Many homeowners believe that switching insurance companies is the only way to save on their windstorm (hurricane) insurance premiums. Unfortunately, companies with the lowest premiums may not have enough money to pay claims after a storm. Rather than buy insurance from an insurance company without the capital to pay losses, homeowners can reduce their premiums by taking advantage of wind mitigation credits.
Wind mitigation credits are premium discounts based on the ability of a home to tolerate strong winds without experiencing damage. According to one estimate, if homes were constructed in a manner beyond that which is currently required by building codes, the average losses per year would be reduced by over 70%. This is why increasing a structure’s wind resistance, or hardening, allows homeowners to save on their windstorm insurance premiums.
Homes built or retrofitted to incorporate specific mitigation features designed to increase wind resistance may qualify for wind mitigation credits. Insurance companies consider numerous factors when determining the availability and amount of wind mitigation credits, such as:
- Roof Covering: Is the roof covered by shingles, clay tiles, metal, built-up tar, membrane, gravel or other material that meets or exceeds building codes?
- Secondary Water Resistance (SWR): Is there a layer of protection between the roof covering and the roof decking (plywood, metal panels, etc.) that protects the home if the roof covering blows off?
- Roof Deck Attachment: How is the roof decking connected to the roof trusses or rafters?
- Roof-to-Wall Attachment: How are the walls connected to the roof trusses or rafters (toe nails, clips, single or double wraps, etc.)?
- Roof Geometry: What is the shape of the roof (hip roof, flat roof, etc.)?
- Opening Protection: How are openings, such as windows, doors and skylights protected against flying debris (shutters, hurricane glass, etc.)?
Mitigations features must meet very specific guidelines to qualify for credits. For example, the availability of a wind mitigation credit can depend on the size, spacing and number of nails used in the roof deck or roof-to-wall attachment. Credits will not be awarded unless there is strict compliance with applicable building codes, laws, regulations or standards.
The first step to getting a wind mitigation credit is to get the home inspected. Wind mitigation inspections, which typically cost less than $250 and take about an hour, are often done by licensed building inspectors, contractors, architects and engineers. However, since state laws and specific insurance company requirements may dictate who is qualified to perform wind mitigation inspections, be sure to confirm licenses and check references before hiring an inspector.
Those who do not qualify for one or more wind mitigation credits should consider the cost of hardening their homes and the anticipated savings. Since the amount of wind mitigation credit typically depends on various factors, including state laws and specific insurance company requirements, the assistance of a qualified insurance agent may be needed to estimate premium savings. If the math does not justify retrofitting, homeowners should keep wind mitigation credits in mind the next time general repairs are being done, such as roof and window repair or replacement.
If you would like to learn more about wind mitigation credits or windstorm insurance, contact us.
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