A quick Google search for the terms “homeowners insurance companies Florida” shows a consumer an overwhelming list of insurers and a few articles regarding how to choose a company.
Insurers run the gamut from national companies to local companies, from those exclusive to one group (such as military members) to those who cover anyone. There are many companies writing homeowners insurance in Florida. Some are for specific groups – such as USAA for military service members – and some are your standard national insurers – such as State Farm. Not all of them are going to work for you. It’s difficult, if not a daunting task to choose.
According to a quick search on the FL Office of Insurance Regulation website, there are 875 property and casualty insurers in the state. What does that mean? That means there are a ton of companies in Florida to choose from.
It also means a whole lot of digging through ratings, reviews, policies, riders, agencies, and complaints to get an idea of which one you want to rely on.
In fact, as a Florida homeowner, you’re faced with the task of narrowing the field to one insurer to cover hazards to your home. So which one do you pick? Well, that depends on a lot of factors. Not all insurance companies are the same. That seems to go without saying, however, you’d be surprised how many people think of them as being the same dog with different fleas.
Who writes homeowners insurance in Florida?
Below are a few Florida Homeowners Insurance Companies that are currently writing policies. Consider these companies when it comes time to shop for a new policy.
Tower Hill Insurance Group is one of the largest insurers in the state of Florida. This company can provide you with the best extensive services along with coverage for any water, sewer issues, your possessions, and also identity theft. This company also offers its own flood coverage. Tower Hill Insurance Group is definitely an affordable company. They can provide you with rates that fit your budget. This company is also reliable. In addition, it has received an A rating.
If you are an active, retired, honorably discharged officer, or an enlisted personnel of the military here in the US, you qualify to receive USAA insurance coverage. USAA is ready to stand by all of their members. With deep roots in the military, all employees are committed to helping customers as much as possible.
State Farm is a nationwide insurance company. They provide a large network of dedicated agents ready to help you whenever you need it. State Farm is a great company to bundle policies with as they can offer you many different types of insurance.
Citizens Property insurance is also another choice. This company cannot provide you with as many coverage packages as other companies but can still provide customers with personal property coverage and sinkhole coverages. Citizens Property also provides educational articles and videos that can help customers better understand their policies. They also cater to Spanish speaking individuals as well.
Federated National Insurance Company
Federated National Insurance Company also is known as Fed Nat, is another company to keep in mind. Fed Nat was founded in the state of FL in the year 1992. They are deeply committed to providing customers with fair and competitive pricing along with amazing customer service. Fed Nat also boasts a Financial Stability Rating of A. They can also write homeowners, federal floods, and other lines of insurance.
What do you need when it comes to a policy?
First things first when it comes to purchasing a policy, what do you need? Do you just need a simple homeowner policy, or do you need special riders? How close to the coast are you? Are you in the direct path many hurricanes come through? Is your home vulnerable to storms? These are questions you need to ask and get answered before you even think of picking a company.
If you have a mortgage on your home, which many people do, your bank or mortgage company will more than likely have specific coverage levels you need to have. This is a great starting point for deciding on a policy, or at least minimum coverage levels.
Determine a Policy Budget
Second, look at your budget. See how high of a monthly, quarterly, or annual premium you can afford. Keep in mind, if you pay your premium annually, you may qualify for a discount. Also, don’t be put off by a high deductible: the higher the deductible, the lower the premium and the better the coverage.
Make sure though, when you are choosing a high deductible, you realize that one day, should the worst happen, you are responsible for paying that amount. Your insurance company will pay the claim minus the deductible amount. Start planning now for how you will pay that. If the deductible isn’t high enough, you’ll be paying a high premium; if it’s too high when you need your home fixed, you may not be able to afford it.
Talk to others who are currently insured
Third, talk to people. Find out what insurance company your neighbors use. Ask them why they chose the company. Did their mortgage company or bank recommend it? How long have they been with their insurer? Have they filed any claims? How quickly were the claims processed and were there issues with them?
The people who have lived in your area for a long period of time have probably filed a claim or two. They have learned if their homeowners’ insurance company makes good on claims, or gives you the runaround.
Also ask them why they went with their current insurer over another one, what type of policy and riders they have, and why they have them. Especially if you are new to FL, you may not know every type of hazard you may face as a homeowner. Is the area prone to flooding? Do you need additional hurricane insurance? Have there been issues with the sewers and do you need a rider for that? They will be able to provide you with the information you are looking for easily.
You’d be surprised what type of information jogs a memory for someone. Once you’ve got a list of insurers from people you know, and you’ve picked their brains clean of insurance related information, it’s time to do some digging on your own. Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints. It’s a great place to see if there are complaints, what types of complaints there are, and who filed them. A lot of customer complaints regarding claims? Time to move on to the next one!
When you’ve got your short list of potential companies, pick up the phone and start calling the local agents that service your friends and neighbors. They should have formed good, solid relationships in your area, and be fully aware of what risks you need to cover.
Is a larger homeowners insurance company in Florida better?
A good starting point for comparison is size. Is bigger better? Or do you want to go with a small, insurer?
Smaller companies can give you that Mom and Pop feel many consumers really love. However, smaller companies may not have the financial resources to pay out on big claims from a hurricane or other natural disaster. Many are backed by large reinsurance companies – reinsurance is a fancy way of saying your insurer has insurance – but having an insurer go belly-up right after a major storm is not a pleasant thought.
Bigger companies may have lots of layers of red tape or hoops to jump through for claims, but let’s face it, they have the money to pay. And that is, in the long run, what it’s about, getting money when you need it. The best way to get the Mom and Pop feel from a big company is to develop a relationship with your local agent. He or she should have ties to the community and be someone you can get ahold of should you need them. There’s nothing worse than not being able to reach your agent should the need arise. Well, not getting the claim paid at all would be worse, but having to chase down your agent is a close second.
Another thing to keep in mind is how much insurance you need. Many insurers have limits on who or what they will insure. For example, USAA only insures active duty military members assigned to a duty station in the state. Other insurers have limits on flood and hurricane insurance. Also, if you have expensive jewelry, you’ll need a rider for that.