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Residential Insurance in Florida

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation is the regulatory body for home insurance in Florida. Home insurance is a type of residential property insurance policy that provides dwelling coverage. It also pays for personal liability or legal responsibility for any injuries inflicted on others and damage to the property of third parties caused by the property owners or their families. A typical home insurance policy in Florida covers damages caused by riot, fire or smoke, explosion, lightning, theft, hail and windstorm, vandalism, volcanic eruption, commotion, and vehicle or aircraft collisions. However, it does not cover damages caused by earthquakes and floods.

Generally, the types of residential property insurance to purchase depend largely on the type of house you reside in and whether you are a homeowner or renter. For example, if you reside in a condo, you should get condo insurance, not homeowners insurance. Likewise, if you live in a rented apartment, you should get renters insurance, not landlord insurance. However, you should get landlord insurance if you are a homeowner renting your house out to others. In addition, you should get homeowners insurance as soon as you sign a contract to buy a home.

Speak to a Florida-licensed property & casualty (P&C) insurance agent who can help you get the right insurance for your structure. They can help you compare prices from different home insurance companies in Florida and ensure you settle for an affordable homeowners insurance quote that suits your needs. A local agent would also educate you on what your policy includes and excludes so you can get the best coverage for your home if you suffer property damage in Florida. They will also provide answers to your insurance questions.

Why Do we Need Residential Property Insurance in Florida?

As of July 2021, Florida had a resident population of 21,781,128 with more than 10 million housing units. In 2020, about 66.2% of the housing units in Florida were owner-occupied, and 33.8% were available for rent. Some counties in Florida can have very high percentages of their housing units owner-occupied. For instance, Sumter County has up to 88% of its housing units owner-occupied. The county with the highest number of renters is Miami-Dade County which has up to 48% of its housing units as rental homes. These statistics show that, at a minimum, all homeowners and renters in Florida should get homeowners insurance, condo insurance, landlord insurance, or renters insurance to protect their structures and personal belongings from possible loss or damage. It is advisable that Florida residents allocate a percentage of their income to the insurance of their homes. Below are the reasons why residential property insurance is beneficial to both property owners and renters in the state:

  • Liability coverage: It protects homeowners and renters against third-party lawsuits and claims. Residential property insurance provides financial protection against bodily injuries and property damage incurred by guests in the insured's home.

  • Additional living expenses: Residential property insurance provides coverage if an insured needs a temporary residence due to damages to their home

  • Personal belongings coverage: Residential property insurance covers the insured's personal belongings like arts, jewelry, furniture, appliances, and clothes kept in the home.

  • Natural disaster coverage: Residential property insurance covers people's houses from damages resulting from lightning, windstorm or hail, and volcanic eruptions. However, it does not cover damages resulting from floods or earthquakes.

  • Identity theft coverage: Most homeowners insurance policies offer identity theft protection as an options rider, up to the policy limit.

How Does Residential Property Insurance Work in Florida?

The Office of Insurance Regulation regulates and provides oversight for all insurers and other insurance-related entities conducting business in Florida. This regulation is of great importance considering the continuous increase in the number of insurance companies and insurance-based businesses in Florida.

As of 2020, the Insurance Information Institute recorded that Florida had about 111 domestic P&C insurers with about 59 billion written in direct P&C insurance premiums. This amount is higher than that of neighboring states like Georgia and Alabama. Florida accounted for the third-largest amount of the P&C direct premiums written in 2020. Out of all direct premiums written in the state for property and casualty insurance, nearly 19% was written as homeowners coverage. Over $12 billion is spent annually by Florida residents on homeowners insurance costs and flood protection for residential dwellings.

Residential property insurance in Florida is a policy that provides financial coverage to owners or renters of homes and their personal belongings in the event of damage or theft. It also covers persons other than the owners or renters when they are injured on the insured's property. Interested persons can purchase this insurance from local insurance agents and companies licensed by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

When a loss occurs, you have to promptly notify your property & casualty (P&C) insurance agent or insurance company about the loss. As you await a response, you can do the following:

  • Mitigate damages to your property, or protect it from further damage

  • Take an inventory of all damaged personal property, including the date of purchase, quantity, description, value, and the amount paid for each item

  • Get the item's receipts, bills, and other related documents to justify the amounts paid for the property before it got damaged

  • Take photos of the damage before making temporary repairs

  • Make temporary repairs, especially if waiting may cause further damage to your home. Also, keep accurate records and receipts of those repairs

If the insurance claim is a liability issue, ensure you forward all notices, demands, summons, or other process documents relating to the issue to your insurance company immediately upon receipt. Upon notification, your insurance company will respond to your claim in writing, verbally, or in any other form within 14 calendar days. Your insurance company will begin an investigation of your claim within ten working days after receiving the proof of loss statements. You must cooperate with your insurance company in the investigation of the claim. The timeframe for payment of your claim is within 3 months after your insurance company receives notification from you. Contact your Florida-licensed P&C insurance agent if you need more information on how residential property insurance works in Florida.

