A program designed to entice Florida homeowners to pay for improvements to their homes that will make them more resistant to hurricane-force winds is officially open for business.
Homeowners with a homestead exemption can apply with the Department of Financial Services (DFS) for a free home inspection and then can see which wind mitigation improvements would suit their home to qualify for up to $10,000 in grants from the state.
Wind mitigation measures include improvements to a roof to protect against water leaks, roof-to-wall anchoring, and installing hurricane force winds-resistant garage doors and window shutters. A homeowner can qualify for $2 in credits for every $1 they spend, but the grants are capped at $10,000 per homeowner, so a person must spend $5,000 to receive the maximum grant award.
Also, only contractors chosen by DFS to be part of the program can be selected by the homeowner to conduct the work.
Depending on the type of mitigation, the homeowner could receive a reduction in their insurance premium as well.
There are restrictions on who can qualify for the inspections and grants, however. Aside from the homestead exemption, a home must be insured for less than $500,000 and the home must have been built before Jan. 1, 2008.
The Legislature approved the program during a Special Session last May as part of its effort to bolster the flagging property insurance market, which has seen large premium hikes and six companies that have failed, even before Hurricane Ian hit as a Category 4 storm on Sept. 28.
According to DFS, the program had a “soft launch” earlier in the month and has received more than 400 applications for inspections. DFS estimates there will be enough funding to conduct 140,000 to 145,000 inspections and hand out 11,000 to 12,000 grants, based on current funding.