Your house endures a lot. Heavy winds can tear shingles off your roof; pipes may burst unexpectedly; the family cat has too much fun while you’re gone and knocks a floor lamp into a window. Thankfully, most of those incidents are covered with a solid homeowners insurance policy.

Still, the process of finding the right plan for your home can be confusing. We took a look at the top insurance companies in Florida and evaluated them against rigorous standards. We set out to find the best insurance providers Florida had to offer in terms of transparency, affordability, financial standing, and customer service. We want to make sure you’re covered when life throws you a curveball — a curveball that accidentally dislodges a column on your patio and drops a portion of your roof on your lawn.

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The Best Homeowners Insurance in Florida

Freshome’s Recommended Homeowners Insurance Companies in Florida: State FarmAmicaGEICO (Security First)Citizens

It’s important to get quotes from as many companies as possible before selecting an insurance policy. Most companies offer online quotes, but Florida marches to the beat of its own. Because insurance companies work through individual brokers, online quotes are not available in the state, so you will have to call an agent to get a quote.

Freshome’s research team was on the case. We called around and asked for yearly premium estimates for our fictitous home — a 2,000-square-foot, single-family home valued at $200,000.

Of course, each homeowner’s situation is unique. Factors such as burglar and fire alarm systems, presence of a swimming pool, age of the house, homeowner credit history, age, and claims history play a part in determining the yearly premium. Because quotes vary significantly, this should not be read as a concrete ranking of home insurance companies, but as a guide to help you make a well-informed decision about which plan to choose.

Our Quotes
State Farm$1,750 Per Year
Amica$2,200 Per Year

When looking for insurance, it is important to considering their financial strength ratings from organizations like J.D. Power, A.M. Best, and Moody’s. Based on these rankings, we determined you may want to give a shot to Mercury Insurance, American Family, and GEICO (which operates in Florida under Security First).

What You Should Know Before Getting a Quote

Get HO3 Coverage

Freshome recommends that homeowners look for HO3 coverage. This type of insurance is a hybrid policy. Your dwelling is covered by an “open perils” policy. This means that your home will be covered by any disaster, except for those explicitly listed as being excluded. Transparency is always a good thing. Your possessions are covered by a “named perils” policy, which means that your belongings are covered only by a disaster if it’s specifically listed on your policy.

Other types of insurance, such as HO1, offer a limited list of what it covers — sticking the homeowner with the bill in the likely event non-home property is involved in a claim.

Rates Will Vary

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average yearly premium in 2013 for homeowners insurance in Florida was $2,115 — much higher than the national average of $1,096 that year. The quote received from State Farm was much lower than the average, while Amica was a little above average. Remember, that quotes vary wildly based on a wide range of circumstances.

To keep your premium low low, Kristofer Kirchen, president of Tampa-based Advanced Insurance Managers, LLC, has some advice when buying your home:

“Buy a newer house (2002 or newer), if at all possible. Houses built after 2001 meet Florida Building Code 2001 that came into being and are hardened against wind losses. This will give a maximum discount,” he said. “If that is not possible, the newer a house is, the better as insurers give a sliding-scale discount for year of construction. In either case, a newer home will give a person more carrier choices and better premiums.”

Be Prepared for Your Quote

Collect as much information about your house as possible. This includes construction history, roofing materials, age of the home, size, distance to the nearest fire station, number of smoke detectors, and much more. If a claim has been made on the house in the last five years (by you or the previous owner), your insurance agent needs to know. Always keep your property information handy when you begin pricing.

Your Credit May Affect Your Premiums

Nationally, homeowners whose credit scores dropped from “Excellent” to “Poor” saw an increase of nearly double their previous rates. In Florida, however, there was zero increase according to a 2014 report from InsuranceQuotes.com. That doesn’t necessarily mean that your credit score will not affect your insurance premiums, so it’s still good to stay on top of your credit score.

Flood Insurance Is Not Included

This is an important factor to consider, especially because flood insurance is not required when purchasing home insurance, nor is it covered by a basic homeowners policy. Not to mention, Florida downpours can be especially torrential during hurricane season. The state’s average precipitation ranks fifth in the entire US. Ask your insurance agent if you’ll need to add on flood insurance.

Don’t Forget to Consider Sinkholes

When looking for a home in Florida, try to look in an area with few reported sinkholes — a natural disaster that occurs when the rock below the surface dissolves and forms a large pit. Sinkholes are dangerous, as they can swallow up a house. Thus, an area that is at high risk will likely result in higher homeowners insurance premiums. Because Florida is included in the US Geological Survey’s list of sinkhole states, agents are required to offer coverage.

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What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Gregory Golson, Vice President of Bracken Engineering, said to be sure of the restrictions placed on your replacement cost coverage. “Find out the limits on certain property as some policies only allow $1,000–$,2000 for all jewelry,” he explained.