What are the Types of Residential Insurance in Florida?

Residential insurance protects you against damages to your home and personal belongings due to covered losses. It also protects you financially when accidents happen to third parties in your home or apartment. Additionally, it covers your living expenses when your home becomes uninhabitable due to a covered loss, necessitating that you move to a temporary apartment. There are various types of residential insurance in Florida. The type of policy you need depends on the type of home you reside in and whether you own the property or it is rented. Each policy type protects the insured's home or personal belongings against specified perils or events that cause damage to property under certain conditions. The most common types of residential insurance include:

  • Home insurance

  • Dwelling insurance

  • Condominium insurance

  • Renters/tenant's insurance

  • Landlord insurance

  • Liability coverage insurance

  • Townhouse insurance

  • Mobile home insurance

  • Farm and ranch insurance

Generally, residential insurance coverage types are divided into:

  • Property: It covers damages to property caused by perils like theft, fire, vandalism, and windstorm

  • Liability: It pays for bodily injuries or property damage that the insured or covered family members caused to others

PROPERTY - Residential Insurance in Florida

Residential property insurance in Florida protects an insured property against damages caused by diverse perils like fire, vandalism, theft, and natural disasters (hail and windstorm, volcanic eruption, and lightning). With over 10 million housing units across the state, there is a lot of value to insure.

If the residence is financed, the mortgage lender requires residential insurance. If the home is paid off, it is frequently the single most expensive item a person owns, and it is usually prudent to keep it insured with enough coverage to repair or replace it - if needed.

There are various types of residential insurance in Florida. Each policy type covers the insured's home or personal belongings within the home and protects against the perils listed in the policy document. The type of policy to purchase depends on the type of home and whether you own or rent the property:

Owner

HOMEOWNER Insurance

It protects the insured's property against theft and damage resulting from perils like fire and storm damage. A typical homeowners policy costs between $1,410 and $1,960 per year. You can compare prices from different home insurance companies so you can get a homeowners insurance quote at an affordable price. Most mortgage lenders tend to require homeowners insurance as part of the mortgage terms. There are five types of homeowners insurance policies in Florida:

  • HO-1 (basic form): This type of homeowners policy provides coverage for damages caused by perils like fire or smoke, explosion, lightning, theft, hail and windstorm, riot, volcanic eruption, commotion, vandalism, and collision by vehicle or aircraft.

  • HO-2 (broad form): This type of homeowners insurance policy covers the insured's home and personal belongings. Some HO-2 policies protect against personal liabilities. HO-2 covers the same perils named in HO-1 in addition to the following:

    • Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam

    • Falling items

    • Freezing of household systems like plumbing or HVAC systems

    • Sudden and unexpected damage from an artificially generated electrical current

    • Sudden and unexpected tearing apart, burning, cracking, or bulging of household systems

    • Weight of ice, snow, or sleet

  • HO-3 (special form): Unlike HO-1 and HO-2 policies, which are named-peril policies (only covers perils named in the policy), HO-3 is an open-peril policy that covers any kind of peril except floods and earthquakes. HO-3 policies cover the home, structures attached to it, the insured’s belongings, and liabilities resulting from injuries sustained on the insured’s property.

  • HO-5 (comprehensive form): This kind of homeowners insurance policy offers open peril coverage for the insured's building structure and their personal belongings within the building. HO-5 policies pay the replacement cost of the covered items and have a higher coverage limit for valuables like jewelry. It is more expensive than many other home insurance policies, and not many houses in Florida are eligible for it.

  • HO-8 (older home form): It covers homes that are 40 years old or above. H0-8 policies provide similar coverage as HO-1 in addition to dwelling coverage, liability coverage, personal property coverage, and loss of use caused by named perils in the insured’s policy.

