If you are a Florida homeowner, you probably already know that you need special homeowner’s insurance coverage to protect against this state’s main perils, namely hurricanes and flooding. However, you may be struggling to determine which Florida homeowner insurance company you should purchase a policy through, since you want a company that understands the uniqueness of Florida homeowners’ needs. Here’s what to look for in a standout home insurance company in Florida.
10 Qualities of a Standout Florida Homeowner Insurance Company
When looking for a homeowner’s insurance company to service your policy, you want one that gets high marks for customer satisfaction. This means that customers are highly satisfied with the claims handling process, the response time for customer service inquiries, and the additional perks they receive from the company. These perks might be discounts on policies, dividends, or loyalty programs. They are also usually satisfied with the coverages offered through their company as well.
No one wants to have to contact their insurance company, but when you have to deal with them for some reason, you want the interaction to be as painless as possible. High satisfaction ratings mean that customers generally find working with the insurer simple, whether they’re filing a claim, changing their policy, or renewing their coverage. For this reason, you want to ensure the company you select has a reputation for providing superior customer service and high-quality policies.
Many Coverage Choices
As a Florida homeowner, you know that you’ll need certain types of coverage that homeowners in other areas of the country do not need. Therefore, you need a company that has plenty of coverage choices available. While most companies will offer hurricane, flood, and sinkhole coverage, not all policies are created equal. You may want a high deductible on sinkhole coverage, but a low one on hurricane coverage. Your company should be flexible enough to offer exactly what you need.
Additionally, you want to choose an insurance company that offers replacement cost coverage and not just cash value coverage. Especially in Florida, where damage to homes is likely, you want to be able to replace your house and belongings with comparable new items as opposed to getting compensation only for what your belongings and house are valued at after depreciation. This is critical in areas that are disaster-prone because construction costs skyrocket in the wake of a disaster.
This applies somewhat to customer satisfaction, since the more discounts you qualify for, the happier you’re likely to be with your homeowner’s insurance company. As such, you should look for a company that offers a wide variety of discounts on your premiums and they are discounts that apply to you. For instance, most insurance companies will offer a discount if you bundle several policies with them, but fewer companies offer a discount for non-smokers.
Moreover, you’ll want to look at the discount amounts offered and not just the types of discounts offered. As previously mentioned, you’ll be able to get a multi-policy discount with most insurance companies, but some will only offer a 10% discount, while top companies offer as much as a 25% discount. Of course, each company will also have different qualifying criteria, but if all other aspects are equal, you’ll want to go with the company that offers a better discount.
Some companies are just more forward-looking than others, and if sustainability is important to you, then you should consider a homeowner’s insurance company that provides additional coverage if you rebuild, replace, or repair your home with certain eco-friendly materials after suffering a covered loss. Since these materials are more expensive than traditional materials, this commitment to sustainability is a standout feature of some companies. You might even qualify for a sustainability discount with the company after you install eco-friendly features.
For example, there are some companies that will give you a small discount on your homeowner’s insurance premiums if your house earns a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which is a designation given to homeowners that have implemented healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving measures into their structures. This green rating system is being adopted all over the country and some insurance companies are recognizing the sustainability efforts of homeowners who obtain this certification.
Insurance of any kind can be complicated and homeowner’s insurance is certainly no exception. Sometimes, you might feel like you need a lawyer to help you figure out what a policy actually covers. For this reason, insurance companies that get top marks are those that simplify the process as much as possible so that most aspects of dealing with homeowner’s insurance are comprehensible to even the most inexperienced homeowners, especially those who are first-time homeowners.
Look for a company that has built an extensive knowledge base on its website, provides simple ways to get quotes or to file claims, and has developed a mobile app that allows you to look at the coverages on your policy, file claims, and pay your bill. If you still need answers, choose a company that has short telephone or chat wait times and high customer service ratings to ensure your questions are answered quickly and accurately.
Quick Quoting Process
You probably do not have the time to spend filling out extensive applications with several companies to get policy quotes. This is why you’ll want to choose companies that offer a quick quoting process. Many homeowner’s insurers have online applications that are available through their website and through third-party insurance brokers. The length of these applications vary, though, and some are fairly extensive, even if they are online. Find the companies that don’t require much information for an initial quote.
Additionally, not only do you not want to spend time filling out applications, but you also don’t want to have to wait long to receive your quotes. There are companies out there that can provide you with an estimated quote in less than a minute with just your address and the policy options you want to be selected. These quotes are subject to change based on the actual information you provide later, but at least they give you a place to start.
