For many Americans, owning a home represents the promise of long-term financial security. In some cases, your mortgage payment may be less than the cost of monthly rent. In addition, home values tend to go up over time, increasing in value above and beyond what you owe the bank. This equity could even be borrowed against down the road if needed. And it could result in a windfall when it comes time to sell.
Meanwhile, your home is also what shelters you from the many hurricanes and tropical storms breezing through Florida as well as provides a safe and comfortable gathering place for you and your loved ones.
General Homeowner Responsibilities
Being a homeowner comes with numerous responsibilities. In addition to paying a mortgage, property taxes, and utility bills, there's also homeowners insurance to consider. The financial institution holding your note will likely require you to buy insurance – and additional flood insurance if you live in a flood zone. But even if your home is paid off, having the right type and amount of homeowners insurance means you won't have to bear the brunt of the high cost of starting over when It'll-never-happen-to-me actually does.
As a Florida homeowner, you're also responsible for the care and upkeep of your new home, as well as preparing it to weather the state’s turbulent hurricane seasons.
Obtain the Right Homeowners Insurance
First things first. You’ll want to take a good look at where your home is located in the state and your own personal circumstances. Discuss all of this with an agent you trust. Your goal should be to achieve a balance between the protections you need and a cost you can afford. Some things to consider and discuss include:
Home Value. How much is your home worth – and how much would it cost to rebuild, if an out-of-control kitchen fire makes it uninhabitable, or if hurricane-force winds take off the roof? Your home’s market value may seem a good starting point, however, you need to consider the cost of materials to rebuild your home. The amount required to rebuild your home, may not be the same amount someone is willing to pay for your home.”
- Your Costs. Which is better for your budget: a higher premium (annual cost) and lower deductible (your portion of repair costs)? Or the reverse? One of the easiest ways to reduce your premium is to increase your deductible.
- Discounts/Credits. You may already qualify for a reduced premium – and not know it! Certain features of your roof, for example, may make you eligible for a discount, including your roof shape and how well it’s secured to the rest of the home. Additional discounts may be applied for storm shutters and a monitored security system.
- Need More? Do you need additional coverage? For example, you may want to increase the limit on your personal property coverage to include expensive jewelry or fine art. Or add an endorsement to your policy to cover a screened enclosure or carport. At Florida Peninsula Insurance Company, we offer additional, affordable coverage for animal liability (dog bites), identity theft protection, major appliance breakdown, and more.
- Consider Flood Insurance. Did you know just 1” of water inside your home could result in $25,000 in damages? And even if you’re in an area with a “low risk” of flooding, those calculations could be wrong, based on new flood risk data. Here’s a video explaining the differences between FEMA and Flood Factor flood maps:
If you’re not familiar with the homeowners insurance process, after you submit an application, your credit history and the claims history associated with the home will likely be reviewed, and a home inspection scheduled. Depending on what is found, additional documentation may be requested, or certain repairs recommended, to help ensure your home is as safe and sturdy as possible and to help qualify you for a better rate.
Keep Your Home Safe & Well-Maintained
As a Florida homeowner, you’ll want to conduct a routine inspection of the inside and outside of your home, at least a few times each year. Check the seal around windows and doors for signs of water intrusion. Look for signs of mold or mildew throughout the home and check for possible leaks under sinks, and toilets. All drains should function properly, without clogs, and rainwater should drain away from the home. Make sure there are no flickering lights in the home and the faceplates at electrical outlets are not warm or hot to the touch.
Perform or arrange for repairs and upkeep as needed. This includes keeping rain gutters clear, having the AC system and dryer vents regularly cleaned, changing air filters, fixing leaks as they occur, and addressing any issues as the result of wear and tear.
Be Ready for Emergencies
Preparing your home for potential emergencies when you’re a Florida homeowner primarily means ensuring it can withstand intense wind, rain, and flooding typically accompanying the 6-month hurricane season lasting from June through November each year. This hurricane preparedness may involve installing permanent hurricane shutters, replacing a garage door with a hurricane-resistant one, and securing any loose shingles on your roof.
But disaster readiness is about more than just hurricanes and tropical storms. It also includes remaining alert to the threat of house fires – there’s one every 89 seconds, according to the National Fire Protection Association. You should have smoke alarms on every level of your home, along with a multipurpose (ABC-rated) fire extinguisher in the kitchen and bedrooms. And don’t forget to remove lint from the dryer filter with each load of laundry you dry.
Get Your Homeowners Insurance from Florida Peninsula Insurance Company
Congratulations on your new home! As a Florida homeowner, make sure you get the comprehensive, practical insurance coverage you need. At Florida Peninsula Insurance Company, we offer competitively priced policies customized to fit your needs and lifestyle. To get started, contact an agent now or get a quote with us online.