Florida to Help Prepare Homes for Hurricanes

By Tim Leljedal
6:40pm August 15, 2006

The last two hurricane seasons showed Floridians all too painfully how vulnerable homes are when they’re not built to withstand high winds.

A brand new state program lets you apply for a free inspection to help you hurricane-proof your house for relatively little money.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher says you’d also get a break on your insurance premiums once you beef up your house.

"This is a chance for homeowners to make their homes stronger against storms and save money on their insurance at the same time," he said.

Some homeowners will also be eligible for matching grants to help them pay for repairs.

State Farm Insurance Vice President Joe Formusa attended the program’s kickoff at the Capitol. He called it a step in the right direction toward addressing Florida’s insurance crisis.

"We’d have a lot less losses, a lot less headaches, and that’s in everyone’s best interest, and of course it works better for the companies too because we wouldn’t charge as much in premiums."

The inspection program will start in Broward, Dade and Lee Counties. It will eventually roll out statewide, but high risk areas will be first on the list.

Gov. Jeb Bush is very concerned that the free inspections and grants not just be a one-time, coastal program. He wants it to be available every year to homeowners in all parts of the state.

Lawmakers set aside $250 million for the program, which is only enough for the first year.

"I think we need to think big and think forever rather than think about this as a one-time deal," Gov. Jeb Bush said.

This first rollout will provide inspections to 50,000 homeowners.