Buying a Home in the Sunshine State

Moving In You’ve shopped around.
Your next home is just around the corner, you’re certain of it; and whether this is your first or fifth home, it’s an exciting time. In your valiant search for the right number of bedrooms, location, and cost, remember to factor in homeowners insurance as well. A home’s features could directly affect your insurance premium, especially in Florida’s unique landscape.

Location: Not the best kept secret.
If your home is located in an area that is known to have an increased risk, your premium will be higher. Florida residents know this all too well, as Florida has the largest coastline in the continental US and frequent sinkhole activity. Homes in rural areas are also at higher risk. They can be harder to reach in the event of a disaster, tend to have limited fire department protection, and there are no close neighbors to report any problems. Be sure to investigate whether or not the location could be a reason to cost you more and if you’re willing to pay that price.

Masonry or frame?
Masonry construction means the home is built with cement block walls, while frame construction indicates wood. Masonry construction can better protect against hurricanes and offer more savings on your insurance premium when compared to a frame home in the same location.

Who will keep their toothbrush next to the sink?
In other words, who will be living there will determine the policy type you need. Homes that are vacant or being rented out pose different risks than homes which a family lives in and are rated accordingly. If you apply for a standard homeowners policy but the house is actually vacant because it is an investment property, your application will be denied. It is better to find out when you are applying for a policy that you have the wrong one then after. Why? If you have a claim and the insurance company finds out it is the wrong policy type, your claim could be denied.

What is the shape of the roof?
The shape of your roof can increase or decrease your chance of a loss. This has a lot to do with which state you live in and what types of natural disasters are common in the region. In Florida, damage from wind is a large concern. The most common roof shapes are gable, hip, A-frame, mansard, and gambrel. Given Florida’s weather conditions, the shape which provides the most protection is a hip roof. Its shape allows the wind to more easily pass over the roof. Many insurance companies provide a discount for a hip roof.

The story on flood insurance.fishbowl jumping
Due to the state’s coastal and inland geography, floods can pose a serious risk to Florida homeowners. Mortgage lenders may require flood coverage on your new home as a condition of the contract. Flood insurance is not part of your standard homeowner’s insurance policy and must be purchased separately.

Is the home near a fire hydrant and fire station?
The further your home is located from a fire station, the higher your rates will be. Simply put, it would take longer to put out a fire due to location. This is often an issue in rural areas. How far your home is located from a fire hydrant poses the same risk. This can be a problem on larger properties when the home is located far back on the land from the hydrant.

Age is just a number, but an important one when it comes to your home.
Let’s face it; nothing is built to last forever. Older homes are a higher risk, especially if the roof, plumbing or electrical systems have not been updated in the last 20 years. Older homes and the systems in those homes are more likely to result in a loss. Remember your homeowner’s insurance is there for sudden and unexpected losses; it is not a warranty policy. Be proactive with an older home and keep it up to date. Not only will this help you find affordable insurance, it’s much safer for your family.

Pool or trampoline, anyone?
You always wanted a pool when you were young, but who knew it came with so much liability! Your homeowner’s insurance doesn’t just cover your structure, it also provides liability coverage. Homes with pools and trampolines pose a much higher risk in this category. This doesn’t mean you won’t find coverage, it just means you also have to show that you’re taking precautions to prevent any accidents. For instance, most insurance companies will require a secure fence around a pool area to prevent accidental drowning.

Does it have a security system?
According to the National Fire Protection Association, about two-thirds of home fire deaths happen in homes without smoke alarms. An insurance company wants you to have a smoke alarm to protect your home and all the lives inside. It is also a plus if you have a security system in your home. Many companies offer significant discounts to a home with a quality security system.

Contact an American Integrity Insurance agent today if you have any questions about your next home.