CONDO Insurance

This type of home insurance is commonly referred to as HO-6 policy and “walls-in” coverage in Florida because it provides coverage for the interior of condominiums. On the other hand, common areas like land, hallways, and other shared areas of condominiums are mostly covered by the collective homeowner’s association insurance policy. Typical condo insurance uses a named-peril policy, but some insurers may allow insureds to extend their coverages to open-peril policies, which usually come with higher premiums. HO-6 does not cover damages resulting from floods and car damage (the insured's car is covered by auto insurance). Individuals will have to purchase a separate flood insurance policy to cover flood damages. Condo insurance provides coverage for:

  • Building properties

  • Personal properties such as clothing, furniture, electronics, or jewelry in your Condo

  • Additional living expenses incurred by the insured when the condo becomes uninhabitable due to a covered peril requiring the insured to move to another apartment temporarily

Florida accounts for approximately 1.5 million condo units with nearly 2 million residents.

LANDLORD Insurance

It protects the home, and other structures in the property, like the shed or fence, from damages caused by a covered peril. This insurance covers items used to service a rented property, such as toolboxes and backup generators.

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY Insurance

This type of property insurance is used to provide protection to apartment complexes. It protects business properties from damage and theft of business property. Commercial property insurance does not cover damages from floods or earthquakes. It also excludes thefts by employees and business partners. This is covered by commercial crime insurance.

Florida is home to over 2 million multi-unit residential properties. Nearly 1 million of these properties contain 20 units or more.

Renter

RENTERS Insurance

It is commonly known as HO-4 policy or tenant insurance in Florida. Renters insurance provides coverage for tenant's items and permanent fixtures like cabinets installed in the rented dwellings. Tenants buy renters insurance coverage to protect their belongings from possible damages or loss caused by theft, fire, smoke, water, and vandalism. Average renters’ insurance is inexpensive, and some landlords in Florida may require renters insurance as a leasing condition. Renters insurance covers:

  • Personal property loss due to a covered peril

  • Additional living expenses resulting from loss of use

  • Replacement cost coverage

Apartment complex and condo building owners should consider getting commercial property insurance to secure their properties. This policy protects commercial properties from perils like fire, theft, explosions, burst pipes, storms, and vandalism. Commercial property insurance does not cover damages caused by earthquakes and floods. A separate policy should be purchased if such coverage is required.

Rental units represent 35% of Florida’s residential real estate market.

LIABILITY - Residential Insurance in Florida

Residential liability insurance protects against personal liability claims resulting from injuries and damage to other people or properties. Both property owners and renters need to have liability coverage. For instance, renters liability insurance will not cover owners when they accidentally cause bodily injuries to others and homeowners, or landlord liability insurance will not cover renters when they cause bodily injuries to others. Owners should consider getting homeowners liability insurance, condo liability insurance, and landlord liability insurance, while renters should get renters liability insurance.

  • Homeowners liability coverage: It covers accidental injuries or deaths within the insured’s building for which the insured or covered family members are held legally liable. It also covers damages caused by the insured's pets but does not cover injuries sustained by their pets; that is covered by pet insurance.

  • Condo liability insurance: It covers personal liability, including legal fees or medical bills from claims that may arise from accidentally harming others, damaging their property, or any accident that happens within the condo's walls.

  • Landlord liability insurance: It covers the insured's property from the possible liability claims arising from tenants and their guests. It also covers the legal or medical expenses the tenants or guests might have sustained while on the property.

  • Renter liability insurance: This policy covers individuals renting a property whenever they cause harm to others by accident or negligence.

Homeowners Insurance vs. Condo Insurance: How Are They Different?

The difference between homeowners insurance and condo insurance policies is how insurers handle insuring the home's structure. A typical homeowners insurance policy in Florida covers both the inside and outside structure of the home. In contrast, condo insurance only covers the inside of the individuals' unit(s) and personal belongings. The building itself is insured by the Condo Association’s Master Policy.

How Can I Save on my Residential Property Insurance

Several factors like the age of the home, type of structure, location, and claims history are usually considered when determining the cost of residential property premiums. However, property owners can save money on their policies by doing the following:

  • Shopping around: Get quotes from multiple insurance companies to compare prices and insurance products. Doing this would help you select a good insurance company that offers a fair price and delivers a quality service. You can ask your insurance agent to help you shop around for residential property insurance policies.

