About Buying Insurance in Gainesville
Before I owned my first home, I never realized the complexities of home owners insurance or property insurance. When you are buying your home in Gainesville or Alachua County there are some things to keep in mind. First, your home owners insurance will not cover floods. To get flood protection, your provider will have to add an additional rider through the National Flood Insurance Program. It is important to verify the status of your new home or property and the designation of the property in the flood map. In Gainesville, I work with qualified surveyors who can assist you. Typically the rate for insurance is set nationally based on the type of flood zone (decided by FEMA) where the home is located.
When speaking with insurance agents about quotes on your new home or property, you will need your new address, the age of the home, the age of the roof, type of construction, the heated/cooled and total square feet of the home and purchase price. It may be necessary to have the quote based on a set value of the home (usually the cost to replace it) versus your actual purchase price. Remember too that the land's value is included in your purchase price and would not be included in the replacement value for insurance purposes.
Each insurance policy will have a deductible that you would need to pay prior to making a claim on your insurance. Make sure that if you are comparing insurance policy quotes that you are also using the same deductible. However, the deductible for windstorm (aka Hurricane coverage) is set by the State of Florida. It is a standard 2% of the value of your home. So for example, if you own a $200,000 home and have damage to your home during a windstorm, you would need to pay the first $4,000 in repairs.
Ways and tips to reduce the cost of property insurance:
- In Gainesville it is usually possible to have your home monitored by a security company for fire, burglary, etc., and that will help reduce your annual insurance premium.
- It became law in 2002 that insurance companies must give discounts to homes that have construction features that mitigate damage from windstorms. To take advantage of this feature, you must have your home inspected by certified wind mitigation inspector. There is no guarantee the home will have features to reduce your premium. Typical insurance inspection is $150 to $200.
- Some discounts are available to home owners who also insure their cars with the same company.
- Raise your deductible. For instance, you might not make a claim on your insurance for a repair that cost $250. Or $500. Whatever your comfort level, increasing the deductible may save you money. Although I have encountered rules by some lenders where the maximum deductible is 1% of the value of the house.
- Be sure to shop around and use a local agent who is familiar with the area and can give you great service should a disaster ever strike.
I work with a great group of local insurance agents from companies throughout Gainesville and other areas of the county. Feel free to contact me for a list of names of people that can help you with your insurance needs in Gainesville and Alachua County.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Should I pay my first year's insurance premium before the closing?
A: No. Simply put, it can be difficult to prove. It is often very fast paced in the last few days before a closing. Let the closing attorney or title agent collect the funds for your first year's annual insurance premium at the closing table along with your down payment and other closing costs.
Q: My lender determined the property is in a flood zone, but I hear these maps are outdated and often wrong. What can I do?
A: Most surveyors are able to do an elevation certificate that verifies not only the location of the flood zones in conjunction with your structures on the property, but also the relative height of those structures within the known elevation of the flood zone. So the short answer is that you can determine if your home is above the flood zone. Your surveyor will have to also file paperwork with FEMA and/or the county. The good news is that if the elevation certificate is successful in proving your home isn't in the flood zone, a process that could take months, then your payments toward flood insurance are refundable.