Over the past three weeks, Iâ€™ve been distracted by a home improvement project. My brother, a master electrician and all-around craftsman, decided to swap the Chicago cold for Floridaâ€™s version of winter to tackle a remodel of our master bathroom. Knocking down the drywall in our stuck-in-the-80s shower enclosure revealed that there was no insulation between the cement block exterior walls and the interior drywall. Maybe that was okay in 1985 when our home was constructed (but I doubt it!), and it got me thinking about how little I know about changing building codes and the building weâ€™ve called home for the past 20 years. Ambiguity about home construction has been linked to higher property insurance rates.
A survey of actuaries and underwriters by the Wharton Risk Center at the University of Pennsylvania found that insurers would charge 25 percent higher premiums for ambiguous risks than for risks in which the likelihood and consequences of damage were more specific. In other words, when you know exactly what youâ€™re dealing with, you can price insurance to match the risk. It has been stated that prior to Hurricane Andrew, insurers did not know how significant losses could be â€“ and with all the growth in Florida since Andrewâ€™s landfall in 1992, insured losses related to another major storm would be equally hard to fathom.
You can learn more about your home with a comprehensive home inspection and, in Florida, you also need a wind inspection. Your property insurance company may have a list of approved wind inspectors, so call your insurer first. The wind inspection differs from a home inspection in that it tells you how well your home can stand up to hurricane-force winds. Check out the mitigation education videos to learn more.