  • Higher deductible: Deductible is the amount the insured has to pay out-of-pocket toward a loss before the insurer starts to pay a claim. The higher your deductibles, the more money you can save on your insurance premiums. For instance, individuals can save up to 25 percent if they raise their deductible to $1,000.

  • Improve security: Most times, insurers offer about 5 percent insurance discounts to insureds with smoke detectors, burglar alarms, or dead-bolt locks. Some insurance companies cut 15 or 20 percent off insureds' premiums when they install sophisticated sprinkler systems and fire alarms that ring at the police or fire stations.

  • Multi policy discount: Many insurance companies tend to offer discounts to insureds who buy multiple insurance policies. Check if your home insurance company also sells car insurance or any other coverage you need. By adding more personal property coverage policies you usually get a multi policy discount, which helps you lower the overall annual premiums.

The best way to save on residential insurance in Florida is to contact a knowledgeable state-licensed insurance agent who is experienced in residential coverage and can quote and compare between several different insurers.

How Much Home Insurance Coverage Do I Need?

In 2020, the median value of owner-occupied housing units was $232,000. The price is expected to continue to rise, based on the forecasts of the new unit construction. According to Florida’s Institute for Economic Forecasting, the expected single-family housing starts in Florida during 2023 and 2024 are lower than was seen in 2022. After a 5% dip in newly constructed homes, created by the increase in construction costs during and after the COVID pandemic, the amount of built homes is expected to continue to rise. While the construction catches up with the strong market demand, the cost of existing homes are expected to continue to rise.

How much home insurance you need to purchase depends on the assessed value of the property and your insurance needs for . However, ensure your homeowners insurance coverage is enough to cover the cost of rebuilding your home and replacing your personal property. Also, get homeowners insurance coverage that can cover third-party claims and additional living expenses if your home becomes uninhabitable due to covered perils. Discuss with a Florida-licensed P&C insurance agent. A knowledgeable agent can help you assess your insurance needs, run a homeowners insurance quote, and pick the most optimal and cost-effective coverage.

Can you Over Insure your Residential Property?

Over-insuring a residential property occurs when a property owner purchases insurance coverage that exceeds the property's actual value or replacement cost. For example, getting $400,000 worth of insurance for a property with a market value of $300,000 is considered over-insurance. Your insurance coverage should be able to cover the cost of rebuilding your home from scratch at current construction costs. Getting insurance coverage above that is over-insurance. Always talk to a Florida-licensed home insurance agent if you are confused about how this works. They should be able to help you make the right insurance decisions.

Can you Under Insure a Residential Property?

A residential property can be underinsured, and individuals might be ignorant about this. Underinsurance is when property owners lack sufficient insurance coverage to protect them in the event of damage incurred on the property. This typically leads to property owners paying huge amounts of money from their pockets to repair the damages done to their properties. For example, if the median home value in Florida is about $380,000 and the house is underinsured by 20 percent and costs $440,000 to replace, the property owner will be short by $88,000.

Therefore, individuals should always ensure they have the right amount of coverage. To avoid underinsurance, you may want to insure your home using the rebuild value and not the market, appraised, or assessed value. Make sure your insurance coverage can cover the cost of rebuilding your home. Always review your residential insurance policies frequently (at least annually) to ensure your home is not underinsured. Talk to your Florida-licensed insurance agent to know how much coverage to purchase and how much it would cost to rebuild your property.

Does Residential Property Insurance in Florida Cover Solar Panels?

Yes, it does. Most residential property insurance policies in Florida protect solar panels from perils, including but not limited to wind, hail, lightning, vandalism, fire, etc. Solar panels mounted on the rooftop of a house are usually considered part of the home and would likely fall under the dwelling portion of your home insurance coverage. However, individuals with ground-mounted solar systems and solar panel carpets may need additional coverage because it is not part of an actual dwelling.

Consider speaking with a Florida-licensed P&C insurance agent before installing solar panels in your home or buying a home that has one already. They can help you determine whether you need additional coverage, give you more information on how home insurance policies work when your home has solar panels, and tell you more about possible exclusions that might exist regarding covered perils.

Do Solar Panels Affect House Insurance?

Yes, they do! There is a possibility that your solar panel will increase the price of your home insurance policy. This is because solar panels add value to your home, and insurers calculate premiums based on the home's value.

How Much Does Home Insurance Go Up with Solar?

