The Best Homeowners Insurance Companies in Florida
The top 4 homeowners insurance companies in the state of Florida are St. Johns Insurance, Citizen’s Property & Casualty, United Property & Casualty, and Florida Peninsula. In our experience, you’ll find the best price-to-coverage ratios along with some of the best claims processes with these 4 insurance carriers.
What is covered by homeowners insurance?
Your Homeowners Policy Provides Four Essential Protections:
- Dwelling Coverage
- Personal Belongings
- Liability Protection
- Additional Living Expenses
1. Dwelling Coverage — It provides coverage for the structure of your home
The primary function of your homeowners policy is to pay to repair or rebuild your house if it is damaged or destroyed by fire, hurricane, hail, lightning, or other disasters listed in your policy. Most policies also cover detached structures such as a garage, tool shed or gazebo—generally for about 10 percent of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of the house.
A standard homeowners insurance policy will not pay for damage caused by a flood, earthquake or routine wear and tear. While we don’t have to worry too much about earthquakes here in Florida, you will want to You will need to get a separate flood insurance policy to cover a flood caused by a natural disaster.
When purchasing coverage for the structure of your home, remember this simple guideline: Purchase enough coverage to rebuild your home.
2. Personal Belongings — It provides coverage for the things in your home
Your furniture, clothes, sports equipment and other personal items are covered if they are stolen or destroyed by fire, hurricane or other insured disasters. The coverage is generally 50 to 70 percent of the insurance you have on the structure of the house.
The best way to determine if this is enough coverage is to conduct a home inventory.
Personal belongings coverage includes items that are stored off-premises—and this actually means that you are covered anywhere in the world. Some companies limit the amount to 10 percent of the amount of insurance you have for your possessions, so please contact us to check on this if you’re concerned about coverage for your stuff kept outside your home. You also have up to $500 of coverage for unauthorized use of your credit cards.
Expensive items like jewelry, furs, art, collectibles, and silverware are covered, but there are usually dollar limits if they are stolen. To insure these items to their full value, purchase a special personal property endorsement or floater and insure the item for its officially appraised value. If you have a lot of expensive stuff, we would recommend an umbrella policy which will cover you over and above what your homeowners policy can provide.
Trees, plants, and shrubs are also covered under standard homeowners insurance—generally for about $500 per item. One thing to note though is that trees and plants are not covered against disease, or if they have been neglected or poorly maintained.
3. Liability Protection — It will help with lawsuits from accidents
Liability protection covers you against lawsuits for either bodily injury or property damage that you or your family members cause to other people. It also pays for damage caused by your pets. So, if your son, daughter (or even your dog) accidentally ruins a neighbor’s expensive rug, you are covered. (However, if they destroy your rug, you’re out of luck.)
The liability portion of your policy pays for both the cost of defending you in court and any court awards—up to the limit stated in your policy documents.
Liability limits usually start at about $100,000, but one of the things that we’ll talk with you about is whether or not you need additional coverage depending on what level of liability you’re comfortable with. It’s also a good idea that if you have a lot of stuff or expensive stuff and want more coverage than what’s available under your homeowners policy, you may want to consider purchasing an umbrella or excess liability policy, which not only provides even broader coverage, but it also provides higher liability limits.
Your policy also provides no-fault medical coverage. This means that if a friend or neighbor is injured in your home, he or she can simply submit medical bills to your insurance company. This way, expenses can be paid without having to file a liability claim against you. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay the medical bills for your own family or your pet.
4. Additional Living Expenses (ALE) — for inconvenience costs when your home is unavailable
You know those commercials on television where they advertise about financial help for “when you’re hurt and can’t work”? This is similar to that except that ALE pays the additional costs of living away from your house if you can’t live there due to damage from an insured disaster (like a tornado or hurricane). As an example, it would cover hotel bills, restaurant meals, and other costs, in excess of your usual living expenses, incurred while your home is being rebuilt.
Keep in mind that the ALE coverage in your homeowners policy has limits—and some policies include a time limitation. However, these limits are separate from the amount available to rebuild or repair your home. Even if you use up your ALE your insurance company will still pay the full cost of rebuilding your home up to the policy limit.
If you rent out part of your house, ALE also covers you for the rent that you would have collected from your tenant if your home had not been destroyed.
Types of Homeowners Policies
To be reimbursed for damage to your property, a covered peril (such as fire, theft or windstorm) must have caused your loss. Which perils your policy covers depends on the type of policy you buy. The most common types of homeowners policies are listed below. All of the policy types except the dwelling fire form cover your dwelling and its contents, as well as personal liability and medical payments. Read Table 1 to learn the specific perils each type of policy covers.
- The Dwelling Fire Form covers only your dwelling. It does not cover your personal property, personal liability or medical payments. It also covers only a few perils. It’s the type of policy your mortgage lender will buy for you if you let your homeowners policy lapse. It’s also used for vacation homes and when you can’t find other coverage.
- The Basic Form insures your property against only the list of perils shown in Table 1.
- The Modified Coverage Form is for older homes, where the cost to rebuild is greater than the market value. It covers the same set of perils as the Basic Form.
- The Broad Form insures your property against the perils shown on Table 1.
- The Special Form is the most popular of all homeowners forms. It insures your property against all perils, except those the policy specifically names as not covered. Perils commonly excluded are flood and earthquake.