You definitely want to choose a Florida homeowner insurance company that is financially stable so you know that if you need to file a claim, the company will be around to pay it. Living in Florida, more likely than not you’ll have to file a claim, especially if you live in an area prone to hurricanes and flooding. There are many fly-by-night insurance companies around that may not be financially sound enough to be there when you need them.
This is one reason why you want to examine the track record of any company you’re considering for your policy. The companies that are well-established and have a solid record of paying valid claims are going to be better options than new companies that don’t have much of a record at all. Even if their premiums are more expensive, as a Florida homeowner, you want the assurance that your company will still be in business when you file a claim.
If you’ve lived in Florida for many years and have never had to make a homeowner’s claim, you deserve to be rewarded. Some insurance companies offer rewards to homeowners for keeping their property in good order. You can even get credit based on your previous claims history when you switch coverage to one of the companies that offer this type of reward. You have earned the trust of the insurer so you pay less.
A claims-free history can also result in other types of rewards besides a credit, including a deductible reduction or premium locks, usually when you renew your policy through the same company that offers this reward. It’s difficult to live in a state like Florida and not have reason to file a claim, but that’s why Florida homeowners usually pay more in premiums. If you can beat the odds in Florida and remain claims free, you deserve to pay less.
This quality of a standout Florida homeowner insurance policy goes hand-in-hand with the quality of having many coverage options available. However, even if a company has a lot of coverage options, it still might not be as customizable as you need. For instance, there are some companies that limit the amount of coverage you can have under other structures, personal property, and loss of use provisions, but other companies let you determine how much coverage you need.
This is important if you live in Florida because you don’t want to be limited on the amount of hurricane, flooding, or sinkhole coverage you can get. If you live closer to the coast, you may want more than some companies’ limits, but if you live further inland, maybe you want less than some companies’ minimums. Choosing a company that understands that every homeowner has different priorities is going to save you significant amounts of money in the long run.
High-Value Item Endorsements
Most homeowner’s insurance companies allow you to schedule your personal property and provide separate coverage for items like fine art, jewelry, electronics, valuable collections, and furs. However, you typically have to get these items appraised to prove their value so that you don’t purchase unreasonable coverage. Some companies, though, allow you to determine the amount of coverage you want for each item you own without an appraisal, which can be beneficial if you need to get coverage quickly.
Moreover, some insurance companies provide high-value item coverage as part of their standard policies. These companies might be a good option if you don’t want to take the time to itemize your personal property. Either way, though, you should avoid insurance companies that don’t offer any type of high-value item endorsements or coverage. Even though premiums will be lower, your compensation will be limited to standard policy payouts, which probably won’t be enough to cover your valuables.
Multiple Deductible Options
Raising your deductible is one way you can save money on your homeowner’s insurance premiums, but you have to be careful when you do this because if you raise your deductible too high, you may not be able to afford to pay your responsibility if you suffer damage or destruction from a covered peril. For this reason, you may want to consider an insurance company that offers multiple deductible options for each type of coverage.
Your dwelling deductible will usually be a flat amount, as will personal liability and medical coverage, but the other types of coverage usually have deductibles that are a percentage of your dwelling coverage amount. Some companies will only offer one or two percentage options, but others will offer as many as 10 options. The more flexibility you have in choosing your deductibles for each type of coverage, the better fit your policy will be for your exact needs.
For many homeowners, the best quality of a top Florida homeowner insurance company is a low premium, but be aware that low premiums can actually have very high costs down the road. Low premiums typically mean that you have high deductibles or low coverage, so while you’re happy paying less in premiums right now, you won’t be very happy with how much compensation you get if your house, property, or structures suffer damage or destruction from a covered event.
Instead, look for a company that provides the most coverage at the lowest premium. This means you’ll have deductibles you can afford for all coverages and you’re receiving replacement cost coverage for all provisions. So, you should not compare the bottom-line premium of the companies from which you get quotes without comparing the coverages and deductibles as well. Additionally, examine all aspects of each company based on the qualities listed here to choose the best homeowner’s insurance policy for you.
In some areas of the country, it doesn’t really matter which company you go through for homeowner’s insurance because their risk of peril is quite low. However, in Florida, the company you choose really does make a difference because you’re probably going to need to use your insurance at some point fairly soon. Contact Absolute Choice Insurance today and we’ll help you find the best insurance company to protect your home and property.