With the high risk presented by Florida’s hurricane-prone location, home insurance in the state can be difficult to obtain at a reasonable price. Unlike other states, Florida homeowners will find themselves selecting from smaller, state-specific carriers over major insurance companies much of the time. Of those, some insurers outshine the rest for both price and customer service.
The Basics of Florida Home Insurance
Like every other state, Florida home insurance starts with the same basics. Dwelling coverage, personal property, and liability coverage make up the backbone of any homeowner’s policy. Many other coverages may come standard or as options depending on the company.
Dwelling coverage pays to repair or replace the home in the event of one of the covered perils, and calculated replacement cost should be the minimum at which this coverage is extended to be properly protected. Many companies offer extended replacement cost coverage to protect against the rising cost of construction.
This coverage is not required by any law, but it is required by your lender. The mortgagee on your house will have requirements as a part of the loan contract to protect their interest in the home; one of these is that you keep in force a home insurance policy that meets the minimum limits.
If you do not carry this coverage, or let it lapse, the mortgage company can force-place an insurance policy, which will be charged to you. This type of policy only protects the lender and has no protection for you as the owner including your personal property. Carrying a comprehensive home insurance policy ensures your biggest investment is protected, and so are you.
Specifics of Home Insurance in Florida
Due to the hurricane risk, there are a few things that appear on Florida home insurance policies that may not appear in other states. The most common of these is a wind mitigation discount, which provides a lower rate on homes where steps have been taken to reduce the risk of wind damage. A wind mitigation inspection may be done on the home to earn a lower insurance rate.
Flood insurance is another big fact of life in Florida; due to the high risk of flood in many parts of the state, homeowner’s may be required to carry this coverage. Flood insurance is not a standard part of a home insurance policy and is sold as a separate policy in most cases.
We selected the best home insurance companies in Florida based on reputation for taking care of customers, comprehensive policy offerings, and of course competitive rates.
Because many of the top companies in Florida are state-specific, they do not show up in large nationwide rating surveys. We looked instead at the complaints database compiled by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, which provides a ratio of complaints to the number of policies in force for many Florida home insurance companies. We also looked over customer reviews and complaint volume gathered from consumer sites.
Rates are a big factor in the Florida insurance market, but an inexpensive rate is not worth the savings if the coverage is not up to par. Some companies reduce rates by offering actual cash value instead of replacement cost, or cutting out extra benefits. We chose only companies that offer real value – a good policy with good coverage at a good price.
All of our top picks offer coverage to the majority of Florida homeowners. We did not select companies that cater to a specific group – such as high-value homes – or have eligibility requirements, such as membership in a certain group. Or top picks offer standard homeowner’s insurance for a range of home types and values.
Our Top Picks
These three companies made the grade for solid policies, great value, and good customer service ratings.
Security First offers a solid homeowner’s insurance package policy with all of the options we expect to see, including replacement cost coverage for the home as well as personal property. Unlike other companies, Security First sells its own flood insurance that can be added on to the homeowners and provides better coverage than a National Flood Insurance Program policy.
In addition to a good home insurance program, Security First has a good reputation, with a relatively low complaint volume. Their rates vary greatly depending on location, so they may be more competitive in some counties than in others, but they do offer some good discounts to mitigate rates.
With a low complaint volume in the state database and elsewhere, People’s Trust is a growing player in the Florida insurance market. They offer several policy options, which means they may be able to cover even homes that do not qualify elsewhere, but still have comprehensive coverage and all of the endorsements we expect from a good home insurer.
People’s Trust does not appear in the rate comparison charts, so we are unable to determine how rates compare, but the fact that they were the fastest growing home insurance in the state several years running points to low prices. They are a good bet if you aren’t able to get coverage with one of the bigger companies in the state, or just prefer a small but efficient insurer.
In spite of the fact that the biggest insurers by market share are all Florida-based companies, the nation’s biggest insurance company still makes our list. State Farm ranks well on a national level for customer satisfaction, and there are no concerns in terms of their financial stability.
State Farm also comes in with very competitive rates, and unlike the other companies on our list, they can offer auto insurance and home bundling discounts. They are the top pick for anyone that wants a big-name insurance company and prefers to bundle their coverage.
Shopping for Florida Home Insurance
Because the biggest companies in the state are all local insurers and not big national companies, Florida insurance shoppers will have to put in a little more legwork than in other states. These companies often rely on agents to sell policies, and as a result, many do not offer online quoting.
The biggest key to getting the best deal on your home insurance is to find an agent you trust. Word of mouth and online reputation are both good ways to find an agent that has your best interests in mind and will put in the effort required to shop your rate around. A good agent will also be honest with you about each company’s reputation. Since not all agents represent all of the companies, you may need to speak with more than one agent.
That said, it is always a good idea to do your own homework and check up on the reputation of any company you are considering.
Smart shopping for home insurance means knowing what kind of coverage you need and ensuring every quote meets your needs so you can compare them fairly. Take the time to calculate a proper replacement cost for your home, as insurance companies will vary greatly in their calculations, so you will know what you’re looking for, and request quotes that meet or exceed that amount. Bear in mind that you will have to meet lender requirements as well.
The Bottom Line
The Florida home insurance market is dominated by local insurers, which can make shopping more difficult than elsewhere. While there are some solid options among those companies, do not count out the big names; some major insurance companies do still offer a great value in Florida.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.