Will Homeowners’ Insurance Cover Wind Damage in Florida?

Homeowners’ insurance policies are designed to protect Florida homeowners from any number of potential incidents, damages, and losses. This typically includes wind damage, as well as any damage caused by wind-driven rain or hail. Of course, note the use of the word “typically” – there are (and will always be) exceptions to this coverage. 

In Florida, no one is safe from windstorm damage. The entire state is highly susceptible to damage from hurricanes, cyclones, and tropical storms. It makes sense for homeowners in the Sunshine State to make sure that they’re protected from any manner of potential windstorm issues. 

The state does not require homeowners’ insurance or any additional coverage for those who own homes in the state. However, most mortgage lenders will require home insurance. Plus, it just makes sense to buy insurance to protect your home from all manner of potential issues. Paying for home insurance is much cheaper than the cost of fixing whatever could go wrong. And even if you have a brand new home, things will eventually go wrong. 

Wind damage is much more common on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts than elsewhere throughout the country. Hurricanes and other storms can cause all kinds of damage to homes, commercial buildings, and other structures. If you are wondering whether you’re protected from wind damage in Florida, you’ll want to look at the details of your insurance policy. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Standard Homeowners Insurance Wind Damage Coverage in Florida

Florida insurance companies offer varying levels of coverage for things like wind damage and storm damage that are included in your standard homeowners’ insurance policy. This gives you the peace of mind that if high winds or a storm cause damage to your home, you’ll be able to get the damage repaired and covered by your insurance. That saves you a fortune in out-of-pocket repair or replacement costs and allows you to get things back to normal sooner than later. That is, of course, as long as your insurance company cooperates. 

Filing an insurance claim can be a daunting task, even for the most informed homeowner. Insurance companies may be willing to help, but only after they look out for themselves first and foremost. The first way they do this is by making sure that certain events aren’t covered without additional policies, such as hurricane and tropical storm damage. 

Another way they protect themselves is by calculating the absolute lowest settlement amount they can offer based on the circumstances of your claim and the coverage in your policy. Usually, they offer it in such a way that unsuspecting homeowners think they have to take the settlement. In fact, you have every right to negotiate with the insurance company if you think their offer is unfair or inaccurate for any reason. 

You can also enlist the help of a Florida public insurance adjuster who can review your coverage and the claim to help you recover the maximum amount for whatever wind damage your home sustained. 

Named Storm Deductibles (AKA “Hurricane Insurance”)

In Florida, many homeowners may be required to have an additional “named storm” deductible, which is coverage specifically related to tropical storms or hurricanes that are named. The idea is that once a storm is escalated to named status, it becomes so severe that it warrants separate coverage. Those without a named storm deductible who try to file a claim for hurricane-related wind damage may quickly find out they aren’t covered and therefore, can’t file a claim. 

The good news is that Florida laws are very clear about when hurricane coverage is applicable and how to properly file a claim. For starters, Florida Statute 627.4025(2)(c) defines a hurricane as any storm system that the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service have declared as a hurricane. 

Coverage includes losses and damages resulting from windstorms during a hurricane in the Sunshine State. It also includes damages to the interior of a property or building that is caused by rain, sleet, hail, dust, or sand that infiltrates the home after a direct windstorm impact damages the building. This coverage is only applicable if there is a named storm, and the duration is as follows:

  • Hurricane coverage begins at the time Florida is put under a watch or warning for a named storm. 
  • Hurricane windstorm coverage ends 72 hours after the last watch or warning issued throughout the state of Florida. 

You can get a full explanation of Florida’s laws and statutes regarding hurricane coverage at the Consumer Services website

Florida Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program

Florida has a program known as the FCHDMP, which is designed to help property owners in the state reduce their risk of wind damage. This can also lower their risk and result in reduced insurance rates, which makes it worth checking into. There are grants available to assist with mitigation efforts like inspections, construction or modification of buildings, and retrofits that help provide better protection from windstorms. 

Wind Mitigation Credits 

Florida also offers homeowners the opportunity to earn wind mitigation credits by adding wind-resistant and hurricane-resistant features to their homes. The credits are used to then give them a discount on their insurance rates. 

To receive these credits, an inspector must come out and check the property to see what changes and upgrades have been made. They will typically look for things like wind-resistant doors and windows, hurricane shutters, wind-rated garage doors, adequate roof coverings, and so forth. The more features you have, the larger credit you will earn. 

The larger your wind mitigation credit, the bigger your insurance discount will be. And, during the inspection, a good inspector might suggest additional upgrades that could result in even more savings. 

How to File a Windstorm Claim in Florida

If your home has sustained damage from high winds of any kind, you need to contact your insurance company and notify them as soon as possible. You also need to make any emergency repairs or put stopgaps in place to prevent further damage. In many cases, if you don’t do this, insurance companies may try to argue about coverage or dispute claims entirely. 

Along with contacting your insurance company to report the claim, you will want to take a look at your insurance policy and check what kind of coverage you have for wind damage. This is also a good time to look for any exclusions or limitations on coverage. You can ask your insurance company about your coverage when you call to report the claim, as well. They should be able to provide you with the details of what your coverage entails. However, it doesn’t hurt to look for yourself if you can. 

It’s also important to document all the damage. This includes taking photos and videos of any damage to the home, damaged property and personal effects, and so forth. You should make a written list of everything affected along with estimated values if you can do so. 

For example, you might be able to estimate that your damaged couch is worth $1,500, but you can’t possibly know how much it will cost to replace the wall that was ripped open by the wind sending a tree into your home. 

The insurance company will send an adjuster to your home to inspect the damage and complete an estimate, which they will then use to determine whether or not to pay your claim and how much to pay. It’s important for you to be diligent in making sure that the adjuster documents all the damage and gets everything accurate in their report so that you have the best chance of getting your claim paid in full. 

Settling Your Wind Damage Claim in Florida

Once all the paperwork has been processed and the insurance company has made a decision, they will contact you, usually by phone. They will explain to you the decision that was made and give you a monetary offer that they claim is “fair and accurate” based on the damage. What they don’t tell you is that this is the lowest “fair and accurate” offer that they can make you. 

Insurance companies are in the business of protection, but they will always protect themselves first. Unfortunately, unprepared homeowners might not realize that this offer isn’t set in stone and take it because they want to “get the whole thing over with.”

You should never take the first settlement that you are offered. You should, at the very least, challenge them to explain what all it is covering and at what cost. If there are discrepancies or specific things missing, you should ask why. If you took the time to get some of your own damage estimates while you were waiting for a decision, now is the time to use those. 

Explain to the insurance company that you know what your claim is worth, and ask them for a higher amount. They will usually decline, but they may make a counteroffer that is more realistic or closer to what you expected. 

You can also choose to hire a public insurance adjuster to review your claim and work to get a better settlement on your behalf. That way, you’ll know you are getting what you deserve, no matter what kind of wind damage you have. A public insurance adjuster can provide an objective perspective to ensure that your outcome is indeed fair and accurate.

The Bottom Line

At On Target Claims, we have an experienced team of public insurance claims adjusters who can review your claim and help guide you through the process. We’ll make sure that you get everything you deserve with your wind damage claim as we have for millions of others across the state. To learn more about public adjusters in Florida or to discuss your wind damage homeowners insurance claim, contact On Target Claims at 954-329-0771.

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