Will ‘My Safe Florida Home’ save you money on insurance?

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — So many viewers tell 8 On Your Side the cost of property insurance is soul-crushing.

This month, 8 On Your Side told you about a state program that promises rate relief for those who harden their homes.

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis says on average, homeowners save a $1,000 a year on their premium.

But one Tampa Bay policyholder who completed the program tells Investigator Mahsa Saeidi he didn’t save a penny.

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The program is called My Safe Florida Home or MSFH program and here’s how it works.

The state helps foot the bill to upgrade your windows, doors and roof.

Applicant Glenn McKiel says he spent approximately $5,000. The state also gave him about $10,000.

But after it was all said and done, his premium didn’t budge.

Mr. McKiel is grateful his South Pasadena home is hardened against hurricanes.

“So these are actual new hurricane rated windows,” McKiel told 8 On Your Side.

The new windows replaced ones that were 60 years old. It’s part of the reason McKiel signed up for the MSFH program.

But McKiel wasn’t just trying to protect his property. He also wanted to protect his pocketbook.

“My premium has gone up 300% in four years. And we’re anticipating another close to 100% increase this year on premiums,” said McKiel.

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Like dozens of homeowners 8 On Your Side has profiled, McKiel was seeking savings. For years, we’ve seen lawmakers make reforms but families never see rate relief.

In recent months, state leaders, including CFO Patronis have promised the program can help.

Mr. Patronis reasserted that claim during the Special Session on Israel in Tallahassee on Nov. 6.

“The average participant in the My Safe Florida Home program is seeing their premium drop by a thousand dollars a year,” said Patronis.

“What I heard from the folks in Tally on a previous Channel 8 report was that the average savings was around $1,000 a year. So, it was my hope that maybe over five years, seven years I could recoup that $5,000,” said McKiel.

Before the program, McKiel’s premium was $2,388. After the program, it was $2,388.

“I got nothing. I was expecting something,” he said.

In an email, McKiel’s insurance agent writes in part the “carrier received the wind mitigation inspection report and processed it, unfortunately it did not lower your annual premium…”

“I’m not sure I would have entered into the program had I known that we were not going to get an insurance discounts we were initially lead to believe,” said McKiel.

We wondered how many McKiel’s are there? Legislative data we covered shows 3,021 homeowners have completed the MSFH program thus far. But only about half of them, 1,562 homeowners reported a discount. That’s according to a legislative analysis of a bill that just boosted funding for the MSFH program.

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So, what happened to the premium of all the other applicants? By our count, 1,459 homeowners?

In a statement, the CFO’s Office says in part “Premium savings reporting… is voluntary, so the remaining participants simply did not report back…”

So that $1,000 discount the CFO was touting at Special Session was solely based on voluntary reporting and it doesn’t give homeowners a complete picture of the discount they may receive after forking out thousands of dollars.

Patronis’ Office also says while the discount varies, all homeowners get a benefit by hardening their home.

If you have a question, tip or comment, email Mahsa at MSaeidi@WFLA.com

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