Published: Aug 27, 2014 4:22 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 27, 2014 6:59 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. Home insurance is one of the priciest bills you'll pay each year. But, did you know you could easily slash it by 30, even 50-percent? All it takes is a few quick fixes.

The key here is wind mitigation: keeping your home in one piece during a storm. A hammer and a few extra nails can save you hundreds, even thousands each year on your insurance premiums. We're learning, not many people know about it.

Each morning, the Maximum Solutions crew gears up with gloves, head lights and masks. Inside attics, it's the closest thing you'll see to snow in southwest Florida, as they crawl through white insulation.     

To most people, the pounding hammer sounds like construction. But, to homeowners like John Pelusi of Fort Myers, it sounds like money being saved. "I will save approximately $1,000 on my homeowner's," Pelusi said. "That's a lot of money."
     
That savings comes year after year. So, how does it work? Back in 2012, the Florida Wind Mitigation Form changed, requiring hurricane straps, which hold the roof and wall together, to have three nails instead of two.

"We check each one and make sure each one is correct," said company owner Alex Moriarty.

They add the third nail if it's missing. "The state average is about 39% of their policy so it's a huge savings," Moriarty said. "That's the main thing it saves, is the uplift from hurricane winds. It's going to keep your roof attached to your house."

These days, the company is staying busy. "We've done about 600 houses so far in the last year and a half," Moriarty said.

It typically costs between $800-900 dollars for the fix.  But, it eventually pays for itself. "It looks like just from getting these straps put on, I'm probably going to be saving almost $2500 a year," homeowner Noelle Tietz said.

Over ten years, that's $25,000. According to the Florida Department of Finance, 15-70% of your insurance premium could be related to wind-damage risk. WINK News checked and the state actually requires insurance companies to give you discounts or credits for protecting your home. So, ask!

"It's really something people don't realize they can do," Matt Brown of Culbertson Agency in Fort Myers.

Home inspectors check categories like building code, roof geometry and roof-to-wall attachment. Another big way to save? Have them certify your hurricane shutters. "They would just take a look at the shutters, make sure they are wind rated, fill out the form, get it to us, and typically, it would save them about $120-180 dollars," Brown said. "It costs $40 so it's better than Vegas odds for sure."

Save your home, save your money. It's a win-win. "I guess i am one of the lucky ones," Tietz said."I am going to save over 50%."

Remember, mitigation inspections must be certified by a state-qualified inspector. Here are the guidelines:

(2)(a) The Financial Services Commission shall develop by rule a uniform mitigation verification inspection form that shall be used by all insurers when submitted by policyholders for the purpose of factoring discounts for wind insurance. In developing the form, the commission shall seek input from insurance, construction, and building code representatives. Further, the commission shall provide guidance as to the length of time the inspection results are valid. An insurer shall accept as valid a uniform mitigation verification form signed by the following authorized mitigation inspectors:
1. A home inspector licensed under s. 468.8314 who has completed at least 3 hours of hurricane mitigation training approved by the Construction Industry Licensing Board which includes hurricane mitigation techniques and compliance with the uniform mitigation verification form and completion of a proficiency exam;
2. A building code inspector certified under s. 468.607;
3. A general, building, or residential contractor licensed under s. 489.111;
4. A professional engineer licensed under s. 471.015;
5. A professional architect licensed under s. 481.213; or
6. Any other individual or entity recognized by the insurer as possessing the necessary qualifications to properly complete a uniform mitigation verification form.
(b) An insurer may, but is not required to, accept a form from any other person possessing qualifications and experience acceptable to the insurer.

You can find the Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form at: http://www.floir.com/siteDocuments/OIR-B1-1802eff02012012.pdf

For more information on the fix, contact Maximum Solutions at:
239-851-8350
855-344-7595
www.Thirdnail.com
Maximumsolutions1@yahoo.com