What Does Wind Mitigation Mean to Your Insurance Rates?
By Diane Tait
|Image courtesy Pixabay|
Living in Jacksonville means living with the wind, rain and the occasional named storm during the long, hot summer. Aside from thunder, lightning and torrential rain, all squalls lash our homes with high winds that can strip shingles from the roof or hurl windblown debris through a window. Insurance companies who sell their policies in Florida realize the potential for destruction that wind can cause. That’s why they insist that homes be inspected for wind mitigation every few years. If you’re in the dark as to how wind mitigation effects your insurance rates or are interested in learning how you can qualify for wind mitigation credits that can lower your premiums, read on.
When was your home built? If your Florida home was built in the past 19-years, it was constructed under stricter building codes than those of the 20th Century. On March 1, 2002, a statewide Florida Building Code was enacted. That means homes built after 3/1/02 are eligible for up to a 68% saving on the windstorm portion of a homeowner’s policy. Homes built prior to that don’t qualify even if they meet or exceed FBC standards. The only exceptions to the rule are those homes that meet the High Velocity Hurricane Zone standards, provided that they were built on or after Sept. 1, 1994, and they were constructed in either Dade or Broward counties.
When was the last time you had your roof replaced? As a roof ages, its ability to hold back the elements diminishes. That’s why homes with newer roofs are eligible for up to a 40% discount in rates. As a roof ages, not only is wind mitigation diminished, the prevalence of leaks increases substantially. According to insurance standards, a roof depreciates 5% of its value for every year it’s on a home. One way to reduce your homeowner’s insurance premiums could be to have that old roof replaced with new.
What kind of roof does your home have? – The type of roof your home has can also affect the rates. That’s because some materials deal with wind better than others. A 3-tab asphalt shingle roof is only rated for winds of up to 70 MPH, whereas architectural shingles can handle winds of 110 MPH. Metal roofs can withstand winds from 110-160 MPH.
How well is your roof attached to the rafters? There are criteria that applies to how a roof is attached to the rafters. To qualify for wind mitigation credits, a home built on or after 3/1/02 must have 3 nails attaching roof sheathing with a minimum thickness of 7/16 inch to the rafters or truss. Older roofs or those with thinner sheathing or one less nail don’t qualify. Having heavier sheathing and additional fasteners make it that much harder for high winds to tear a roof off a home.
|Image courtesy Pixabay|
Are you attached to your walls? If so, the insurance industry wants to know how they’re attached to your home. Everything from the type of fasteners (toenails or clips), to whether the roof is single or double wrapped has a direct bearing on whether you qualify for wind mitigation credits. (Hint: Clips and double wraps are strongest.) This part of a wind mitigation inspection is so important that homes with no attic access are immediately disqualified from receiving any credits since it’s impossible to determine how the roof is attached to the walls.
Did you pass geometry? The reason I ask is because the shape of your home’s roof is another factor that determines its ability to mitigate wind. Generally, there are three classifications of roof geometry when it comes to homes: Flat, hip and other. Hip roofs are preferred over flat roofs since the sides slope down to deflect the wind, where a flat roof provides better purchase for high winds to provide uplift. For a home to qualify for a discount, 90% of a roof must be classified as hip.
Does your home have a secondary water barrier? If your home was built after 2002 or your roof was recently replaced, a secondary moisture barrier may have been installed beneath the shingles. This membrane doesn’t require nails to hold it down since the product is designed to be self-adhering. It’s also designed to be self-healing in case of small punctures. Don’t confuse this product with synthetic roof underlayments that don’t qualify for an insurance discount.
How impact resistant are your windows, doors & skylights? While this item is more often included in wind mitigation inspections conducted in south Florida which is considered a hurricane debris zone, you should point out to the inspector any door, window, or skylight that’s rated for high impacts. This can include storm shutters that have been installed to protect any of the abovementioned items. (Note: You may be required to replace windows, doors, or skylights to qualify for this discount.)
What can you do to improve your home’s wind mitigation rating? Before you spend a lot of your hard-earned money on home improvements that may or may not qualify for an insurance discount, it would be a good idea to touch base with your insurance agent. He or she will be able to tell you what you need to do to qualify for any credits or discounts.
Who is qualified to perform a wind mitigation inspection in Florida? While licensed building code inspectors are qualified to perform a wind mitigation inspection, the same doesn’t necessarily hold true for all licensed home inspectors. To qualify, they’re required to complete an approved training course and pass a proficiency exam provided by the Construction Industry Licensing Board. Residential contractors can perform a wind mitigation, as can an architect, a construction engineer, or any inspector approved by the insurance company that wrote your homeowner’s policy.
Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance. To find out more about how you can save money on insurance, go to her site or fill out the form at right.