At Evolve Insurance Agency in South Venice we hear this question come up often. Every Floridian is likely already aware that Hurricane Season begins every year promptly on June 1st and runs thru November 30th, in fact, the World Meteorological Organization will soon consider making this date start weeks earlier due to increased activity earlier in the year. The question is, however, can a Florida homeowner purchase insurance that includes coverage for wind, hurricane and hail in the middle of hurricane season?
The answer – YES YOU CAN! However, with anything insurance related there are always a few caveats.
- First - you cannot typically buy coverage in the immediate wake of an approaching storm – at a certain point, all insurance carriers “shut off” new policy binding when a tropical system reaches a certain strength, and the path has a high potential to head to your area.
- Second – depending on your current insurance situation you may be forced into picking an option that mandates a 30-day waiting period before coverage would apply. This is usually a penalty reserved for someone without current insurance, so, if you currently do not have insurance, you should secure insurance as soon as possible, WELL BEFORE the peak of Hurricane Season. 30 days is a long time to wait for your insurance to become active especially during the peak of season when a new storm can form out of nowhere in a matter of hours.
I personally have witnessed this occur multiple times. I have left work at 5PM with no restrictions imposed on new insurance policy issuing whatsoever and no mention of a tropical system even beginning to form. Overnight a storm took shape in the Gulf of Mexico and before I could get back to work at 8AM the next day virtually all insurance carriers had shut down for new policies.
- Third - The homes condition must be in satisfactory and undamaged condition. No matter what time of year it is, your home must be suitable to insure per your insurance carriers’ guidelines. Most notably, your roof cannot be older than a certain point (based on the type of roof) or show signs of damage or deterioration. Beyond the roof, the A/C, Electrical System (Panel and visible sockets), and visible plumbing lines need to be in working and satisfactory condition without the presence of hazards or leaks. Your carrier may require you to furnish a home inspection BEFORE binding coverage – so if you wait until the last minute, you may find it hard to meet this requirement in time to bind coverage.
TIP: Be there for the inspection! When the inspector is at the home, they can point to issues right away that they know will cause issues with insurance. If they are easy fixes and you are comfortable fixing them yourself, DO IT! Then, take a photo of the repair and any receipts you have for the material used in the repair and your insurer may be able to proceed with those photos showing the hazards were remediated.
When you receive an insurance quote to review for your home, condo, or manufactured home, make your decision as quickly as possible and comply with all requirements needed for issuing the policy as quickly as possible. Simply having a quote in hand does not guarantee coverage and it does not guarantee the ability to bind or purchase coverage. Until your agent or insurer CONFIRMS YOUR POLICY IS BOUND AND IN FORCE AS OF XX/XX/XXXX DATE, DO NOT ASSUME YOUR COVERAGE IS ACTIVE.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):
- Does this apply to homeowners insurance (HO3) as well as condo unit owners insurance (HO6), manufactured home insurance (MHO3), and Dwelling Fire insurance (DP1 and DP3 Rental Home) policies?
YES – the above requirements typically apply to any home, manufactured home (mobile home), or condo owned by an individual. If the home or condo is used as a short-term rental and/or for AirBnB-type transactions then these general descriptions may not apply.
- I’m in the process of purchasing my home and using a lender, do I get any kind of exceptions to this rule because of this?
NO - you do not get any exceptions or special privileges due to being in the middle of closing on a home. Your lender is likely aware of this process and should already know you won’t be able to secure insurance at that time. Your closing process may be delayed until insurance carriers open up their new policy issuance. You should speak with your lender about this process and what your contract may or may not state relating to this.
- I just received my renewal and the price went way up – can I buy new insurance from a new carrier during hurricane season?
YES – As described above, since your insurance is active and has not had a lapse in coverage, you can make a switch anytime (except when a tropical storm is approaching and the carriers have reached their ‘No New Policy’ point).
- If I have a quote for insurance, and I want it, but the carriers have stopped binding policies due to an approaching tropical system, what does this mean for me and my quote?
Well, this means a couple of things. First and foremost, the quote you have is not binding and you likely do not have insurance coverage based on that quote. Second, this doesn’t mean you can’t ever get insurance, it just means you must wait until the storm passes to continue with the purchase. Once a storm passes, insurance companies are typically quick to open up New Policy issuing in areas of the state not severely affected. In areas that are severely affected by the storms path, carriers may wait a few days or weeks to allow new policies be issued, and/or they may require a statement of no damage or some sort of pictures/inspection to verify the home wasn’t damaged by the storm.
- Will I need any type of inspection to secure new homeowners, condo unit owners, or rental home insurance during this time?
Most likely. Depending on the carrier you end up selecting to purchase coverage from, you may need something called a 4 POINT INSPECTION before a carrier will agree to bind coverage. The 4 point inspection cannot be more than 365 days old (1 year) and it must be accompanied with COLOR photos as instructed on the inspection (the inspector should have provided you with these photos). Another type of inspection may be requested so you can lower your premium – this is called a WIND MITIGATION INSPECTION. This is not required to bind coverage, but your rate could lower significantly by providing this when purchasing insurance.
- I’m not in Florida but I want/need insurance, can I purchase insurance for my home without physically being in Florida?
Absolutely – in fact most of our insurance transactions take place fully over phone and/or email. Call our office for a quote on your insurance and everything can be completed start to finish over the phone or via email. If your home needs an inspection someone you trust will need to have access and the ability to let the inspector into the house if necessary, but aside from that everything else can be completed remotely.
If you are a Florida homeowner, condo unit owner, or mobile homeowner concerned about your insurance coverage, the staff at Evolve Insurance Agency in Southwest Florida is here to help! We are here to navigate the insurance waters with you, and when the going gets tough - we get going. We’ll be happy to insure your home no matter what time of year it is, Hurricane Season included!
Evolve Insurance Agency
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