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Opinion
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Guest Column
Floridians shouldn’t have to choose between insuring their home or having solar panels | Column
Some homeowners worry that installing rooftop panels may make their homes more expensive to insure — or worse, not insurable at all. There’s a better way.
 
Residents shouldn’t have to choose between getting insurance and investing in solar panels, the authors write.
Residents shouldn’t have to choose between getting insurance and investing in solar panels, the authors write. [ SUSAN STOCKER / SOUTH FLORIDA | South Florida Sun-Sentinel ]
Published June 10, 2023

Florida is mostly paradise with a significant dash of peril thrown in, but it’s the dash that is motivating homeowners in the Sunshine State to prepare for the next hurricane and make their homes more resilient.

However, as solar power becomes more popular, some homeowners worry that installing rooftop panels may make their homes more expensive to insure — or worse, not insurable at all. Many of our neighbors have been losing their coverage lately — seemingly without any explanation. In truth, Florida’s insurance industry has struggled lately for several reasons, and that has caused many home insurers to tighten their underwriting guidelines. The result? Some may have less appetite for insuring homes with solar panels.

Heaven Campbell
Heaven Campbell [ Provided ]

Residents shouldn’t have to choose between getting insurance and investing in solar panels. In fact, Philip Fairey, deputy director of the Florida Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida, says that concerns about storm damage to panels are “overblown” and that they are “beneficial, not detrimental.” In addition, adding solar panels and a battery to store the excess electricity that is generated can be a smart investment to provide power after a hurricane passes — and even prove lifesaving for our aging population or those with medical necessities.

Angel Conlin
Angel Conlin [ Provided ]

All of these reasons are why the nonprofit Solar United Neighbors of Florida and Kin Insurance have joined together to educate consumers about the benefits of solar and help connect homeowners with insurance options. As Kin Insurance CEO Sean Harper recently stated in an Ask Me Anything on Reddit, Kin doesn’t cancel or decline homes that have solar panels.

Homeowners choose to install solar for a variety of reasons. One of the most popular? People look at rooftop solar as a way to combat historically high energy costs. That plus a 30% federal tax credit make solar attractive to many homeowners.

One way homeowners save money with solar is through net metering. This is a billing methodology that credits a solar homeowner for any excess energy produced, sent back to the grid, and shared with their neighbors. This policy makes rooftop solar an easy and affordable way for most families to lower their utility bills.

Innovative and technology-savvy insurers prioritize people and are choosing to offer coverage for homes with solar. Generally, solar panels can extend a roof’s life as they protect it from external elements like rain, debris, wind and prolonged sun exposure. They also make your property more energy-efficient in the summer as the hot sun is not beating down on your roof directly but instead is absorbed by the panels, ensuring cooler interiors.

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To be clear, no one is saying rooftop solar is a substitute for any of the other wind mitigation steps Florida homeowners should be taking. When solar is installed by licensed professionals, and in conjunction with energy efficiency, homeowners can enjoy lower electricity bills and quality home insurance.

The increasing frequency and severity of hurricanes make it essential that Floridians be able to find reasonable coverage for their homes. As the nation’s fastest-growing state, Florida needs to ensure that insurance coverage is available so homeownership remains attractive and attainable. Luckily, there are still many insurance options available to homeowners, including insurers that proudly welcome solar homeowners with open arms.

Our future relies on encouraging more homeowners and businesses to adopt solar technology. Together, we can connect more communities to solar and build a more resilient energy system.

Heaven Campbell is the Florida Program Director for Solar United Neighbors, a national nonprofit that helps homeowners go solar, join together and fight for their energy rights. She wants to help grow a sustainable solar market that benefits all Floridians. Angel Conlin, chief insurance officer at Kin, has over 20 years of property and casualty insurance experience in large and small companies.