A couple of weeks ago, in Choose Your Hurricane Protection and Installers Wisely, I discussed the importance of proper hurricane preparation and mitigation when choosing window protection and installers. Hurricane window coverings help to protect your property during a hurricane, and can also help protect your wallet during quiet times because many property insurers offer significant discounts for hurricane mitigation.

Florida Statute § 627.711 requires property insurers to clearly identify and explain discounts available on the policies they sell if a property meets hurricane mitigation requirements. Pursuant to the statute, the Florida Financial Services Commission has developed a uniform mitigation inspection form that is used to determine whether a property has been properly mitigated for hurricane losses. To qualify for discounts on property insurance premiums, property owners simply need to have their property inspected by a licensed inspector who will complete the uniform mitigation inspection form and submit it to the property insurer.

To help with the cost of obtaining these property inspections, the State of Florida developed the My Safe Florida Home program. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, this program was abandoned in 2009. Despite the program being discontinued, the State of Florida has left the My Safe Florida Home website up and running, and the site still has a wealth of information for property owners. The site includes videos that help explain general building construction, proper hurricane mitigating construction, and the effects of hurricane force winds on each type of building construction. The site also provides help identifying areas around property that may need reinforcement, some simple steps that property owners can do themselves to help protect their property, and tips for choosing a contractor to help assist with more complex mitigation procedures.

This last item can help avoid problems like the one discussed a couple of weeks ago when a homeowner was left with legal bills after a hurricane shutter installer breached its contract with the homeowner. Some of the advice on choosing the right contractor includes:

  1. Get at least three estimates from different contractors for the same job.
  2. Make sure that the contractor you choose is licensed by the State of Florida or your county government.
  3. Ask your contractor for references, and follow up with those references.
  4. Read your contract very carefully, including warranty information on any products used to strengthen your home.
  5. Make sure that the products used meet code requirements in your area and all appropriate building permits have been pulled.

Following this advice will help you prepare your property to resist hurricane damage, and help ensure that hurricane mitigation work is done right. When the mitigation work is done properly, it may qualify for a discount on your property insurance premiums, so be sure to check your policy or ask your insurance company what mitigation discounts are available.