Florida Homeowners Insurance Coverage
2005 marked a record year for hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, with weather reporters resorting to using the Greek Alphabet to come up with names for hurricanes and tropical storms headed towards the United States. Unfortunately a few of these hurricanes, including Dennis, Katrina and Wilma causes major destruction on both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico sides of Florida. Because Florida is right in the midst of hurricane alley for nearly half the year, finding affordable Homeowners insurance coverage is nearly impossible for most homeowners and sustaining and repaying those Homeowners insurance policies is just as impossible for the actual insurance companies. For quite some time, in the 1980s and 1990s, many Florida residences were covered by the state run insurance company, called the Residential Joint Underwriting Association. Only recently have large private Homeowners insurance companies, like Allstate, begun taking on homeowners insurance policies in sections of Florida, along the coastlines and in the southern part of the state, where hurricanes are more likely to occur. Whether going through the state run RJU association or going through a private home insurance agency, there is no question that Homeowners insurance will be extremely expensive anywhere near the coast in Florida.
The same home in Ohio may cost three times less to insure than it would on the coast of Florida, simply because of all the added coverage for hurricane season. Since most basic insurance policies only cover certain natural disasters that could occur anywhere in the country, most often hurricane damage is not included in this policy. For that reason, Florida homeowners have to go about purchasing extra hurricane insurance to make sure their home will be covered in case hit by one of these ocean storms. A law was recently passed in 2005 in Florida that requires plain language on insurance policies so that homeowners can easily understand the terms of their policy without being confused by the heavy jargon. Before this, many Florida homeowners were left to fend for themselves or to apply for Federal or Florida aid because many did not realize that even hurricane insurance often does not include flood damage.
Of course this can be tricky to distinguish and this is where many homeowners found themselves at a loss. Even if the flooding is caused by a storm surge of rising water from the hurricane, this is not covered by the hurricane because it is not considered damage due to the high winds or rain of the storm, but is instead caused by the ocean waters rising. If Florida homeowners are in an area that could be considered a storm surge area, usually even up to 25 feet from the ocean, then they need to consider also including flood insurance as a separate clause to their Homeowners insurance. Be sure to discuss with your insurance agent exactly what types of water damage are covered in the hurricane insurance policy and the flood policy to make sure you are covered from all angles when encountering a hurricane. Currently legislation is in the works that will limit the amount of surcharges that Florida homeowners can be charged to help prevent price gouging because of the area that Floridians live in. If legislation is passed, this will help level out private and public insurance rates for Floridians, making it easier to acquire insurance from year to year even though they live in an extremely high risk area. If you are a new resident of Florida and have moved to the state between the months of June and November, hurricane season, you may not be able to acquire hurricane insurance for the first season, as many insurance companies put a block on new hurricane insurance policies until after hurricane season is over. This is to prevent those who may just acquire the insurance temporarily and then get rid of it after hurricane season is over. Before closing on the home, consider adding the current Homeowners policy into the contract on the home to ensure that you will be covered for the first season. If this is not possible, you may be able to find insurance to cover a hurricane but it could cost a pretty penny.
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