The Insurance Information Institute suggests homeowners go room to room and complete an inventory of their items to make the claims process easier in the event of a loss. Take photos or videos, and store the information in a fireproof box. The Institute adds that 50 to 70 percent of insurance consists of personal belongings.

Generally, coverage for personal belongings also covers items stored off-premise, meaning you can be away from Florida and still be able to file a claim on any of your possessions damaged on the trip, anywhere in the world.

Four-Point Inspection From Your Insurance Company

Some insurance companies will not offer rebates for homes if they were only inspected by a home inspector, according to Ines Hegedus-Garcia of the South Florida realty blog, Miamism.com.

“In order to get a rebate for insurance, four-point inspections are being done during property’s ‘inspection period’ or ‘due diligence period.’ We recommend that they get a different four-point inspector, recommended by specific insurance company, instead of doing that four-point inspection by home inspection company.

“Challenges exist with older homes where electrical, plumbing, windows/doors and roofing may not be up to current code. Insurance companies will not give rebate for homes that don’t meet their specific criteria, but companies will often credit the rebates after home is purchased and upgrades are done.”

Why Are Florida’s Rates So High?

Florida has some of the highest insurance rates in the nation, according to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. In fact, insurance rates are so high that it has been a major campaigning issue in the governor races over the past decade.

But what exactly makes Florida so much more expensive than any other state? Simply put, Florida is risky. Given its position on the coast, the potential for catastrophic damage from hurricanes and tropical storms is high — especially in more densely populated areas.

Many Floridians have to go through Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, the state’s government-run insurance agency established in 2002. If none of our private market suggestions work out, Citizens is there to provide the safety net homeowners may need to find the home insurance they deserve.

FAQs

What are common coverage gaps?

There are a few incidents most homeowners think are automatically covered under homeowners insurance but are usually not. The biggest is water backup/sump pump overflow coverage. A sump pump is a piece of equipment often found in the basement of houses that removes water in an area where it collects. Water backup/sump pump overflow coverage has to be added to your home insurance plan. Most companies will offer it at the time of purchase for a little additional cost to your premium. Decide if it’s worth it to you in the long run, and remember that water damage can be expensive.

We know Florida is “The Sunshine State,” but that doesn’t mean the state is immune to the occasional freeze. In 2015, Tampa Bay temperatures dropped below freezing, setting new records. In the rare event that happens, there may be a chance your insurance won’t cover pipes that burst in the freezing cold. Be sure you take proper precautions — such as draining the pipes — before those record-breaking nights happen next winter.

How much should my deductible be?

That depends on a lot of different factors. In reality, it should be a number you can afford in the event something should happen to your property. Can you shell out $2,500 should you sustain major roof damage? If so, then that’s the deductible for you. Really, the deductible should be commensurate with your income. If you raise your deductible, you’ll likely pay a lower premium, and vice versa.

How can I lower my premiums?

When it comes to insurance, it can seem like, “The higher the fun, the higher the premium.” It certainly applies to common backyard toys like swimming pools, diving boards, trampolines, and tree houses. These are known in the industry as “attractive nuisances.” Formally, attractive nuisances are defined as objects that will likely attract the attention of unassuming children — or worse, the neighbors’ children. The last thing you want is an innocent trespasser slipping on your pool deck when you’re not home.

So if you opt to keep your attractive nuisances separate from the actual structure or property, you’ll do yourself a favor and lower your premium. Unless you decide a pool is worth the extra fee.

Another way to lower your premium is to pay yearly rather than monthly. While a $1,700 premium may seem like a lot, it’s a lot cheaper than paying $190 for 12 months. When getting your quote, be sure to double check the yearly rate knocks off a couple hundred from your premium.

I already have a home warranty; do I still need home insurance?

Yes. A home warranty is not the same as home insurance. A good home warranty will ease your pocketbook worries in the event your refrigerator goes on the fritz. Home warranties cover your large appliances — like the fridge or the dryer — that aren’t necessarily included in your homeowners insurance.

But you don’t need to have a home warranty. Read our rundown of home warranty coverage to get an idea if it’s right for you.

Take Action

It’s not always easy to be a homeowner in Florida. Rates are high and the threat of a natural disaster looms. That’s why you should delve into the research and find the homeowners insurance policy that’s right for you. After reading this guide, you should have a better idea of what homeowners insurance typically covers, how much a premium should cost, and gaps to look out for. Be sure to call around and gather many quotes. We suggest starting with these recommended companies.

Freshome’s Recommended Homeowners Insurance Companies in Florida: State FarmAmicaGEICO (Security First)Citizens

Compare Homeowners Insurance Rates

To quickly find and compare rates in your area, enter your ZIP code below.

Enter Your ZIP Code:

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