Florida has some of the highest insurance rates in the country, and for good reason. Of the ten most devastating hurricanes in the United States, seven hit Florida — and six occurred in 2004 and 2005. The state is still dealing with the aftermath of 2017’s Hurricane Irma, which caused so much damage that one insurer recruited and trained real estate agents to help them handle the flood of insurance claims.
But, hurricanes aren’t the only natural disasters to affect Florida; in 2016, the state ranked sixth in the nation for wildfires and seventh for tornadoes. The Sunshine State isn’t always sunny, and living in Florida means being ready to take on dangerous weather.
There are a lot of factors that go into homeowners insurance rates, and you’re going to want to shop around to determine which provider can offer the best deal — but if you want to own a home in Florida, you need to be prepared to pay high premiums. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners reports that Florida homeowners with a H03 policy pay an average of $1,993 per year, compared to the national average of $1,173.
You also need to get to know some insurance companies you might not have heard of; many of the big insurance providers avoid Florida, and the state’s top five providers include a few local insurers, one government option, and one good neighbor who stuck around.
We took a look at those top five providers and compared them using the same methodology and metrics we developed for our nationwide homeowners insurance review. We checked provider ratings with agencies like J.D. Power and A.M. Best, compared lists of policy options and discounts, and even called customer service to see what type of experience a client might get. Here’s how the five candidates stacked up.
Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
This state-backed insurance program is often called “the insurer of last resort” because it’s available to people who don’t have other insurance opportunities — but that doesn’t mean we need to put it last on our list. Citizens doesn’t offer as many coverage packages as Tower Hill or as many discounts as State Farm, but it does include options like personal property coverage and sinkhole damage coverage. You can also get discounts for installing fire or burglar alarms or by installing wind-mitigation features in your home.
We were very impressed by Citizens Property’s Learning Center; like Tower Hill, Citizens offers educational materials in both text and video form; unlike other companies, it offers Spanish language options.
We were less impressed with Citizens Property’s customer service. Although the representative we spoke with was able to answer our questions, we had to navigate through multiple phone trees with lengthy menu options just to get the opportunity to talk to a person.
The state makes it easy to compare insurance rates.
Use the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s online rate comparison toolto make smart choices about insurance in your area. Although this tool doesn’t give you a personalized quote, it does let you select from a few different sample homes and view typical insurance rates for that type of home in your county.
When we looked at potential rates for a $300,000 new construction home in Polk County, for example, we learned that Tower Hill offered the best rates, with an annual estimated payment of around $1,554. State Farm, meanwhile, offered some of the most expensive rates at $3,995. You’ll still want to get a quote of your own, but this tool can help you decide which insurers might offer the lowest rates for your property.