Home Owners Insurance
Meeting with a Florida Insurance Agent outlining the details of your home, such as valuables owned and whether or not your home will be used to conduct business are defiantly factors to be considered when determining the amount of home owners insurance coverage needed. Be sure to check with your Tower Hill agent for details on our “Emerald” endorsement, which provides a package of enhancements.
Dwelling coverage (item A on your policy) needs to be sufficient to cover debris removal, the cost to rebuild your home, and expenses to meet current building code. This is not the real estate or tax appraised value of your home. Your Tower Hill agent has access to software that can help determine the correct Coverage A taking into consideration the current building construction materials and labor costs in your area. To be certain you have adequate coverage on your personal property, complete a home inventory using free software such as KnowYourStuff.org or by completing an itemized list such as the Home Inventory Checklist, along with current photos of your items.
Homeowners’ insurance helps pay to repair or rebuild your home and replace personal property due to a covered loss. Florida law does not require homeowners’ insurance, but most people want to insure the largest investment they may ever make – their home. 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.
For mortgaged homes, the lending institution may require insurance coverage on the home, including flood (if located in a special zone), fire, liability, windstorm, etc
Depending on your home and which insurer you choose, you may obtain one of several homeowners’ insurance packages to cover your home and personal property. Each package provides coverage against specified perils or events that cause damage to property, such as fire, windstorm or theft.
Normally, a homeowner’s insurance policy provides coverage for the following: Structure (the dwelling itself) Other structures (sheds and fences) Personal property (contents of the structures) Loss of use (also called Additional Living Expense or ALE)
An insurance agent can help you determine the amount of coverage and options applicable to your individual situation. Please visit The All About The Buyer list of suggested Insurance Companies with whom we have had the pleasure to work and see firsthand how they take care of our mutual clients. For more general information on Florida Home Owners Insurance Click Here to be linked to The Homeowners Tool Kit provided by the Florida Department of Financial Services
Four Point Inspection
Do I need a Four Point Inspection?
Many homeowners wonder why a Four-Point inspection is needed in their home. Most insurance companies require this type of inspection before they will cover a home. This requirement is often imposed on older homes, because the insurance company wants assurance that the home does not have safety and other issues that could result in costly claims such as fire and water leaks. This inspection must be carried out before coverage can begin. If any issues are found, they have to be corrected and another inspection must be carried out.
A Four-Point inspection is one that is carried out to satisfy the insurance requirements when a homeowner is purchasing a homeowner's insurance policy, or renewing their existing policy. This type of inspection covers the four main points of a home. These points are the most common areas that result in an insurance claim and the insurance company wants to be assured that these elements are in sound, working order. This inspection is carried out in a methodical way so as to check the age, parts, and condition of the four areas of the home. An insurance carrier wants to make sure they do not insure a home that has existing damage or is in poor condition. This is not the type of inspection used to purchase a home.
Who can complete the 4-point inspection?
The inspection can be completed by one of the following:
- A Florida licensed general or building contractor .
- A licensed building inspector
- A registered architect
- An engineer in the State of Florida
- A licensed home inspector (such as NACHI or ASHI )
- Roofing - Estimated remaining life, condition, type and damage.
- Electrical - Electrical panel is inspected for brand, wiring types and hazards.
- Heating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) - Visually inspected to determine the age and the condition of the system. Also inspected for hazards.
- Plumbing - The plumbing under sinks visually checked for signs of leaks, material and to estimate the age. The water heater is inspected for age, leaks, and hazards
- Composite shingle roofs cannot be over 15 or 20 years depending on the company.
- Flat roofs cannot be over 15 or 20 years depending on the company.
- Clay or cement tile roofs cannot be over 25 or 30 years depending on the company.
- Metal roofs cannot be over 30 years. Life Expectancy on aged roofs if roof has at least 3 -5 years of remaining useful life.
All properties must be serviced by circuit breakers with a minimum 100 amp service. All electrical components must be in good working order with no hazardous electrical conditions. Unacceptable hazardous electrical conditions include, but are not limited to:
- Fuses ( most companies)
- Knob and tube
- Cloth wiring ( most companies )
- Federal Pacific, Zinsco , Challenger, Sylvania electrical panels (most companies )
- Stab-Lok® circuit breakers ( most companies )
- Single-strand aluminum wiring (aluminum main service wires and heavier 240 colt circuits that feed major appliance is acceptable)
Heating and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
The HVAC Inspection documents the type of heating and cooling system(s), the age of each unit, and the overall condition. The outside unit(s) and inside unit(s) should have the manufacturer’s labels on them including a serial number that reflects the date the units were manufactured.
