Florida homeowners insurance rates are rising. How can you protect your home and save?

Florida homeowners insurance has been on the rise in the past year as more than a dozen insurance companies pull out of the state or file for liquidation.

Homeowners have been shocked to discover premiums skyrocketing to double or triple their previous rates. Many others have received cancellations, prompting an influx of customers migrating to state-backed Citizens Insurance Company.

Homeowners are now scrambling for ways to save money on their insurance premiums and find practical ways to safeguard their homes during a hurricane.

Hurricane clips for roofs are a way to kill two birds with one stone. If your roof doesn’t have them already, they can help catch you up with Florida Building Code and save a hefty chunk of change.

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What are hurricane clips?

Hurricane clips, also known as hurricane straps or ties, are pieces of hardware designed to add reinforcement to a building's structure against strong winds and storms. These steel, corrosion-resistant devices fortify the connection between a building's roof and walls and provide essential reinforcement that prevents roofs from detaching during high winds.

Are hurricane clips necessary in Florida?

While not legally required everywhere, hurricane clips are required in Florida homes built after 2001. If the home is insured for $300,000 or more, the hurricane clips also need to have three or more nails securing them.

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Can hurricane clips be installed on existing roofs?

While the process is more straightforward and cost-effective during construction, existing roofs can be retrofitted with hurricane clips. This process may involve removing parts of the interior wall covering to expose the stud-to-rafter or truss-to-wall connection, which the clips can then reinforce.

Impact of hurricane clips on insurance

Adding hurricane clips to your roof can lead to saving between 20% and 50% on your homeowners insurance premium, according to Kin Insurance. However, those savings will depend on your insurance company.

If you know your home doesn’t already have hurricane clips, you can call your insurance company to see how much upgrading could save you.

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To receive discounts, you’ll have to get a wind mitigation inspection, which is different from a roof inspection, home inspection and a 4-point inspection. This inspection will take a look at the wind-mitigating features of your home, such as whether your roof has hurricane clips installed, if there is secondary water resistance installed and even the shape of the roof. All of these factors play into how much money homeowners can save.

Other ways to hurricane-proof your home

Hurricanes are mind-bogglingly destructive. Their power is equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t practical ways you can increase your home’s storm resiliency.

FEMA has put together a helpful list of ways you can protect your home against hurricane damage, most of which won’t break the bank.

  • Replace gravel or rock landscaping materials with a fire-resistant material that is lighter and won't cause as much harm.

  • Cut weak branches and trees that could fall on your house and keep shrubbery trimmed.

  • Install storm shutters to protect your windows from breaking. Alternately, fit plywood panels to your windows, which can be nailed to window frames when a storm approaches.

  • Make sure exterior doors are hurricane-proof and have at least three hinges and a deadbolt lock that is at least one inch long.

  • Sliding glass doors should be made of tempered glass and, during a storm, covered with shutters or plywood. These types of doors are more vulnerable to wind damage than most other doors.

  • Replace old garage doors and tracks with a door that is approved for both wind pressure and impact protection. Wind coming into your home through an opening this large poses grave problems for the rest of your home — especially your roof.

  • Seal outside wall openings such as vents, outdoor electrical outlets, garden hose bibs and locations where cables or pipes go through the wall. Use a high-quality urethane-based caulk to prevent water penetration.

  • If you live in a mobile home, make sure you know how to secure it against high winds, and be sure to review your mobile home insurance policy. Mobile homes are not safe in high winds, and you will need to move to a safer place before a storm hits. Always follow the advice of your local community officials.

  • If you have a boat on a trailer, know how to anchor the trailer to the ground or house — and review your boat insurance policy.

This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Florida homeowners insurance: How to cut costs and protect your home