Home insurance premiums typically increase as insureds add solar panels to their houses and policies. Solar panels can be quite expensive, and the cost of insuring them might increase your coverage limit (the maximum amount that your homeowners insurance company will pay for a covered loss). Generally, an increase in coverage limit leads to an increase in insurance premiums. Hence talk to your insurance agent about coverage limits before adding solar panels to your insurance coverage. This is to ensure that your policy's coverage limit is enough to repair your home and your solar panels in the event of unforeseen events. The increase in the cost of home insurance due to the installation of solar panels on or around the home depends largely on the insurance company and the packages offered. Speak to a Florida-licensed P&C insurance agent who can help you compare prices from multiple home insurance companies to get an affordable home insurance quote that suits your needs.

Does Home Insurance Cover Hail Damage to Solar Panels?

Yes, it does because home insurance covers damages caused by hail. Hence, home insurance covers hail damages caused to solar panels attached to the home, as long as the insurer is aware of the solar panel’s existence. However, it might not cover ground-mounted solar systems and solar panel carports because they are not part of the house. Therefore, individuals need to purchase a separate policy to cover for those. Consult with your P&C insurance agent to see what your options are and whether or not your existing home insurance policy will protect your solar panels. They can also provide answers to your homeowners insurance questions.

Does Residential Property Insurance Cover Leaks?

Yes, residential property insurance covers damage from leaks deemed to be sudden and accidental. Hence if you have a leak in your home, your homeowners, condo, landlord, or renters insurance policy will cover it. Note that your residential property insurance policy will not cover leaks that occur due to wear and tear or a lack of maintenance.

Does Home Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Yes, home insurance covers accidental and sudden water damages, excluding damages that occurred gradually, such as a slow, constant leak and damage due to flooding. Additionally, mold damage due to water damage is covered by home insurance. However, the coverage amount may be limited. All Florida homeowners, condo, renters, and landlord insurance policies cover sudden and accidental water damages.

Does Home Insurance Cover Plumbing Leaks?

Yes, your Florida home insurance policy will cover sudden and unexpected water damage due to a broken pipe or plumbing malfunction. However, this does not include plumbing leaks that occur gradually due to a slow and constant leak. Therefore, you should attend to minor leaks immediately to prevent major damages to your home that you might have to cover out-of-pocket. Speak to a Florida-licensed home insurance agent to review your policy’s coverage and exclusions.

Does Home Insurance Cover Roof Leaks?

Yes, homeowners insurance covers accidental and sudden roof leaks caused by a covered peril like a storm with high winds or hail. This is because most home insurance policies in Florida have open perils coverage, which means unless coverage is specifically excluded, it is included. It is important to note that home insurance does not cover gradual roof leaks or leaks caused by a lack of maintenance. For instance, if a storm occurs in your area and the wind blows some of your roof shingles away, causing rain to leak into your ceiling, your homeowners insurance will cover it. However, if there is a slow leak due to deteriorated or incorrectly installed chimney flashing, your policy will not cover it.

Does Residential Property Insurance Cover Theft?

Yes, most Florida residential property insurance policies provide coverage for theft and theft-related damages. If you are a victim of theft, whether inside or outside your home, condo, or rented apartment, your homeowners, condo, landlord, or renters insurance policy can help you replace your stolen personal possessions. Additionally, your residential property insurance policy can help you to cover repairs to any property damaged by a thief or burglar.

Standard homeowners, condo, landlord, and renters insurance policies cover personal belongings when stolen inside or outside the home. For instance, if you are pick-pocketed in the street, or someone comes into your garage and takes your bike, you would be covered. Note that residential property insurance doesn't cover car theft; that is covered under an auto insurance policy.

Does Residential Property Insurance Cover Mold?

Typically, residential property insurance covers mold resulting from a covered peril like a sudden and accidental water discharge from a burst pipe. However, the coverage amount may be limited. Most insurance companies limit mold-related coverage in Florida to about $10,000. For example, the cost of testing and mitigation is limited. The insured is at liberty to purchase higher coverage limits of mold coverage for an additional premium. In contrast, some other insurance companies can exclude coverage for mold-related claims altogether. Speak with a property insurance agent for more details.

Does Home Insurance Cover Foundation?