- The Tenants Form is for renters. It insures your personal property against all of the perils in the Broad Form.
- The Condominium Unit Owners Form is for owner-occupants of condominium units. It insures your personal property and your walls, floors and ceiling against all of the perils in the Broad Form.
There are other types of insurance for other types of residences. If you own a townhouse, you may insure it through either an individual homeowners policy or an association master policy. If you live in a mobile home that has wheels and doesn’t rest on blocks or a permanent foundation, in most states you’ll buy a form of automobile insurance. This insurance offers far less coverage than homeowners policies. If your home is on land used for farming or raising livestock, ask about a farmowners policy.
Limits of Coverage
Your insurance agent usually will help you decide how much dwelling coverage to buy when you first get homeowners insurance. Your coverage should equal the full replacement cost of your home. Note that replacement cost and market value are not the same. The market value, which includes the price of your land, depends on the real estate market.
You should review your dwelling coverage from time to time to be sure it doesn’t drop below the cost to replace your home. If it drops below 80% of the full replacement cost of your home, your insurance company may reduce the amount that it will pay on a claim.
The limits of your coverage for other structures, for personal property and for loss of use of your home are expressed as percentages of your dwelling limit. The coverage is usually a set percentage (see Table 2). For example, if your dwelling coverage limit is $150,000 and your coverage for personal property is limited to 50% of your dwelling coverage, your coverage for personal property would be $75,000. Check your policy, as coverage limits might be based on percentages different from those in Table 2. You choose your coverage limits for your personal liability and for medical payments.
Typical Policy Limits
|Coverage Component||Typical Limit of Coverage|
|Other Structures||10% of Dwelling Coverage Limit|
|Personal Property||50% of Dwelling Coverage Limit|
|Loss of Use||20% of Dwelling Coverage Limit|
|Personal Liability||Your Choice|
|Medical Payments||Your Choice|
A deductible is the amount of money that you have to pay out-of-pocket on a claim before the policy pays the loss. The deductible applies to coverage for your home and personal property and is paid on each claim. Higher policy deductibles mean lower policy premiums. A policy with a $1,000 deductible will have a lower premium than the same policy with a $500 deductible. In some locations, there are also catastrophe deductibles, which are expressed as a percentage instead of a dollar amount.
You can choose to insure your home and its contents for either replacement cost or actual cash value. Replacement cost is the cost to rebuild your home or repair damages using materials of similar kind and quality. Actual cash value is the value of your home considering its age and wear and tear. Actual cash value coverage pays you for your loss, but often doesn’t pay enough to fully repair or replace the damage.
Filing a Claim
Read your policy—it’s your guide to the types of losses that may or may not be covered. How often you file a claim and the types of claims you file often affect your premium and whether your insurer will renew your policy. If the cost to repair the damage is not much more than your deductible, you might want to pay for the repairs without filing a claim.
In order to file a claim, you’ll want to contact us or your insurance agent as soon as possible. Ask about forms or documents you’ll need to support your claim. You’re also required to protect your home from further damage. For example, you might need to board up your home or clean up water from a backed-up drain.
Many insurance companies report your homeowners claims to private nationwide claim databases (such as the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, better known as CLUE). Insurance companies use these databases to see the claims you’ve submitted in the past.
The insurance carrier will assign a claims adjuster to assess the damages and determine the payment. These adjusters may be employees of the company or independent contractors. You should cooperate with the adjuster’s investigation of your claim. The adjuster will probably want to meet with you at your house to inspect the damage. Jot down notes and keep track of the dates of any conversations you have with your insurance agent or adjuster.
If there are disagreements between you, the insurer and the claims adjuster, first try to resolve them with your insurer. Don’t feel rushed or pushed to agree with something you aren’t comfortable with. It might help to have your contractor meet with you and the insurance adjuster.
If you and the insurer still disagree about the value of the claim, check your policy for an appraisal clause. Another option is to hire an attorney or a public adjuster.
Can You Lose Your Insurance?
Here’s How It Can Happen…
You can lose your insurance one of two ways: by cancellation or non-renewal. There’s a big difference between an insurance company canceling your policy and not renewing it.
Cancellation means either you or your insurance company stop the coverage before the policy’s normal expiration date (which is usually 12 months after the policy starts). You can always cancel your policy for any reason. When you’re a new policyholder, there’s a limited period of time (typically 60 days) in which your insurance company can cancel your policy for any reason. After that, it can only cancel you if you don’t pay your premium, if you’ve lied on your application, or if your risk has changed substantially.
Non-renewal means the company refuses to renew your policy after it expires. Insurance companies generally have the right to not renew your policy. If your company chooses not to renew your policy, Florida law states that your carrier must give you notice 45 days in-writing. You may ask the insurer for the reason and you also may choose not to renew your policy.
If your carrier non-renews your policy, please call us and we’ll make sure to find the right coverage for you.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Flooding?
It depends on what you mean by “flooding”…
When it is…
If a pipe in your home ruptures and the water causes damage to your personal property and/or household, it would be covered under your homeowners insurance.
In insurance terms, this isn’t “flooding” but “water damage” (refer to the table above).
When it isn’t…
If your home is flooded by a storm like a hurricane and the water covers at least 2 acres of land, that’s covered under a Flood Insurance policy and is NOT covered by your homeowners insurance.