Florida Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance – often dubbed 'home insurance' or 'house insurance' by insurance brokers and major providers – is an essential purchase for most American professionals. Designed to bring financial security and comfort to an otherwise daunting and alarming situation, it can help provide new possessions, expedited repairs, or even a new home in the event of an emergency or disaster.

Within Florida, several forms of homeowners insurance are available. The first is house insurance – a fairly Spartan insurance policy designed to cover a home's structure during times of unintentional or otherwise uncontrollable destruction. This insurance provides financial reimbursement for homes that have been burned down, destroyed in an earthquake, or otherwise made uninhabitable.

The second form of homeowners insurance in Florida is house and contents insurance – a complete insurance package that offers protection for both a home's structure and function, its owner's major possessions and personal effects, and in certain occasions, its suitability as an investment or rented property. Note that the final coverage type – for rental properties – isn't always part of a policy.

While these two forms of homeowners insurance can sound daunting and confusing, they're really a fairly simple purchase for most people. Homeowners insurance in Florida can be purchased from an extensive variety of providers, keeping costs down and selection high. If you're having trouble with picking a home insurance plan, consider these seven helpful tips, tactics, and purchasing strategies.

Only insure high-value items
Adding small items to a homeowners insurance policy is a tiresome and fairly dull process. Not all items end up being accounted for in the event of an emergency, with some failing to even appear on the claims sheet after a break-in or disastrous fire. Consider the value of that cushion or accessory – is it really the type of thing you want to claim after a potential disaster or home burglary?

Chances are fairly good that your home has more inside its cupboards, chambers, and other storage areas than you're ever going to use, and perhaps even more than you're ever going to miss. Take the time to insure all of your high-value items and valuable possessions, but don't be too worried if you miss out on insuring a small book collection, cheap accessory, or minor personal possession.

Insure both your home and its contents
There's nothing smart about only partially insuring your home. While structural insurance is quite a popular purchase amongst those with limited personal effects, it's a poor choice for families and any other homeowners that have a reasonable amount of possessions. From heirlooms to electronics, it's fairly likely that you're going to need to replace your own belongings after a disaster or break-in.

Invest in a home and contents insurance policy so that you know your house, your belongings, and your access to a living space are all covered. Most home and contents policies will cover the cost of living in a hotel or other third-party area while your home is being repaired – something that a great deal of skeleton-style structure-only insurance policies fail to provide coverage for.

Search both Florida-based and nationwide insurers
Florida has its own selection of state and region-based insurers, many of whom are able to provide a custom deal that's much more lucrative than its nationwide alternative. However, not all of Florida's insurance companies can do so. Some offer service that's fairly poor, coverage that's suspect and a little bit shady, and even financial backing that's unlikely to withstand a surge in personal claims.

While it's unwise to write off state-based insurers or nationwide insurers purely on their structure and headquarters location, it is smart to research before investing in a particular insurer. Check on the financial history of an insurance company, its records of paying out on time, and opinions from past customers, previous claimants, and long-term clients of the insurance company itself.

Keep an up-to-date record of your home and contents
If you live in a major metropolitan area such as Miami or Orlando, it's important that you keep an up-to-date inventory of your home's possessions. Florida's major urban areas, despite the efforts of police and brave volunteers, are still quite high on the nation's crime scales. As such, burglaries and other non-violent crimes are common, particularly in inner city neighborhoods and areas.

Every six months, take a 'video inventory' or photo-based scan of your home's major storage areas and hideaway cupboards. In doing so, you'll create an archive of your home's contents that insurers can access after a robbery or break in. While this may sound simple, it can often result in a sizable payout increase from your insurance company in the event of a robbery or natural disaster.

Check your area for risk factors and disaster signs
Unfortunately, Florida is one of the United States' most disaster prone regions. From hurricanes to tsunamis, the vast majority of natural disaster that shake the United States tend to be centered near the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico coastline. For Florida residents, this is reflected in heightened rates for disaster insurance, greater monthly payments, and an occasional surge in insurance claims.

If you want to keep your monthly insurance payments down, check for high-risk signs before you purchase a new home or condominium. While it's very tempting to purchase a new home beside a major beach or bay area, doing so could put you in a tsunami or hurricane zone. Whenever you're investing in property, check that it's not located in an extreme weather or recurring disaster area.

Consider installing sprinklers or reinforcing materials
Did you know that a home located next to a police station, fire station, or hospital is generally less expensive to insure than its counterpart five blocks away? Insurance companies don't just look for structural signs when assessing a home – they look at its convenience for rescue workers, its safety levels, and the likelihood that it could be targeted by thieves or local vandals.

As such, a home in a 'better' area is likely to cost less to insure. If your homeowner's insurance rates are too high, consider adding a sprinkler system, comprehensive burglar alarm, or iron fence to your property. While this comes with an occasionally hefty expense, it almost always results in a reduced monthly insurance bill for those in high-risk areas and otherwise expensive parts of Florida.

Live in a condo? Consider HO6 condominium insurance
HO1 insurance covers homeowners – HO6 insurance is for condo and apartment dwellers. If you'd like to protect your condominium from burglaries, from natural disasters, and from rioting damage, it's best to invest in HO6 condominium insurance. Due to the large amount of condo properties that are in Florida's major cities, condominium insurance is typically inexpensive and easily available.

Speak with a homeowners insurance company to arrange a condominium plan, and consider what level of insurance you would like to purchase. If your condo's maintenance and upkeep is covered by a building or area management group, it might be best to invest in a fairly minimal policy that's only designed to cover your possessions, your room's interior, and its suitability for residents.

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