6 FAQs about Protecting Your Home from Storm Damage in Florida: What You Need to Know about Flood Insurance!
While there are lots of reasons to love the Sunshine State, Florida’s beautiful beaches and warm, tropical climate top the list for many people! Yet those same assets can also be problematic: Florida’s 1,300 miles of gorgeous coastline, average elevation of only 6 feet, and location near the tropics and directly in the path of the westerly winds blowing off the coast of Africa make it uniquely vulnerable to the damaging impact of hurricanes and severe weather. And for homeowners whose homes have been impacted by flooding, storm surge, wind damage, and hurricanes, that vulnerability can create an insurance nightmare.
So how can you ensure that your home will be rebuilt and your personal possessions replaced after a storm? Here are the answers to 6 key FAQs we often get about flood insurance and protecting your home against storm damage
Does homeowners insurance cover water damage?
Most homeowners insurance policies cover some types of water damage, but explicitly do not cover water damage caused by excessive rain, flooding, and storm surge, the most common types of water damage stemming from hurricanes and other storms. For instance, homeowners insurance should cover water damage caused by a broken pipe inside your house or water leakage/seepage unrelated to a storm. It will not cover a weather-related flooding event. For that coverage, you must purchase separate a flood insurance policy.
Am I required to purchase flood insurance?
Florida law does not require anyone to purchase flood insurance. You may be required by your mortgage company to purchase flood insurance, just as most mortgage holders require homeowners insurance, if you are in a high-risk flood zone. However, most insurance experts highly recommend flood insurance for all Florida residents; after all, more than 20% of flood insurance claims every year stem from properties in “low risk” areas.
What is a “Hurricane Deductible”?
All homeowners insurance policies in Florida must include a hurricane deductible of $500, 2%, 5%, or 10% of replacement cost of the dwelling. This deductible is triggered when the damage is caused by a named storm. Unfortunately, even a 2% hurricane deductible can mean huge out-of-pocket expenditures, especially for high value homes. For example, if your home is valued at $1,000,000, you would need to pay $20,000 out-of-pocket for hurricane damage before your homeowners insurance “kicks in”. So it may be worth shopping around to find an insurance provider who offers a smaller deductible: for instance, at Sungate Insurance Agency, we work with A-rated insurance providers offering some policies with a $1,000 deductible for up to $2 million in replacement costs!
What Does Flood Insurance Cover?
Flood insurance is actually composed of two separate yet critical policies, one that covers the structure itself and one that covers the contents of the structure; each policy has a separate deductible (note that this deductible is in addition to the “hurricane deductible” noted above, which is part of your homeowners policy). Building Structure flood insurance covers the property itself, including the foundation, electrical, plumbing, heating, and cooling systems, built-in appliances and permanently installed fixtures. Building Contents flood insurance covers removable items contained within the structure: personal belongings like clothing and electronics, furniture, portable appliances, area rugs, and the content of refrigerators and freezers.
What Does Flood Insurance Cost?
The cost of your specific flood insurance policy will depend on where your home is located, whether it’s your primary residence, secondary residence, or vacation rental home. Generally speaking, highly affordable flood insurance policies are available through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP); coverage through NFIP is usually capped at properties valued at $250,000 or less and exclude coverage for landscaping, decks, and additional living expenses. For those coverages, or for homes valued in excess of $250,000 (and especially high value homes in excess of $750,000), private flood insurance will offer more coverages and higher limits.
With Flood Insurance in addition to Homeowners Insurance, is my home fully protected against hurricane damage?
Just as homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage, your homeowners insurance may also specifically exclude wind damage, especially if you live in a “hurricane-prone” part of the state. A separate windstorm or wind and hail insurance policy can be purchased either as a stand-alone policy, like flood insurance, or as an additional endorsement to your standard homeowners policy. Together, homeowners insurance, flood insurance, and windstorm insurance should provide comprehensive coverage in case your home is damaged in a hurricane.
Understanding how to properly insure your home against natural disasters like hurricanes can be complicated. At Sungate Insurance Agency, we are here to help! As an independent insurance agent, we work with NFIP as well as a variety of A-rated private, high value insurers who offer a range of policies designed to offer full coverage with lower deductibles to ensure that you can rebuild your Florida home quickly and completely after a storm!
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