5 Tips to Lower the Cost of Homeowners Insurance in Condos
Most of us who live in South Florida know that Homeowner’s Insurance is a significant but indispensable investment to protect our homes from the ever-increasing threats of devastating hurricanes and flooding due to sea level rise. But when it was time to renew the policy for my property on Brickell I almost fell off of the chair when I saw that my premium was quoted 40% higher than last year, for the exact same coverage, and the exact same deductible.
Of course I wasn’t having that, and ultimately I was able to get another company to write my policy at a figure similar to what I had paid last year (for the same coverage and the same deductible). In the process I learned a lot about how to reduce insurance costs, so here’s my list (you can thank me later!).
1. Always compare your new annual premium with the prior year. If you see your insurance costs increase significantly (more than 10%), call your agent immediately to get quotes from other companies.
Why? Because every year insurance companies re-assess their risk to determine what regions they insure, what regions they walk away from, and in what regions they limit the number of policies. It’s all about mitigating their risk and losses.
Lots of factors come into play, including whether there were any major storms or floods in your area in the las 24 months – since storm claims can be submitted up to 3 years after the event. In our case in South Florida, hurricane Irma flooded a significant part of Brickell and the Grove. Therefore, my (now ex) insurer stopped accepting new policies, and jacked up the prices on existing clients like me.
2. If you live in a building that was built after 2002, make sure you are getting an Opening Protection Credit. Building codes changed at that time, and all new construction was required to install impact glass on all exterior openings.
3. If you live in a building built before 2002, and you have hurricane shutters, get a Wind Mitigation Inspection so that you can also get the Opening Protection Credit. The inspection costs around $100.00. Had I passed the inspection I would have gotten a $400.00 credit. But, I have a kitchen window that my condo association needs to replace to bring it up to code (shutters are prohibited on that window), so I can’t get the credit it until that’s addressed. But if all of your exterior openings have shutters, you are entitled to a reduction in your premium.
4. If your building has a centralized fire and burglar alarm system, or if you live in a closed community with a gatehouse and 24 hour security guards, make sure your agent knows and gets you additional credits. Your building management can get you the appropriate certification letters the insurance carrier will require.
5. Insurance companies that work with high value properties ($1,000,000 and up) may also provide credits for leak detection or surveillance systems, which these days are inexpensive, easy to install and can save you money and headaches.
You absolutely need to have the right coverage (belongings, liability, wind, AND flood), because there WILL be a storm affecting you, the only question is WHEN. But if you do your homework you can take advantage of significant credits and discounts available to you and lower your costs substantially.
For more information on to how to select the right coverage and other cost saving tips, here’s a great article from the Insurance Information Institute.
In case you were wondering how much I saved, I was already taking advantage of some of the credits, but just by switching carriers my bill was reduced by around $1,000. ☺️
When it was time to renew my policy I almost fell off of the chair when I saw that my premium was 40% higher than last year. Ultimately I was able to get another company to write my policy at a figure similar to what I had paid last year (for the same coverage and the same deductible)