News & Updates


More paperwork will be required of homeowners seeking discount

By Paul Flemming • Florida Capital News •
March 10, 2010

Homeowners can still get insurance discounts for
hurricane clips and window shutters, they’ll just
have to file more paperwork to get them.

It’s a change sought by the insurance industry, part
of addressing what companies say is a financial
squeeze of low rates exacerbated by fraudulent

“Criminals are very ambitious and they’ll find a way
to commit fraud, and there’s no way that a form can
stop all of it,” said Belinda Miller, deputy director of
the Office of Insurance Regulation. “But our goal
here is to make it easier to detect and harder to do.”

The rule approved by the Florida Cabinet on
Tuesday amends a form from a two-page version to
four pages that requires signatures and property
address on each page along with photos to prove
the construction elements that make homes
stronger. It fixes a system ripe for fraud that was set
in motion by the Cabinet and legislature when they
approved a short form for documentation and called
for inspectors certified by a state program that no
longer exists.

The old two-page form to get discounts from
insurance companies calls for the signature of an
inspector certified by the state’s My Safe Florida
Home agency, a program that hasn’t been funded in
two years and ceased to exist in June 2009. Now,
licensed architects, engineers and builders are
required to sign off on the work eligible for

My Safe Florida Home was established to encourage
hurricane hardening and distribute grants for
mitigation, in combination with legislation that
required companies to better explain and publicize
discounts available to policyholders while also
doubling the maximum discounts companies were
required to offer. The state program conducted
400,000 free inspections and doled out 35,000
grants to homeowners to harden homes, but tight
budgets ended the program in 2009.

In 2007, legislation doubled the discounts
indicated in rate filings. The discounts vary by
company, but can be significant. Improvements that
qualify for a discount include shutters over
openings, hurricane clips and code-approved

The insurance industry has said some companies
are showing underwriting losses even during non-
hurricane years and have included rampant
discounts from hurricane mitigation among the
reasons premiums are inadequate.

Miller said likely fraud has been noticed, if not

“There was one case where the insurance company
was literally getting copies of the same form for
most” of a company’s submissions for discounts,
Miller said.

The insurance industry says mitigation discounts
have run rampant and reduce their ability to make

“Insurers need to take advantage of years when the
wind doesn’t blow, so they can pay claims in the
years when it does,” said Jeff Grady, president of the
Florida Association of Insurance Agents, in a
legislative session policy report the insurance
council issued.