Fla. Homeowners Reportedly Unaware of Substantial Hurricane Wind Discounts

May 16, 2005

A Florida statute enacted in 2002 requires all insurance companies to provide discounts on the hurricane wind portion of insurance premiums for wind resistant features found on most homes. However, homeowners are reportedly unaware of the discounts.

“While extensive work went into getting the legislation passed, little is being done to advise consumers of the available discounts,” said William York, director of building evaluations for Applied Research Associates. “The discounts are not just for new homes or homes with shutters.” Homeowners are missing out on wind insurance discounts each year, and York estimates less than 1 percent of all Florida homeowners are receiving proper discounts. That’s about to change.

Senate bill 1486, which is expected to be signed into law by Governor Bush, will require insurance companies to clearly notify policy holders of the availability and amount of premium discounts beginning no later than Oct. 1, 2005.

Applied Research Associates’ IntraRisk division has conducted more than 15,000 wind certification home inspections in Florida. More than 98 percent of homes inspected in 2004 qualified for at least one discount and 60 percent qualified for three or more discounts. The available discounts range up to 42 percent of the hurricane wind portion of insurance premiums.

To receive discounts, insurance companies require documentation be completed by a design professional, building inspector or certified inspector who evaluates the home to determine the presence of wind resistant features. In addition to shutters and impact rated glass, discounts are offered for roof-to-wall connections, roof deck fastening, Florida Building Code equivalent roof covering and hip roof shape.

“Discounts received in the first year often exceed the inspection fee and savings accrue each subsequent year of the policy,” said York. “Homeowners should expect to pay about a $150 inspection fee for a home under 5,000 square feet.”

“The inspection also gives homeowners the opportunity to discover what construction features can be added to their home to keep their property safe during a hurricane or storm,” said Dr. Tim Reinhold, vice president engineering, Institute for Business and Home Safety, a non-profit association that promotes hazard resistant construction.

Applied Research Associates, based in Orlando, Fla., has trained and certified contractors and inspectors throughout the state performing detailed evaluations of buildings for wind mitigation construction features.

Homeowners can visit http://www.intrarisk.com for more information on the wind certification service and discount qualifications. The State of Florida has a Web site at http://www.floridawindincentives.org for consumers to determine the approximate percent of discounts available.

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