Florida Life Hurricanes

Be Prepared…Hurricane Season Starts Today

IMG_0555[1]Although this is obviously a joke and not a real evacuation plan, everyone who lives in the State of Florida should have a real evacuation plan by now.  If you have been postponing making one because we have been lucky and haven’t had a hurricane strike in Florida for years, you should at least have a basic hurricane plan and some of the general supplies on hand .  The last thing you want to do when a warning is upon us is to be scrambling for supplies.


Buying Florida Life Hurricanes

New Insurance Factors To Consider When Buying Your Home

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about how cheap flood insurance is if you don’t live in a flood zone.  After last Wednesday’s heavy rains, even many of us who do not live in flood zones witnessed flooded streets and front yards.  Before you go out and buy  flood insurance, you need to be aware that on Tuesday, October 1, federal flood insurance rate hikes kicked in.  That does not mean you should not get the insurance, since it is still affordable compared to other forms of insurance, but depending in what flood zone you live or are buying, in, the rate hike could increase nearly tenfold.  If you purchased prior to July 6, 2012, the increases will be at 25% per year until you reach the new non-subsidized rate.  Many states, including Florida, are trying to delay the federal hikes until the impact on the real estate market can be taken into consideration, but the current congressional stalemate has tied up the bill.

The second insurance factor to consider when buying your home is hurricane insurance.  By now everyone has heard that Citizen’s, our insurer of last resort, wants to get out of the insurance business and is giving incentives to smaller insurance companies to take over windstorm insurance.  Although wind mitigation discounts are still given, there is a good chance that insurance premiums are going to increase fairly significantly.  Both of these insurances should be taken into consideration in your financial calculations when you are purchasing your home.  Phil Lyons, at Insource Insurance, can assist you in determining how much properly insuring what is most likely your biggest asset will cost.


Buying Florida Life Hurricanes

Hurricane Insurance: Will It Be The Next Shoe To Drop In The Recovering Real Estate Market

I attended a Citizens Property Insurance Round Table sponsored by State Representative Frank Artiles and Senator Oscar Braynon to discuss the proposed changes to Citizens’ current 10% rate increase cap.  In an attempt to decrease the State of Florida’s financial exposure in the event of a major hurricane, Citizens has already removed some 17,000 policies from their coverage, eliminated or modified the amounts that will be deducted from a homeowners premium for mitigation upgrades, tightened their requirements on insurance based on useful life of the roof, and raised premiums.  They no longer insure properties over $1 million.

Although I understand that the State of Florida does not, and probably should not, want to be in the insurance business, there are no other viable alternatives for windstorm protection in this state.  If Citizens is allowed to remove the current cap on increases, premiums for coverage in South Florida could jump between 50 and 95%.  Buyers who recently purchased their homes or investment properties could be in a situation where their insurance premiums go up to the point where their planned housing budgets get thrown completely out the window.  I have several buyers who, after qualifying for Citizens for their purchase, were contacted a couple of months after they closed to be told that they need another inspection or were dropped when their policy came up for renewal.

For the 31.4% of homeowners in Florida with mortgages under water, and the 10.1% of those who are 90 days behind on their mortgages, the current and proposed changes, are just one more huge financial hurdle for them to overcome.

Several issues were raised during the round table that need addressing:

1) Currently, Citizens offers more than just windstorm insurance.  Why the state should be insuring against a home’s plumbing leaks and other non-nature related claims, which happen more frequently than “the big one” is beyond me.  Citizens should only be for windstorm and maybe sinkhole insurance.

2) Although there have been way more storms in northern Florida counties, and all 67 counties in the state are prone to a direct hit,  the southern counties would be paying much higher premiums for same priced properties.

3)  Citizens got rid of the appraisal value for another mechanism of figuring out replacement value, even though their mechanism results in significantly higher replacement costs and therefore higher premiums.

4) Citizens has spent a huge amount of money in legal fees fighting claims.  If the claims are fraudulent, I am all for it, but it appears these are claims that they are supposed to be paying.

5) The need for national disaster insurance coverage that covers all natural disasters from flooding to tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes.  If you look at the map from NOAA below, most states along the Gulf and east Coast have been hit by hurricanes.  I wonder what their states’ insurance looks like?


If you are looking for reliable insurance agents who are well informed on the current and proposed changes to Citizens and who have other insurers available, contact Phil Lyons at Insource or Alvaro Murillo at Macpherson Insurance Agency.  Please share your comments and concerns regarding Citizens insurance.  The Miami and Florida Association of Realtors are following this issue very closely.  You can also send your suggestions to Citizens at [email protected].

Florida Life Hurricanes

Hurricane Season Has Arrived

Okay, I know the Heat are hot in their NBA playoffs and tonight’s game against the Celtics is the talk of our town, but it is June 1st and the start of hurricane season.  Actually, the season got off to an early start with two named storms already in May.  Please take the time before a hurricane is on the radar and follow the tips in the Miami-Dade County Hurricane Preparedness Guide


Will Association Fees and Hurricane Insurance Derail Housing Recovery in Florida?

Two recent articles in the Miami Herald have me wondering if our fragile South Florida housing recovery is going to hit the skids.  The one in Monday’s business section talks about condo association fees and the one in today’s paper discusses the increase in windstorm insurance.  if you are getting ready to buy, make sure you keep both of these articles in mind and allow an extra cushion for increases.  If you already own, have either of these costs gone up for you yet?


Hurricane Season Starts Today

Based on NOAA’s predictions, this will be a busy hurricane season.  South Florida is always on the ready, but it has been a while since we have had a hurricane in Miami-Dade County so, if you need to dust off your hurricane plans, do it now.

Hurricanes Resources

Preparing for a Hurricane – A Way of Life in South Florida

If you recently moved from outside of a hurricane zone, you are in for some excitement and new lessons from Mother Nature.  Hurricane season officially starts June 1 and storms can approach rapidly, so it pays to inform yourself on what you need to do now to be ready when a storm approaches.  The good thing about a hurricane, compared to other natural occurrences such as earthquakes and tornadoes, is that you did get warning and have time to safeguard yourself, your property, pets, and family.  Believe me, having lived through several, it pays to be prepared!

This year, Hurricane Preparedness Week will be held May 24 through May 30.  NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, conveniently located in South Florida, has a comprehensive hurricane plan.

Even though you may remember the pictures of Louisiana after Katrina, take the time to watch the video below to see the damage a storm is capable of.  Hurricane Wilma came toward the end of the season and still managed to do quite a bit of damage to South Florida