Most home insurance policies in Florida cover foundation damages caused by covered peril like fire, volcanic eruption, explosions, and accidental or sudden water damage. However, foundation damages caused by earthquakes and floods are excluded from home insurance policies. Also, damages to the foundation caused by the faulty foundation or shifting soil are excluded. Always review your policy to understand precisely when you are covered and when you are not. You can speak to a local home insurance agent in Florida if you need more information on your home insurance coverage.

Does Home Insurance Cover Natural Disasters?

Florida is prone to many natural disasters like floods, storms, hurricanes, tropical depressions, tornadoes, and wildfires. For instance, about 25% of flooding is currently expanding past the earlier designated flood zones, and you need to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your business. Additionally, about 2,262 wildfires were recorded in Florida in 2021. As of 2021, about 32 tornadoes were recorded in Florida. Florida was ranked 16th in the country because of the number of tornadoes the state experienced. Hence, there is a great need for Floridians to have insurance policies that cover the prevalent natural disasters in their localities. Below are different types of home insurance policies that cover damages resulting from natural disasters in Florida:

  • Home insurance: It covers natural disasters like fire, lightning, windstorm or hail, and volcanic eruptions. Home insurance policies do not cover damage caused by floods or earthquakes. Individuals would need a separate policy for damages caused by floods or earthquakes.

  • Renters insurance: Most renters insurance policies in Florida cover damages resulting from natural disasters like fire, lightning, windstorm or hail, and volcanic eruption, excluding flooding and earthquakes.

  • Condo insurance: Most condo insurance policies cover losses arising from fire, lightning, windstorm or hail, and volcanic eruption. However, like other kinds of home insurance, HO-6 usually does not cover flooding. Interested persons will have to purchase a flood insurance policy to cover flood damages.

  • Landlord insurance: Landlord insurance typically provides coverage for a rental home from damages caused by natural disasters, excluding damages resulting from floods and earthquakes

  • Commercial property insurance: It covers larger rental property (typically multi-unit buildings and apartment complexes) and damages from some natural disasters.

In Florida, earthquakes, sinkholes, and landslides are considered “ground movements'' and are usually excluded from residential property coverage. Discuss with a Florida-licensed insurance agent for more information regarding the home insurance policy coverage. A knowledgeable Florida-licensed insurance agent would help you review your current residential property policy and help identify areas where you may need to purchase separate coverage or adjust your current coverage options. Additionally, you should do your due diligence to verify the license of your intended insurance agent or company by utilizing the Licensee Search portal on the Florida Department of Financial Services website.

FLOOD INSURANCE

Florida is highly susceptible to floods because it is surrounded by two major bodies of water and more than 1,700 lakes, rivers, and streams across its 67 counties. Floods are typically common in cities like Cape Coral, Tampa, Jacksonville, Lehigh Acres, Fort Lauderdale, and St. Petersburg. Flood coverages are not included in a typical homeowner’s policy, so they must be purchased separately. Hence, individuals need Flood insurance to cover damages to properties resulting from flooding. You can purchase flood insurance as an add-on to your existing residential property insurance policy like homeowners, renters, landlord, or condo insurance policy.

Floridians can purchase flood insurance policies through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for about $500 - $700 per year. Although flooding is very common in Florida, only 35% of properties in high-risk flood zone communities are covered by flood insurance policies issued by the NFIP in 2020. About 4,600 policyholders filed flood claims in Florida after Hurricane Sally, and 30% of the claims were for structures located in low-risk areas. Hence the need for flood insurance in high-risk flood zones. It is important to note that individuals cannot purchase flood insurance directly from the NFIP. It can only be purchased through a state-licensed property and casualty insurance agent, “Write Your Own” (WYO) insurance companies, or from the private market through admitted and surplus lines carriers. Flood insurance is only available to individuals living in one of Florida's 23,000 participating NFIP communities. In 2020, there were approximately 1.7 million Florida NFIP policyholders with more than $441 billion in total coverage. Most flood insurance policies in Florida cover:

  • The physical structure of the home and its foundation

  • Detached structures like garages

  • Essential systems in the home like plumbing and electronic systems, water heaters, and central air conditioners

  • Personal belongings like furniture, clothing, portable appliances, electronics, and valuables like art

Flood insurance issued by NFIP excludes the following:

  • Personal automobiles damaged by flood damage. This is covered by comprehensive automobile insurance

  • Belongings and properties outside of the insured building

  • Precious metals, currency, and valuable documents

  • Financial losses due to loss of use of insured property or business interruption

  • Additional living expenses like temporary housing

Flood insurance is good for individuals whose homes and businesses are located in flood-risk areas. These persons can search the address of their residential or commercial properties in the FEMA Flood Map Service Center to determine whether they are located in flood zones.