Problems that could require maintenance or replacement include: exposed or unsafe wiring, units older than 20 years in poor repair, dirty or missing filters needing replacement, improper vent stacks for gas furnaces. Always use a licensed HVAC contractor and require a mechanical permit when servicing or replacing systems to insure they meet the minimum code requirements.
All plumbing must be in good working order with no signs of leaks, deterioration or unrepaired damage. One important note - POLYBUTYLENE PLUMBING IS INELIGIBLE for coverage in most cases ****************************************************************************
Do I need a wind mitigation inspection?
Many property owners receive wind mitigation inspections to assess the preparedness of their homes and businesses in resisting the effects of windstorm damage or loss. So why would someone want to order an extra inspection if it isn’t 100% needed? Because it could save you money!
Here’s a rundown on why - Following an intensely active tropical storm season and resulting all-out battery on the US, a handful of insurance companies not-surprisingly went bankrupt over mounting claim and reparation costs. Officials in states like Florida and Louisiana, hard hit by strong storms like 2004’s Charley and Ivan and 2005’s Katrina and Rita, saw an exodus of insurance companies and homeowners left high and not-so dry. They knew they needed to do something to help property owners and insurance companies alike… FAST.
Their solution: Incentivizing wind mitigation inspections as a means of properly safeguarding properties in targeted areas, in the hopes that insurance companies increase their odds of insuring more secure, less damage-susceptible properties.
In 2006, Florida became the first state in the nation to mandate that insurance companies offer some reduction insurance costs if a wind mitigation inspection is sought and certified upon review by a qualified inspector (usually a board-certified contractor, architect or engineer).
An inspector will evaluate the wind-mitigating characteristics of your home. Post-inspection, that inspector will make recommendations for any improvements or repairs the property owner could make on their home to enhance its sustainability against windstorm damage. He or she then submits a state-standard inspection report to your insurance agency. The report is viewed as a benchmark of your home's ability to withstand storm damage, and an appropriate discount is then applied – in Florida, an average discount of 30% is typical, saving a few hundred to over $1000 annually on your insurance premium.
Florida looks at 8 key categories, described below:
- Roof Covering: inspectors want to know when the roof was installed and does if it meets building codes. In Florida, the code standard was updated in 2001.
- Roof Deck Attachment: inspectors will determine what type of roof decking is used and how it’s attached to the underlying structure, like if it’s nailed or stapled down. If nails are used, nail length and spacing between each will also be noted.
- Roof to Wall Attachment: the roof attachments become the focus here: are trusses attached with nails or hurricane clips? Are the wraps single or double? The more secure your roof, the better impact on your wallet!
- Roof Geometry: is your roof hip or not? Nope, the inspector won’t care how cool it is, just how it’s shaped - a hip roof resembles that of a pyramid, and is a definite qualifier for a discount.
- Gable End Bracing: if the roof is a gable style, an inspector will review if the gable ends are braced to Florida Building Code standards. Gable ends measuring more than 48 inches tall should be braced for reinforcement, and inspectors will be checking for this qualification for discount.
- Wall Construction Type: Inspectors will review the construction materials used on your home for framing, reinforcement, and outer fascia, and at what percentages. Steel reinforced concrete block homes may yield a better discount than one with a plywood-only frame and plastic siding.
- Secondary Water Barrier: This is a newer item for roofs. If your roof was installed or upgraded before 2008, it’s fairly unlikely you’ll have this sort of barrier. As with most newer features, photo documentation, at a minimum, will be required for a discount in this area.
- Opening Protection: Here, inspectors are looking for shutters and installed-protection devices from wind-born debris for doors and windows. They will also be checking the rating of the devices, if you have them (as in- are they hurricane-rated?). 100% of all openings need to be covered with Hurricane rated protection to qualify for this discount.
In the end, investing in a wind mitigation inspection is at your own discretion. The potential cost-savings per year could easily outweigh the cost.