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Homeowners Insurance

Top 10 Things Florida Homeowners Should Know

Living in Florida is truly unique. You can’t beat the tropical climate, abundant wildlife, access to nature, as well as loads of activities for visitors and locals alike, No wonder so many of us call Florida home.

Getting the right type of homeowners insurance is key to protecting your place in paradise. At The Windward Insurance Agency, we’ve built our reputation on becoming the go-to source for Florida residents looking for home, condo, flood, boat, or auto insurance – and so much more. Read on for the top 10 things Florida homeowners should consider when purchasing insurance.

1. Hurricanes Are a Real, Recurring Threat

Florida is especially vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms due to its extensive coastline, low elevation, relatively flat terrain and, of course, it’s location between the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, since 1850, hurricanes have impacted every inch of Florida’s coastline. So, while no area of Florida is immune from the threat of hurricanes, the good news is most typical Florida homeowner policies cover hurricane damage, such as losses due to severe winds, tornadoes, falling trees, and roof leaks. A hurricane deductible applies to these types of damages, but it is typically only imposed once in a calendar year, no matter how many hurricanes blow through.

2. Roof Characteristics Matter

Go ahead, ask your favorite engineer, they’ll tell you what builders and contractors (and insurance reps) can confirm: certain features of your roof may make it stronger – or weaker – in the face of a hurricane. This includes:

Roof shape – A downward slope on all four sides, usually called a hip roof, stands up best to high-velocity winds. Homes with just two sloping sides (i.e., a gable roof) can be fortified with bracing.

Roof covering – Metal roofing or impact-resistant shingles are better at preventing leaks during storms than ordinary shingles or clay tiles.

How your roof is secured to the home – Hurricane straps are a must-have. They connect the framework (truss) of your roof to the walls of your home. The flat surface between the truss and shingles/tiles is called a roof deck – and it requires certain types of nails with tight nail spacing to better withstand wind uplift during a storm.

Some of these features may entitle you to a discount on your Florida homeowners insurance premium. The first step is to have a wind mitigation inspection by a qualified inspector. The My Safe Florida Home program is currently offering free inspections of single-family homes and townhouses.

3. Flood Insurance: Always Sold Separately

Flood insurance isn’t automatically included in standard Florida homeowner policies. This doesn’t mean you can’t add it – but it will increase your insurance costs. Flooding regularly occurs throughout the state, and not just in flood zones. Storm surges, excessive rainfall, even drainage problems (at the home, street, or canal level) can all quickly lead to rising water, which may damage your home and property. Flood insurance covers instances of rising water only, not water damage caused by, say, a sudden and accidental burst pipe in the home or a roof leak.  

4. 'Replacement Cost' the Preferred Option

Policyholders can choose either replacement cost or actual cash value when finalizing their insurance coverage. The main difference between the two is you are made whole with replacement cost, whereas actual cash value subtracts depreciation from the payout amount, based on things like property age or wear and tear. Market value is another term used a lot when discussing property, although this amount is subject to market fluctuations, such as supply and demand, and thus, is not quite the same as either actual cash value or replacement cost.  

5. Insurance Fraud Is Huge

Insurance fraud is among the most common types of criminal fraud in Florida. Examples include when policyholders or contractors doing the repair work make fake or exaggerated claims to an insurer, such as lying about the cause of water damage in the home to ensure coverage. Committing insurance fraud can lead to severe penalties, including prison and fines – and it contributes to higher insurance costs for everyone. If you suspect fraud, call the state’s Insurance Fraud Hotline at (800) 378-0445 or visit

6. Every Florida Homeowners Policy Is Different

Most insurance policies can be customized to fit a homeowner’s specific circumstances. Make sure your policy works best for you and your family – and be familiar with what’s in it. This includes your deductible amounts, coverage limits, and whether you might need supplemental insurance (e.g., pet liability, sinkhole coverage, identity theft protection, and more).

7. Home Security Systems Are a Win-Win

Monitored security systems can reduce the risk of theft, vandalism, breaking and entering, and more. The presence of a home security system can alert you when something out of the ordinary is going on – as well as deter potential crimes from happening in the first place. Many insurers will offer a discount or reduced premium to policyholders with a monitored security system.

8. Sinkholes: Surprisingly Common in Florida

Just under a surface layer of loose rocks and soil, much of the state sits on a soluble bedrock of limestone. Over time, portions of this limestone may dissolve by naturally acidic rainwater, creating underground cavities. When the ground’s surface layer collapses into the cavity below, it is known as a Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse. Depending on the geological features of your neighborhood, it could be a good idea to add sinkhole coverage to your Florida homeowners policy. Note this typically involves a separate deductible and possible inspection.

9. The Pros & Cons of Condo Living

Condo living promises the best of all worlds: often with a great view and all the amenities you could want without any outside upkeep (no lawn to mow or pool to maintain). On the other hand, despite the condo being required to carry its own master insurance policy, it does not cover property inside individual units. To protect all you own, as a condo owner, you’ll want to purchase condo insurance.  

10. Home-Damaging Pests Thrive in a Warm Climate

Termites, rodents, carpenter ants, and other pests can cause significant structural damage to your home. Termites and carpenter ants, for example, can weaken wood beams, flooring, and walls. Rodents and wildlife like raccoons and squirrels may tear up insulation, block vents, and gnaw on almost anything, including electrical wires, posing a fire risk. Damage from these critters is not typically covered.  Consider speaking to an extermination company in your area to take preventive measures.

Get the Florida Homeowners Insurance You Need

At The Windward Insurance Agency, we offer comprehensive and flexible insurance packages and options, so you can get just what you need, based on your budget and situation. Get started with an online quote or call us today at (866) 231-2433 for assistance.