If you live in an area of the country that experiences annual hurricanes and tropical storms, then you are likely familiar with storm shutters and other storm-resistant products designed to protect your home against damaging winds and rain. Many states require that insurance companies offer a storm shutter home discount if homeowners have taken the necessary cautionary steps to mitigating storm damage.
Between 1994 and 2013, insurance losses for hurricanes and tropical storms were 159.1 billion dollars. Storm shutters help to mitigate these losses. They are coverings for your windows to protect the glass from breaking and rain and debris from flying into your house. If the windows become damaged, it can also alter the air pressure in your home, causing the roof to collapse.
Shutters are typically made of steel, aluminum, or polycarbonate plastic. They can either be directly attached to your home, or mounted via a track. The shutters can either have vertical blinds (accordion shutter), open upwards by a hinge at the top of the window (Bahama shutter), or be attached on either side of the window and closing when needed (Colonial shutter). If you waited until the last moment to attach window coverings before a storm, plywood will suffice. However, this last method usually does not qualify you for a home insurance discount.
Many storm shutters are removable. Once the storm has been forecasted, homeowners can attach the coverings and take other necessary precautions. If you want to have additional layers of protection, you can install hurricane glass to your windows. You can also add braces to your garage door so it doesn’t fly away, ensure that your roof is secure, and remove any tree branches that may hit your home.
Steps to Take
In order to receive a storm shutter home insurance discount, there are several steps that you should follow.
Speak with your insurance agent and conduct your own research about storm shutters and other hurricane-related products. Prices vary depending upon the quality and lifespan of the materials. Purchase storm shutters and have a licensed professional attach them to your home.
Have a home inspector conduct a wind mitigation inspection. This will take about an hour. They will assess your storm shutters, roof, garage door, windows, and other elements. Then, you will receive a form certifying the completed inspection. If you live in Florida, this is called the Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection form. They will verify that you have purchased an approved storm shutter system. Have documentation for your shutters available. Generally, the shutters will come with product information and an approval stamp.
Submit the inspection form to your insurance company. Your insurance agent will then apply the storm shutter discount to your policy resulting in a reduction in premium rates.
Each state with a high likelihood of hurricane-related weather has its own policy for insurance and discount requirements. For example, in Mississippi, the discount can be up to 30 percent for adding hurricane-resistant products to your home. Your local independent insurance agent will be knowledgeable about the state laws, and can recommend the right hurricane protection products for your home.
In 2002, the Florida state government required all insurers to offer a discount to homeowners who complied with storm protection policies. This included storm shutters and other hurricane-resistance measures. In 2007, the government required that the discount rates double as a reaction to increasing premium rates. This was to encourage residents to continue to make improvements to protect their homes against damaging hurricane winds and rain.
Now, insurance companies in Florida are conducting new inspections to verify that homeowners are complying with the requirements. Those that aren’t have received a reduction in discounts and an increate in premium rates. If you live in Florida, you are probably aware of the complaints and problems this has caused. It is best to contact your independent agent to see if your home still qualifies for a discount. So, speak with your agent today!
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