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Is it worth it to upgrade my roof tie-down hurricane straps for a better wind mitigation insurance discount?
Monday, December 21, 2020
You lose a big discount—up to 35% off your windstorm insurance cost—if the inspector marks the box for Toe Nails on Section 4 - Roof To Wall Attachment of Florida's wind mitigation inspection form (Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form, OIR-B1-1802). It does not necessarily mean that your roof has been toe-nailed to the wall below, although most pre-1960 houses are done that way. But it does indicate that the roof structure connection is inadequate by today’s standards. See our blog post What does toe-nailing mean? if you are not familiar with the term.
When you have a wood roof structure like most homes, then it must meet the following four criteria for the discount:
- A metal connector clip or strap must be installed from the wall to every truss or rafter.
- The connector must be attached to the truss or rafter with a minimum of three nails.
- Less than 1/2” sideways gap between connection points.
- No visible severe corrosion of the connectors.
The inspector must rate it based on the weakest connection. So if it doesn’t meet all these standards, even if only at one or two locations, the discount is voided and the inspector must mark the connection as equivalent to toe nailed.
It is possible to do a retrofit and upgrade the connections to get the discount and there are contractors around Florida that specialize in it. The fix can be as simple as adding a third nail to each truss or rafter connection in the attic, or as complicated as having to remove the soffit all around the house and installing new connectors from outside, then replacing the soffit. The price can vary between $1,000 and $4,000-plus.
Is the cost worth it? There are two factors to consider. The first is the number of years it will take for the insurance discount to pay back how much you spent, which may be more than a decade in some cases. But the second factor is the hurricane-resistance of your house. Upgrading the connection means you roof is much less likely to blow off or suffer severe damage in a hurricane, and what that additional level of safety for your home and your family is worth to you.
Although the maximum discount allowed for roof-to-wall connections is about 35%, it can be much less—depending on the insurance company and the other hurricane-resistant details of your home. So, if cost savings and payback time are your primary concern, check with your insurance agent first for the approximate dollar savings for the upgrade.
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