Wind Storm mitigation in the State of Florida
Windstorm mitigation is our best defense against the devastating destruction caused by hurricane force winds. Windstorm mitigation means making your home more resistant to being damaged by high wind speeds caused by hurricanes and tropical storms. In addition to protecting you, your family, your possessions and your home, some of the things you do may lead to reductions in insurance premiums that you pay for the hurricane/wind coverage in your homeowner’s insurance policy. Note that the discount does not apply to the portion of the premium you pay for coverage of all the other perils, such as fire and theft, which are covered under your policy.
Florida law requires all residential property insurance companies to provide hurricane insurance premium discounts for certain fixtures and construction techniques, which have been demonstrated to reduce windstorm losses, including discounts for houses that meet minimum provisions of the Florida Building Code. Houses built after 1994 in Miami-Dade or Broward Counties and houses built after 2002 in the rest of the state have many wind resistive construction features and will likely qualify for credits. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation adopted specific percentages to be used for reducing the premium when a house meets specific standards. Insurance companies may use different percentages only if they can show by use of studies that different percentages are reasonable.
The Office of Insurance Regulation adopted the discounts in Rule 69O-170.017. The Rule also requires insurers to send a Notice of Premium Discounts for Hurricane Loss Mitigation, which contains a list of discounts with exact dollar savings, to all new and renewed policyholders. To qualify for a hurricane premium discount, consumers have to submit a completed Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form. The form must be accepted by all licensed residential property insurance companies in Florida. Consumers can contract with a licensed inspector to examine their home and complete the official form. A list of approved wind inspectors and inspecting firms can be found here.
A Hurricane Retrofit Guide is available from the Florida Division of Emergency Management. This guide is intended to help consumers decide how to protect their homes against the winds and rains of hurricanes. It is also intended to help consumers decide which protection measures are the most important and therefore which measures should be implemented first. While some mitigation retrofits or protective measures can be done by the homeowner, most require the expertise of a handyman or contractor. This guide will help consumers address the need for professional assistance. The guide provides the homeowner with ideas as well as providing people familiar with construction or in the construction business with the technical help they may need to protect your home.
Also available, courtesy of the Division of Emergency Management, is the Florida Wind Insurance Savings Calculator. This online tool provides homeowners and builders with a general indication of the types of wind insurance savings available from Florida insurance companies for building features that reduce damage during high wind events like hurricanes. Building features that reduce wind damage and can lower wind insurance premiums include:
Although the “My Safe Florida Home” program has completed its mission, its website remains up and running. It is a valuable resource. It will walk you through the process for obtaining a wind inspection and a mitigation discount on your hurricane insurance premium. The My Safe Florida Home program exceeded the Legislature’s goals of awarding 35,000 grants and providing more than 400,000 free wind inspections to eligible homeowners.
The Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other property losses by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices. The Institute has outlined the Top Five ways to better protect homes from damaging wind and rain this hurricane season.
1. Shutter all openings.
The most important thing you can do to improve the chance your home will survive a hurricane is to protect all windows and doors. The range of products on the market today means it’s easier to find protection that fits your budget. Whatever you choose, make sure the product has the proper approvals for wind pressure and large-missile impact. If it’s not a permanent product, install permanent fasteners ahead of time so installation is easier when storms threaten. Gable end vents can be shuttered as if they were a window. Garage door companies have bracing systems available for about $400 that should work for most door styles.
2. Secure loose roof shingles.
Keeping shingles attached is critical to protecting your house. If the edge shingles are not well fastened or extend beyond the drip edge more than a 1/4”, high wind can lift them off and create a peeling process or domino effect. If they come up without much effort (older shingles become brittle and may crack when bent too much), secure them with three one-inch dabs of roofing cement under each tab.
3. Seal openings, cracks and holes.
Water can invade homes in a number of ways, especially when it’s being blown horizontally. The problem is compounded if there’s a loss of power and air conditioners or dehumidifiers are unable to dry things out. Fill holes where wires, cables and pipes enter and exit the house and seal around electrical boxes and circuit breaker panels. Seal cracks around wall outlets, dryer vents, bathroom and kitchen vents, and wall lights.
4. Strengthen soffits (the material covering the underside of your roof overhang).
Keeping soffits in place can help keep water out of your house. Some have wood supports but the soffit material is not adequately fastened to the wood or there is no wood backing and the vinyl or aluminum channels are stapled or nailed to the wall. If there are wood supports, secure soffit material with sharp-pointed stainless steel screws. If the channels are just nailed to the wall, you can use polyurethane caulk to seal the channel to the wall and tie the parts together.
5. Survey surroundings and limit potential flying debris.
Limiting possible sources of wind-borne debris before a storm will help protect your home and those around you. Replace gravel/rock landscaping materials with shredded bark. Limit yard objects. Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed. Cut weak branches.
For more information view Five Things You Can Do in the IBHS video gallery, or review the IBHS publication “S Marks the Spot” in English or Spanish.
Additional sources for research and information on mitigation:
Assurance home inspection services, llc serving Fort Myers, Naples , Cape Coral
**For a complete and thorough Wind Mitigation report on your home by a Licensed Florida Home inspector fully trained in Wind mitigation contact Assurance home inspection services, llc at (239)770-3391 email [email protected]