Looking for a great home in Clearwater? If you are moving from another state, one with much higher home prices, Florida real estate seems like a bargain investment. The problem comes in after you buy Florida real estate and try and procure homeowner’s insurance to protect your investment from fires, people hurting themselves in your home or theft.
Its not all Sunshine
Let’s face it, while the Sunshine State has plenty of sunshine, it also has some darker sides to it as well. Things like hurricanes that destroy properties, flooding and sinkholes that pop up all over the place. In fact, a few years in a row of rather destructive hurricanes sent many large insurance companies running. They had large losses paying homeowners for claims from the hurricanes. Then they packed up and left.
Smaller insurance companies
Now there are a number of smaller insurers who do insure in Florida. Premiums are high because of the risk involved. The smaller number of companies, along with a state run insurance program, are the only choices. In this case, competition is not keeping prices down, due to the smaller number of companies. Larger companies, who have brand recognition and the ability to spread the risk nationwide, bailed. They are now only 17% of the market in Florida.
How larger companies do it
Larger insurance companies have the ability to keep prices lower because they can have their customers share some of the risk. After Hurricane Isabel in 2003, many homeowners in areas that were not hit as hard found their insurance rates going up. For example, while parts of Maryland were hit hard, and areas like Baltimore City and Annapolis were badly damaged and flooded, other western counties only had minor wind damage.
However, those western customers had their rates raised the next time they renewed their policies… whether they had a claim or not. It may seem unfair, and it is, but it is one way that bigger insurers stay in higher risk areas and keep premiums for those customers reasonable.
Citzens Insurance Company
If you can’t get private insurance and you have a hard time finding a big carrier to insure your home, you can always check out Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. Citizens was formed in 2002 from the merger of two other entities to provide both windstorm coverage and general property insurance for home-owners who could not obtain insurance elsewhere. It was established by the Florida Legislature in Section 627.351(6) of Florida Statutes as a not-for-profit insurer of last resort, headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida, and quickly became the largest insurer in the state.(1)
So Florida home prices may not be as high as some other places, and you CAN find insurance, but be prepared to have to look around to find coverage.
If you are thinking about buying a waterfront home in the Clearwater FL area and would like to learn more about some of these and other issues, give Deb Ward a call today! 727-410-0336