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State-Run Website Gives Choices For Homeowner Insurance In Florida

By Mike Heuer

When it comes to finding affordable homeowner insurance in Florida, the task can be formidable. Because the state is one of the most prone to storm damages as well as sinkholes and other weather-borne perils, many property and casualty insurers are hesitant to underwrite the homeowner insurance Florida residents need to protect their homes.

But state officials have taken steps to make it easier to find good deals on homeowner insurance in Florida.

Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation has created a website residents and property owners can use to find homeowners insurance and auto insurance in the Sunshine State. Called “CHOICES,” which stands for the Consumer HomeOwners Insurance Comparison Electronic System, the site gives information on the average rates property and casualty insurers charge for auto insurance and homeowner insurance Florida residents need to drive legally and keep their homes insured against a variety of perils.

To use the site, consumers must log on to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation site and go to the CHOICES page. They can click on either the auto insurance link or the homeowners insurance link, which takes them to a Web page featuring a map of the state with each county indicated by a different color. Clicking on their respective counties of residence then informs them of which insurers underwrite auto or homeowners insurance coverage and the average rates charged.

A popup window will list insurance companies and their coverages provided by rank from highest to lowest and gives the contact information for each insurer listed. That helps consumers determine which ones have relatively affordable rates and enables them to assess the levels of coverage provided. Motorists and homeowners also can use information from the site to find more information on financial strength ratings from third party organizations, such as A.M. Best and Fitch, and get a better idea of which ones truly are the best insurers with which they should do business.

The site also illustrates how homeowners can obtain rate discounts on their policies for homeowner insurance in Florida from each insurer. A mitigation form can be filled out by consumers and tell the relative cost of initiating the steps and how much of a discount they might get from each property and casualty insurer listed. Using the site helps determine what ultimately might be the best deal for homeowners and help them make fully informed decisions when buying a new homeowners insurance plan or thinking of renewing their current policies.

Motorists also can learn about potential discounts as well as rates and other information on their potential policies. And when bundling auto and home insurance plans with the same property and casualty insurer, it’s possible to save a great deal of money on both policies while maintaining the types of protection needed to drive legally and keep homes protect against the many perils they face in the Sunshine State. From sinkholes to tornadoes to tidal surges and wind-driven damage, the threats are many and varied in Florida, and state officials are helping residents and property owners to find their best deals.