New Florida Law Helps Protect Homes, Prep for Disasters and Reduce Insurance Costs

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New Florida Law Helps Protect Homes, Prep for Disasters and Reduce Insurance Costs

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed into law House Bill 7071, which provides more than $1.2 billion of tax relief for Floridians, including $150 million for the My Safe Florida Home Program that aims to protect homes from hurricane damage and lower insurance costs.

The new law implements significant property insurance reforms meant to increase insurance claim transparency and crack down on insurance fraud and frivolous lawsuits, in an effort to stabilize rising insurance costs and insurer losses. The bill provides a $2 billion in reinsurance relief through the Reinsurance to Assist Policy (RAP) program over the next two years. A one pager on the insurance reforms can be found here.

The bipartisan legislation, which passed the House and Senate in March and was signed into law on May 6, also provides 10 sales tax holidays this year, including the following:

  • A two-year sales tax holiday from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2024, for impact resistant windows, doors and garage doors, providing $442.8 million in tax relief.
  • A 14-day disaster preparedness sales tax holiday from May 28 through June 10 for supplies such as flashlights, radios, tarps, batteries, household pet food and fire extinguishers ($25.6 million in tax relief).
  • A seven-day sales tax holiday from Sep. 3 through Sep. 9 for tools and other home improvement items ($12.4 million).
  • A one-year sales tax holiday from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023, for Energy Star appliances such as washing machines, clothes dryers, water heaters, and refrigerators ($78.5 million).

Qualifying disaster preparedness supplies include:

  • Pet leashes, collars, muzzles and pads costing $20 or less.
  • Flashlights, lanterns and pet beds costing $40 or less.
  • Batteries and weather radios costing $50 or less.
  • Smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers costing $70 or less.
  • Tarps and portable pet kennels costing $100 or less.
  • Generators costing $1,000 or less.

A full list of eligible tax-free items is available here.

The Right Time to Install Impact Resistant Windows and Doors

The new law grants homeowners a two-year tax exemption for impact resistant windows, doors and garage doors for residential properties starting on July 1.

Impact resistant windows and doors help protect people, homes and other property from hurricane conditions such as high winds, torrential rains, flying debris and air pressure changes. Some insurance policies offer discounts to homeowners who install impact resistant windows and doors.

My Safe Florida Home

The bill revives the My Safe Florida Home program, which ran from 2006 to 2008 and which gives homeowners up to $10,000 to harden their homes through a process of free home inspections, inspectors’ recommendations and grants to upgrade their windows, doors and roofs.

While it will take time—lawmakers say at least 18 months—for insurance rates to drop, if at all, the new law’s short-term measures could relieve some of the fallout from the insurance crisis:

  • It prohibits insurers from refusing to insure a home with a roof that is less than 15 years old solely because of the roof’s age. For roofs 15 years or older, the homeowner can request an inspection to get insured. The bill also allows a roof with more than 25% damage to be repaired instead of being required to be replaced.
  • It creates a new $2 billion fund for reinsurance (insurance that insurers buy) to help some companies stay afloat ahead of storm season. Recipient companies would be required to lower rates.
  • It limits the amount attorneys can collect in lawsuits against insurance companies, which officials say is at least partly to blame for rising rates.

It is not yet clear how and when Floridians can apply for the program.

What’s Different in 2022

The new plan is limited to homesteaded homes with insured values of less than $500,000, the same limit that was established in 2006, but home values have risen significantly since then. In April, the median sales price for single-family homes was $565,000 in Miami-Dade County and $560,000 in Broward County, the Miami Herald reported.

In 2006, lawmakers assigned $250 million for the program, good for nearly 400,000 home inspections and upgrades on about 32,000 homes. This year, lawmakers assigned $150 million, which would upgrade 11,500 homes at the maximum $10,000 each ($35 million goes to inspections, education campaigns and administrative costs).

To qualify for the program, the homes also have to be in the state’s wind-borne debris region, a roughly U-shaped region in the southern half of the state, the far northwest Panhandle and some coastal areas.

The 2022 version of the program does offer additional benefits. Under the new program, eligible homeowners may receive $2 from the state for every $1 they spend, up to $10,000, to harden their home. In 2006, they received $1 for each dollar spent on upgrades up to $5,000.

Get Ready for Hurricane Season

The 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, is underway, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration it’s going to be a busy one. On May 27, the NOAA predicted an “above normal” season, expecting 14-21 storms to form, with at least 10 of them potential hurricanes and three to six of these becoming major hurricanes.

Florida, Gulf and Caribbean homeowners are more likely to be on the path of a major hurricane than other homeowners. Therefore, they should to do their best to follow disaster preparedness recommendations and protect their homes and families with impact resistant windows and doors.

Air Master Windows and Doors’ impact resistant windows and doors have earned Miami-Dade NOA certification and meet Florida Product Approval standards. They are designed to resist Category 5 hurricane winds, heavy rains, flying debris and air pressure changes. To learn more about our impact resistant products, contact us.