Time for hurricane season insurance check-up

By Chuck Weber email

DELRAY BEACH, FL (WFLX)-It's the first week of hurricane season. Do you have enough insurance on your home? On the other hand, are you paying too much?

One of the easiest ways to save on your windstorm bill is a home inspection. Shutters and newer, sturdier construction methods will save you money.

Steven Pitts of AAA Auto Club Insurance in Delray Beach, and a 40-year veteran of the business, says now is the time to review your policies and coverage, and arrange for an inspection. He says make sure you insure for the replacement value, not market value-- which could easily be lower because of the fall in housing prices.

A higher deductible can also save money, but Pitts says be careful of setting one that's too high. "With premiums being higher, many people have taken much higher deductibles," said Pitts. "But with incomes being lower for many families, it might be something you might need to look at." Combining different kinds of coverage with one company often produces a savings, Pitts adds.

Windstorm premiums are rising again. You may have already received your new Citizens bill with a rate increase.

And rates are going even higher. The state legislature just approved Citizens windstorm hikes of 10 percent a year until the insurer has enough money to sustain itself.

Other companies are raising rates too. And under the new legislation, after a catastrophic storm, all policy holders will be hit with an assessment.

When will average homeowners say, "it's too much?" Jeff Goldberg, who owns a home east of I-95 in Delray Beach, says he has no intention of leaving his neighborhood. But he adds, "at some point, we may have to decide whether we just grin and bear it, or we just can't live here any more. We're hoping that doesn't happen any time soon."

Insurers say they simply need adequate rates to sustain their businesses over the long haul.