm Underwriting Association and the Florida Residential Property and Casualty Joint Underwriting Association to form Citizens. Policies with Citizens are sold by local insurance agents.
Universal Property & Casualty Insurance
For over 20 years, Universal Property has been a trusted, resilient insurance provider, serving more than 800,000 policyholders today. Their Homeowners policy provides property and personal liability coverages which protect against covered causes of loss such as fire, lightning, vandalism, windstorm and bodily injury or property damage to others.
Tower Hill Insurance Group
As the second largest insurer in Florida, Tower Hill provides some of the most comprehensive coverages for Florida Homeowners in the state. This company actually provides flood insurance, so homeowners aren’t subject to relying on the government program alone. Despite the majority of reviews being favorable for this company, some say they have had issues making claims and were disappointed about customer service after recent hurricanes.
This is one of the largest providers of homeowner insurance in the entire country, so it’s safe to say that State Farm knows a lot about insurance. Out of 5-star ratings among various reviews all over the web, State Farm usually lands in the 4-star category. Their highest ratings come from customer service and satisfaction while their lower scores come from a lack of discounts and challenges during the claims process.
Those who go with this company seem to have an “either-or” experience. The majority of customers give the company solid ratings for customer service and claims, while others have had their share of trouble in both of the same areas. Overall the company gets higher than average ratings among top insurers.
If you’re an active duty or retired military service member in Florida, USAA is definitely worth checking out. Their homeowners insurance coverage includes damaged caused by fire, theft, vandalism, and most weather-related events. They have received top ratings for their claims process but others have made complaints about poor customer service.
Travelers has been one of the nation’s leading and largest property casualty companies for over 160 years. They offer a variety of policy options and packages to help you get the coverage that meets your unique needs. Even so, this company gets regular complaints about service and the cost of their premiums. These are arguably the most significant reasons people buy insurance from a company which may be why their ratings are lower than average.
Homeowners coverage from National General provides options for everything from a wide open Craftsman to a split-level ranch and every style in between. National General also provides coverage to condo owners and renters. However, this organization has unsatisfied customers who are less worried about their premium costs and more concerned about being underinsured or wait unreasonable amounts of time for their claims to be processed.
The Hanover Insurance Group
Hanover offers Platinum Home insurance with three flexible coverage packages, enabling you to select a package that closely matches your particular lifestyle. Each of these options can be further shaped to meet your needs. Yet, the insurer gets low marks in customer satisfaction with not being able to speak with the right person, as well as complaints with delays in claims payments.
Insurance is an integral part of the homeownership experience and finding the right one can really make or break your overall confidence in the insurance industry. We hope this insight into some of the insurers in Florida has given you some ideas as to which companies to research, and which to potentially avoid.