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Florida Homeowner's Insurance: Top Ten Ways To Save

May 3, 2008
Homeowner's insurance may soon be increasing for Florida residents--and even more for those living in the southern part of the state. This is the ideal time to check your policy and your home to see if you can cut your costs and make up for the rates hike.

Your Policy

1. One of the simplest ways to decrease your insurance premiums is to increase your deductible. This is true of most types of insurance, but few pay off as much as increasing the deductible on your home. Increase it to $2,500 and you could save hundreds of dollars every year.

2. If you're looking at getting a new policy, ignore the new trend for online insurance shopping. In locations that are subject to special weather conditions, there called hurricanes in Florida, it's always best to shop locally. Work with a local agent who deals with multiple carriers, and you'll benefit by having an agent who does the shopping for you and can help you choose the best deal from among several carriers.

3. Choose an A-rated, admitted carrier. An A-rated carrier is more likely to remain financially stable in tough times, and an admitted carrier has state-approved rates and is covered by Florida's Guarantee Fund. Both of these factors mean more security for your policy.

4. Ask your agent about their carrier's renewal processing process, and find out if they requote the policy each year. Choose an agent that does requote every time renewal comes up to make sure you always have the best coverage at the best price.

Your Home

5. If your Florida home was built before 2002, having it surveyed for wind mitigation factors could save you hundreds of dollars every year. This kind of survey documents design features in your home--such as FBC shingles and reinforced garage doors--that help it resist damage in high winds. In most cases you'll save enough in the first year alone to cover the cost of the survey.

6. Storm damage is a big factor in Florida insurance rates, and one way in which you can keep your rates low is by owning a home with a hip roof rather than a gable roof. This type of roof diverts wind better than a gable roof does, and puts less strain on the house during high winds.

7. Make sure your home is within five miles of a fire station, and within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant. If it's too far away from either of these things, you may have to buy your insurance from Citizens, Florida's state run insurance carrier, and means paying top dollar. As in the case of the hip roof, this tip might not help if you already own a home and plan to stay there long-term. However, if you're looking to relocate it's something to keep in mind.

8. Have your alarm system monitored. Overall you might not save money, but it more or less allows you to improve your home's security for free, or close to it, as the amount you save on your insurance will typically cover the cost of having your alarm monitored.

9. If you have a diving board, a trampoline, or a dog of a dangerous breed, you'll pay dearly for it with your insurance carrier. You may even find that conventional carriers aren't interested in insuring you, and that means getting insurance from Citizens. You may not want to give up a much-loved family pet, but there's no harm in questioning how much you really need a diving board.

10. Owning a property of five or more acres increases your insurance costs. In most cases you'll need to buy a policy from a specialized carrier, which naturally costs more. However, if you don't mind reducing your property a little, you can sell off an acre or two and reduce your premiums at the same time--reduce your land parcel to four acres or less and you'll be able to shop around and reduce your costs.
About the Author
Calum MacKenzie is a Tampa real estate agent with Real Living Southern Homes located Wesley Chapel, Florida. Visit Tampa Homes 24/7 to search the Tampa MLS.
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