Hurricanes hit Florida often. Be prepared.

Florida is popularly known as the “Sunshine State.” But extreme weather, including lightning strikes, plenty of afternoon thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes, is common along its lengthy coastlines as well as further inland. Home insurance is a crucial purchase for Florida homeowners who want to enjoy the sunshine while protecting their dwellings against the elements.

How Much Does Florida Home Insurance Cost?

In 2010, according to the Insurance Information Institute, the average annual premium for homeowners insurance in Florida was $1,544. Premium costs will vary depending on a home’s age, condition, its construction materials, and location. Older homes may be more expensive to insure, and some companies may not insure a house in poor condition.

Many homeowners are paying a premium that is much higher than the average policy cost in Florida. To make sure you are getting a good deal, compare rate quotes from a number of different agencies for identical levels of coverage. You may want to start by comparing quotes online or by consulting a reliable list of Florida providers. One such list is the top 20 personal residential insurance writers in Florida which is found in the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s Fast Facts.

What Does It Cover?

According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, a standard homeowner’s insurance policy in Florida covers your dwelling and other structures, such as a detached garage or tool shed, personal property, loss of use, additional living expenses, medical payments to others, and any additional coverage you may choose. Home insurance helps protect against financial loss in the event a home or its contents are damaged or destroyed by fire, severe storms, theft, or vandalism. Liability coverage, which provides coverage if someone is injured on your property and you or someone in your household is found legally responsible, may not be included in a standard home insurance policy, so check with your agent to be sure you are fully covered.

Do I Have to Get Home Insurance in Florida?

Home insurance is not required by law in Florida. But buying insurance can help protect your house and property against damage from unforeseen circumstances, and liability for accidents that injure other people or damage their property.

Optional Coverage to Consider

  • Flood. Standard homeowner’s insurance policies in Florida do not cover flood damage. In general, your mortgage lender will not require you to purchase flood insurance unless you live in an area that is at high risk of floods, but living outside a flood plain does not mean you are not at risk for flooding. Florida homeowners in participating communities can purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which offers policies through local insurance companies. A few private insurers unaffiliated with the NFIP specialize in offering flood insurance as well.
  • Fire and Lightning. Fire and lightning are covered perils included in most homeowner’s insurance policies. Even so, it’s smart to read over your policy carefully to ensure that these perils are not excluded for any reason. Wildfires are a particular threat in Florida and can occur at any time of year. In the summer of 2011, CNN reported that dry conditions spurred at least 384 wildfires throughout Florida.
  • Hazard. The terms hazard insurance and homeowner’s insurance are often used interchangeably. The amount of home hazard insurance required to satisfy your lender may not be enough to pay for your losses in the event that your home is a total loss. Consider the possibility of purchasing replacement cost coverage on your home rather than coverage at actual cash value. Otherwise, you might find yourself in the hole for the amount it costs to replace your home that is not covered by your insurance.
  • Windstorm. In many other U.S. states, windstorm and hail coverage is built right in to most homeowner’s insurance policies as a covered peril. But in Florida, where certain areas are at high risk for damage from hurricanes and tropical storms, this important coverage may be excluded. Florida homeowners in certain high risk areas who cannot obtain windstorm coverage through private insurers can purchase such coverage through Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, a state-run insurance company that provides policies for homes, mobile homes, apartments, condos, and businesses that would not otherwise receive coverage.
  • Scheduled Personal Property Endorsement. If you have certain valuables that require broader coverage than the rest of your property, you may want to consider a scheduled personal property endorsement, or personal article floater. This coverage lists possessions like jewelry, rare coins and stamps, antiques, computers, firearms, and high-value equipment and covers them beyond what would have been covered in a standard homeowner’s policy.

Mobile Home Insurance in Florida

Mobile home insurance companies in Florida write policies that are designed to meet the specific needs of mobile home owners. Mobile policies are similar to homeowner’s insurance policies in that they often include dwelling coverage, personal property coverage, loss of use, liability, and guest medical protection. However, Florida mobile insurance takes into account the different, and often greater, risks that mobile homes face from perils like windstorms and tornadoes.

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