Gulfshore Insurance > Gulfshore Blog > Hurricane > Realtor Insight: Addressing Hurricane Season Insurance Concerns

PRS Realtor Insight Addressing Hurricane Season Insurance ConcernsHurricane Season can be a time of turmoil for property owners and real estate professionals alike. The short-term effects of a hurricane can occur both before and after a storm.

Before a Hurricane

Between June 1st and November 30th, Florida enters Hurricane Season, and real estate professionals should be aware of possible restrictions regarding securing insurance for a home purchase. If there is a named storm (typically a Tropical Storm, Hurricane Watch, or Warning) that develops and is threatening our area, most insurers will temporarily close for new policies until the threat passes.  In other words, a buyer won’t be able to obtain insurance. This has the potential to impact a home’s closing. If the buyer is financing the home purchase, their lender typically won’t grant a loan commitment without homeowner’s insurance. To prevent this, it is critical to advise buyers to look into securing their insurance as soon as possible, and before the closing date. Buyers should contact their insurance agent and purchase a policy as early as possible during Hurricane Season.

In addition, standard homeowners’ policies typically exclude the peril of flood. All properties are located in a flood zone.  Realtors should advise buyers to seek guidance from a local insurance advisor to perform a flood zone determination and confirm if the property is located within a Special Flood Hazard Area.

Recently, there have been numerous legislative and rate changes for flood policies by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Most recently, FEMA implemented Risk Rating 2.0 thereby transforming a pricing methodology that had not been updated in 50 years. As of April of this year, all policies are now subject to the new rating methodology. Current NFIP rates are not grandfathered in; however, if a buyer confirms the seller has an existing NFIP flood policy, a new policy can be written using the seller’s Glide Path. The seller will need to provide a copy of their current policy Declarations page; the minimum information needed includes the flood insurance carrier, policy number, expiration date, and original policy date. We recommend confirming the seller has a flood insurance policy in place through the NFIP and obtaining a copy of that policy which will enable the buyer to obtain preferred pricing for their new flood policy. If the seller does not have a flood policy in place, in addition to coverage through the NFIP, new home buyers can purchase their coverage through Private Flood markets which have been competitive for a good number of property owners in our area.

Even policy information from the seller for the property may not always be reliable due to flood zone changes and rating errors. It is best to consult an experienced Florida insurance professional at the very start of the due diligence process with any property, to get an accurate flood insurance quote and explanation of flood zones.

After a Hurricane

Insurance carriers carefully review properties for prior losses and open claims and will inspect homes after a new policy is placed, as well as spot-check the home over the life of the policy. In most cases, homes with existing damage are uninsurable if repairs are not made prior to the home closing or in a timely manner following the closing. All insurance carriers will require photos of the affected damaged areas, contractor receipts, and any applicable permits to show that the repairs have been completed.  It is not uncommon for insurance carriers to cancel coverage if issues are discovered that were not disclosed on the application. It is important to understand that overall, it is very challenging to bind a new policy for a home that has an open hurricane claim.

Following a catastrophic hurricane or other natural disaster, insurance companies may struggle to keep up with higher-than-expected losses, and subsequently, homeowners may see increases in rates. Average home insurance rates have risen in every state in the last decade, mainly due to natural disasters, and Florida’s average rate is the highest in the nation. Florida tends to have most of its damage caused by hurricanes, such as Hurricane Irma, which hit the state in September 2017 and caused $11.1 billion worth of damage, with the vast majority of that to homes.

No area in the country, or arguably the world, has a stretch of coastline as expansive and hurricane-prone as Florida. This susceptibility to hurricanes puts homeowners and insurance companies in a risky situation. Real estate professionals should always advise homeowners to seek the advice of a local insurance agent on coverages needed. Just as insurance companies have different contracts by state, the contracts can also vary greatly within a state. A local agent will be able to help navigate through these differences and identify the bigger gaps in coverage/contracts.

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in home and homeowners insurance, car and auto insurance, boat and yacht insurance, property insurance, umbrella insurance, valuables insurance for fine art, jewelry, wine, and more. Navigating insurance requires an experienced and trusted insurance agent who understands your high net worth risks and exposures. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Port Royal, Park Shore, Pelican Bay, The Moorings, Naples Beach, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Sanibel Island, Captiva, Fort Myers, Sarasota, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.