Pinellas county was largely developed during the 1950s and 1960s. So, when you’re looking around to buy a house in the Tampa Bay area, you’re most likely going to purchase a home that is at least 30 years old. Although, most homes we see can get insurance, the coverage and price you will pay for homeowners insurance are usually dependent on the characteristics of your home.
Most of the issues that we see are highlighted on a 4-point inspection report. This report is a summary of what your home inspector finds from the much larger home inspection report. Most carriers in the state of Florida, require one of these reports to bind coverage on homes that are older than 30 years old.
Older Home Insurance Issues:
#1 Older Roofs
The most common issue we see is older roofs. Depending on the type and shape, most insurance carriers in Florida have age maximums for which they will provide insurance. Typically, if the roof is older than that specified age, then the carrier will not offer insurance on your home.
The roof is the most important part of your home. Without the roof, the structure has the ability to collapse. Also, damaged roofs are more prone to water and mold damage issues. Flat roofs are susceptible to water pooling, which over time typically results in roof leaking.
It’s important to note that our agency is able to shop coverages with multiple markets that have different roof guidelines, so while your shingle roof that is 15 years old may be ineligible with 1 carrier, it still could be eligible with another one of our insurance markets.
Typical maximum roof ages:
- Flat (Membrane/Rolled): 10 years
- Shingles – 3 Tab: 15 years
- Shingles – Architectural: 20 years
- Metal: 30 years
- Tile: 30 years
#2 Aluminum Wiring
In the mid-1960s copper prices were surging, so many builders were looking for a more cost-effective way of wiring homes. The answer to many, was aluminum wiring. However, by the 1970s issues started to arise with the aluminum wiring.
Downsides of Aluminum wiring:
- Aluminum is much softer than copper wiring naturally. Being soft, the wiring was prone to damage, leading to hot spots and overheating.
- When aluminum wiring is heated it expands and when it is cooled in contracts. The tightness of the wiring decreases with each cycle. Over time his can result and loose connections and overheating
- While copper wire rust is still conductive, aluminum wiring rust is not. This causes electricity interference and can lead to overheating
If you have aluminum wiring in your home without proper remediation actions taken, it is probably uninsurable. However, many carriers now are ok with aluminum wiring as long as the home has been remediated with 1 of the following 2 methods. Remediation means replacing/repairing all connections in your home including the outlets, switches, dimmers, fixtures, appliances, and junction boxes.
- AlumiConn connectors
- AlumiConn connectors coat aluminum wires with a thin layer of silicone sealant to provide resistance from oxidation, and use set screws to break up surface oxides
- COPALUM crimping
- With COPALUM crimping an electrician attaches a short section of copper wire to the ends of an aluminum wire using a metal COPALUM connector. This method is typically more costly than AlumiConn connectors
#3 Knob & Tube (K&T) Wiring
Knob and tube wiring was an early method used to wire homes from the 1880s to the 1940s. Knob and tube has only a black (hot) and white (neutral) wire that are protected by rubber insulation. However, there are no ground wires present, which can increase the chance of shorts and electrical fires. The wiring can also be dangerous as over time, the rubber insulation can decay exposing the wires to air and moisture, which can also lead to shorts and wires. Every admitted market that we work with will not insure homes with this type of wiring. So if you want coverage for your home, it typically requires a complete re-wiring.
#4 Galvanized Plumbing
When galvanized pipes were created, they were thought of as a cheaper alternative for lead. Galvanized pipes are steel pipes that are dipped in a protective zinc coating, that was supposed to prevent corrosion and rust. The pipes worked fine for a number of years, but after a number of years the pipes started started to corrode from the interior. These pipes were common in older homes that were built prior to the 1960s, so we don’t see that much in Pinellas county, but there are a few areas where they are common.
Most insurers we work with do not like galvanized pipes at all. Some try to limit their exposure to the pipe damage by limiting their water losses to $10k, while others may exclude all water damage. That being said, we do have a few carriers that are willing to write coverage as long as the inspection report shows no plumbing issues.
#5 Polybutylene Plumbing
Polybutylene is a type of plastic resin, that was thought of as a “pipe of the future,” and another cheaper alternative to copper. The piping was used extensively from the late 1970s until the early 1990s.
The problem with polybutylene plumbing is the way that certain chemicals in our water supply, such as chlorine, react with the pipes. Over time the pipes start to flake and become brittle, which often results in significant water damage.
We don’t often come across this plumbing in Pinellas county, but when we do it is often more difficult to place, than homes with galvanized plumbing. Most carriers require that all water damage be excluded.
#6 Bad Electrical Panels
Most insurance companies in the state of Florida have a “bad panel list.” Typically, insurance carriers require that the bad panel be replaced before they will insure a home.
What are the most common bad electrical panels?
- Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Panel with Stab-Lok Breakers
- FPE panels were sold between the 1950s and 1980s in millions of homes. Unfortunately, the panels can fail to trip in response to an over-current, leading to electrical fires. There have also been instances when circuit breakers in the off position still send power the circuit, which may lead to electrocution.
- Zinsco, Sylvania Zinsco, and GTE- Sylvania Panels
- These panels were common in homes built in the 1970s. Like the Federal Pacific panels, they can fail trip in response to over-currents. Other issues involve both arcing and burn-ups at the connection point of the breaker and panel bus bar.
#7 Asbestos Siding
Asbestos siding is an exterior building siding that was common on houses built from the 1920s to 1960s. The siding was made by combining asbestos with Portland cement. Asbestos siding was cheaper, and the material was flexible and more fire resistive than many exterior siding alternatives. The siding is typically not dangerous unless it is damaged, such as in a house fire or hurricane. When the siding is damaged, fibers can be released into the air which can lead to certain cancers, such as mesothelioma. Most carriers are not willing to take the risk, but we do have 1 market that will accept the risk of asbestos siding.
Insuring your older home in Florida can be a difficult task. At Insurance Resources, our licensed agents are highly familiar with the Florida homeowner’s insurance market and all its nuances. Our agents always review our carrier guidelines prevent issues after the policy goes into effect.
If you have any questions about insurance for on your home or rental property, please contact our office at 727-345-0242 or email Brian Ford, CPCU, CIC at [email protected].