TORNADO INSURANCE

Typical residential property insurance in Florida covers damage to your property and personal belongings caused by wind, rain, and fallen trees during a tornado. Also, if a tornado displaces you from your home and you have to get a temporary place to live, your residential property insurance will cover your additional living expenses. Hence, you do not need separate tornado insurance coverage if you already have a residential property insurance policy. However, damages from flooding that occurs during a tornado would not be covered by your residential property insurance policy. Floridians living around the coast between Tampa and Fort Myers and the western panhandle are typically prone to tornadoes. They will need to buy flood insurance in addition to their standard homeowners insurance policy to be fully protected from losses caused by flood damage.

HURRICANE INSURANCE

Generally, there is no such thing as hurricane insurance in Florida or a specific policy that Floridians can purchase to protect against hurricanes. Most home insurance policies in Florida include windstorm coverage that covers hurricanes, except if the home is located in coastal areas of the state like the cities of Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville. Property owners in such areas who have difficulty obtaining homeowners insurance, condo, landlord, or renters coverage that provides hurricane coverage can check with the Florida Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corporation provides property insurance protection to Floridians who cannot obtain coverage through the private market. Standard windstorm coverage includes:

  • Physical damage to residential or commercial properties like roofs, windows, or walls

  • Personal belongings inside the home

  • Food loss due to power outage caused by hurricane

  • Additional living expenses if you have to get a temporary place to live while your house is under repairs

  • Detached structures like sheds, fences, and garages

Windstorm coverage does not include medical bills of injured persons, water damage, replacing or repairing a car damaged by moving debris, or a wind-toppled tree. Individuals would have to get extra coverage to cover those events.

EARTHQUAKE INSURANCE

Although earthquakes are not common in Florida, individuals living in areas with histories of earthquakes should consider purchasing earthquake insurance. Earthquake insurance covers properties damaged by earthquakes, and this is not included in most homeowners, condos, landlords, and renters insurance policies. Individuals who live in high-risk areas would have to get a separate policy to cover damages resulting from earthquakes. They can purchase it as an add-on to existing policies like homeowners, renters, landlords, and condo insurance policies. Typically, the average cost of earthquake insurance is about $500 - $1,200 per year. Earthquake insurance covers:

  • Repairs needed after earthquake damages have occurred like the shaking and cracking in the dwelling and unattached structures like garages

  • Earthquake-incurred damage to personal properties

  • Cost of stabilizing the land under your home

  • Additional living expenses if the insureds have to temporarily relocate while their homes are being rebuilt or repaired

  • Cost of removing debris

Earthquake insurance does not cover water damage, fire damage, sinkholes, and damage to cars. These damages are covered under flood, homeowners, sinkhole, and automobile insurance policies, respectively. Some earthquake insurance policies exclude damages to pools, fences, and land (like landscaping).

Floridians can check the Florida Division of Emergency Management website for updates regarding natural disasters and to know whether they reside in high-risk areas. They can also discuss earthquake coverage with a Florida-licensed insurance agent who can provide the necessary information regarding natural disasters in their communities.

SINKHOLE INSURANCE

Florida sinkhole insurance helps to cover sinkhole damages to properties and personal belongings. Although it is mandatory for Florida insurance companies to provide homeowners insurance policies that cover “catastrophic ground cover collapse,” not all of them provide coverage for sinkholes. Hence, you have to purchase sinkhole insurance coverage as an add-on to your existing homeowners policy. A typical sinkhole insurance policy costs about $1,500 - $4,000 per year.

Florida sinkhole insurance covers repairing or rebuilding homes or business buildings damaged by sinkholes. It also covers personal belongings and other structures on the building, depending on the policy’s coverage scope. Sinkhole insurance does not cover the following:

  • Damage to cars

  • Water damage

  • Damages from mine subsidence.

It is important to carefully review your policy to see if you need additional insurance. Individuals who own properties or have businesses in Florida’s Sinkhole Alley (Pasco County, Hernando County, and Hillsborough Counties) should consider purchasing sinkhole insurance. Discuss with a local licensed property insurance professional who can provide answers to your sinkhole insurance questions. Also, buying sinkhole insurance from your homeowners insurance company can help you get a multi-policy discount.

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