How Can I Lower My Homeowners Insurance Rates?

Florida's housing demand surged, hiking property values and insurance rates. To mitigate high rates, focus on windstorm mitigation, especially roof-related improvements.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in March of 2020, the Governor of Florida elected to keep Florida partially open. After a couple of months, the state was opened fully. This attracted new residents from around the country and the entire world. Hundreds of thousands of new residents have flooded into Florida in 2020 and 2021. This has created a significant shortage of housing units. The home builders industry has ramped up to increase the housing supply. However, material shortages resulting from the pandemic have slowed efforts to build enough new units to satisfy the demand. This has created a run on all home prices statewide. Since property insurance rates or premiums are based on the value of the building, insurance rates have risen with property values.

You may be asking yourself, “How can I help mitigate or lower my insurance rates?” Florida insurance companies went to the Florida legislature to approve insurance rate increases by rating all Floridian customers as “high-risk.” The state of Florida approved this increase. However, the Florida legislature made it clear that insurance companies have to give their customers the ability to prove they’re not “high-risk” through a Florida windstorm mitigation affidavit. It is often called the hurricane affidavit or the windstorm affidavit. This affidavit has seven main components or areas which you could prove via an inspection by a professional stating your home can withstand the possibility of a catastrophic loss from something like a hurricane.

Four of the seven areas, or discounts, on the form are directly related to the roof or roofing-related items. Non-related to the roof would be windows, doors, and openings protection. In other words:

  • Do you have hurricane shutters? 
  • Is your garage door and your front door reinforced to hurricane wind codes? 
  • Are you skylights or openings also reinforced to the new code?
  • Is your roof impact-resistant?

Items related to the roof include: 

  1. Is your roof installed to a newer building code (since 2007), and is it modified to withstand winds up to 110 mph? 
  2. Do you have a secondary water barrier? (This material is under the roof system adhered directly to the plywood deck for if the roof was to be damaged or blown off.) There is a leakproof secondary protection to protect the home’s contents from water intrusion and damage. This dramatically reduces the cost of claims because interior damage and mold are actually the most expensive part of your insurance claims. Generally, during significant interior damage, the insurance company has to pay for a secondary residence for the homeowner while interior repairs are being made. This can get very costly.
  3. Do you have roof to wall connections? These connections are where the trusses meet the top of the wall. If the building is concrete, you would have a poured concrete tie beam, and if it was a wood-frame structure, you would have a top header. In the past, home builders in Florida would simply ‘toenail’ fasteners, usually nail through the truss, into the top header. Later on, when concrete became more prevalent, builders understood the value of a stronger attachment in this area and switched to hurricane clips. These are basically a bent piece of metal nailed into the truss and the header or the tie beam.
    Over time, builders realized this twisted piece of metal was too thin and not strong enough to do the necessary job and upgraded this clip to gussets. Gussets are reinforced angle brackets connecting the trust to the header or tie beam. Then the uplift resistance was strengthened by adding a wrap or a strap embedded into the concrete tie beam or attached to the top header. It goes up and over the top of the truss tail and is fastened many times. The fastening pattern is important to qualify for what they call a single wrap enhancement. The code requires 3 nails on one side and 1 nail on the other. Buildings five years old or more may only have two nails because the building code only required two nails back then. So, it may be as easy as just simply adding an extra fastener for you to get a significant discount on your homeowners’ insurance. 
  4. The last level of the roof to the wall is a double wrap. This is used mainly for buildings with high exposure, such as by the ocean, or if it is critical to the emergency infrastructure, such as a fire station or a hospital.

The key to doing these mitigation steps is that any of the steps you invest in today would quickly pay themselves. Some customers received a 75% reduction in insurance premiums by doing some or all of these mitigation efforts.

At Reliant, we can help you achieve almost every one of the discounts offered through the windstorm mitigation affidavit process. We are general contractors and can perform all of the work listed. We have a hurricane shutter division which can cover your existing openings and provide protection without the high cost of replacing all of your doors and windows with impact-rated products. We can enhance the roof-to-wall connection for roofing-related discounts. We can replace the roof and bring it up to the latest code if needed. Get started by contacting us to help you update your roof so you can save money on your homeowners’ insurance policy for this year and years into the future!

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