Installing solar panels on your roof can improve your home insurance [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Installing solar panels on your roof can improve your home insurance [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

As energy bills skyrocket and the federal government offers generous tax incentives for renewable energy investments, more and more. Florida Homeowners are seriously considering rooftop solar.

But when calculating the cost of managing energy bills, many would-be solar owners neglect to consider how solar will affect their home insurance bill – or how difficult it may be to find a company that will insure them at all.

And insurance costs are rising for all Florida Homeowners, solar customers who can get help may also find that price increases will wipe out all of their expected savings from going solar.

“It’s very difficult and a lot of people don’t know that most carriers don’t accept solar panels,” he says. Dulce Suarez-Resnickvice president to Miami– a formal organization Acentria Insurance.

Oakland Park landlord Holy Strawbridge learned this the hard way. He installed an 8,000 kilowatt solar system on his home about two years ago and recently signed off Edison Insurance Company. After the insurance agent sent an inspector to his home, he received a letter canceling his entire policy.

“I was shocked,” Strawbridge said. “I have never written an insurance policy and I have lived in this house since 2001.”

Reasons cited in Edison’s denial letter: His solar panels are not eligible for coverage due to the age of his roof (11 years) and because he has a tile roof.

That’s not the only reason insurers won’t cover rooftop solar, according to interviews with solar installers, solar energy advocates, and insurance agents. Insurers who do business internally Florida give different reasons for refusing to have home insurance with them.

Net metering recognized by insurers

Increasingly, insurers say that solar panels that connect to metering and utilities – which are almost all Florida – present a special risk of injury to line workers and damage to the utility grid.

Florida Power & Light’s metering contract requires homeowners to take care of all potential losses, he says. Ryan PappyPalmetto Bay-based president Keyes Insurance. “So if there are surges running on your panels that damage the grid or other buildings, the customer is responsible.”

Solar installers and supporters call that justification baseless. They say all equipment used to connect rooftop solar systems to the grid complies with state building and electrical codes and is inspected by utilities before installation. Agencies also have the power to come to solar owners’ facilities and shut them down if they suspect any safety issues, he says.

Solar advocates wonder if concerns about metering are the reasons insurers are giving for dropping customers.

Most insurance policies that work Florida, in the face of mounting losses, have been dropping or not changing policies to reduce the amount of risk they have on their business books. In some cases, state insurance regulators have ordered insurers to cancel policies in order to purchase reinsurance – the insurance that the insurer must carry to cover all liabilities in the event of a disaster.

Justin Hoysradtpresident of Vinyasun, a solar energy installation company based in West Palm Beachit is said that the dangers of breastfeeding are exaggerated.

Since 2006, all power inverters have followed the UL 1741 electrical standard, Hoysradt said. This standard requires solar system inverters to be able to detect outages or any power outages and disconnect the solar panels from the grid.

Hoysradt says it is not aware of any documented injuries or damage from the UL 1741 certified inverter.

The cutting-edge technology is so reliable that utilities have recently eliminated the requirement that solar panels have closed-loop devices, he said.

Until about a year ago, Hoysradt had never heard from customers complaining that they couldn’t get or keep insurance for their solar panels. Now, one potential customer a day says their insurer won’t guarantee they won’t be covered if they install solar, he said.

Some insurers have told homeowners that net metering makes them commercial products and should no longer be covered by homeowner’s insurance, Heaven Campbell said. Florida program managers for Solar United Neighbors, a national nonprofit that helps solar customers form co-ops to secure better rates.

Campbell says his agency has fielded about 60 landlord complaints in the past year. They either say they were stopped after installing solar panels or were told they no longer needed help if they installed panels, he said.

Insurance covers many issues

Olympus Insurance explained the financial implications of exposure to assets and liabilities in 2020 and wrote and Office of Insurance Regulationwhen they want to agree to exclude the solar planets from the dangers they must cover.

They included increased damage due to the rise of wind when solar panels are installed on the roof, increased wind or hail damage to the solar system itself, fire hazards from loose or poorly connected parts or wires, increased risk or electricity, availability of electricity. toxic substances and products from the panels themselves, and problems that can be related to being returned to the group.

Without commenting on the validity of the concerns, a Office of Insurance Regulation told Olympus that it would not allow more people to get into solar power unless the company offered solar owners a chance to “buy back” the money at a higher price. Olympus stopped booking. It was not immediately clear from the office database if the company resubmitted by purchase order.

Campbell contends that rooftop solar panels make roofs more susceptible to gusts of wind. He said when Hurricane Michael hit Panhandle in October 2018Many of the roofs with solar panels remained intact among the roofs without solar panels that were damaged.

The Solar United Neighbors website has many photos of installations that took place during the storm that damaged the roofs of surrounding buildings. Campbell says current building codes require solar roofs to withstand wind.

Paul HanderhanThe consumer president looks Federal Association for Insurance ReformHe said concerns about the wind’s rise stemmed from the potential for further damage if solar panels and roofs were to tear off the building together.

Suarez-Resnick agrees: “With strong winds like a Category 3 hurricane, you can do a lot of damage if the panels fly off and land on your neighbor’s roof or car.”

Companies that insure rooftop solar power are allowed to impose stricter conditions for coverage, reports show.

Edison, the company that blocked the Strawbridge plan, will only cover buildings with solar panels installed after 2016, on shingle or metal roofs less than 10 years old, on flat roofs less than five years old, and not producing more than 10 kilowatts of electricity. , which is as small or as small as you can make a roof.

As Strawbridge found out, Edison could not guarantee solar panels mounted on clay or tiled roofs. Stacey Giulianithe head of law at Florida Peninsula Insurance CompanyEdison’s parent company, said, “We chose not to insure solar panels on homes with tile roofs because of the difficulties associated with attaching the panels to the roof. Installing most tile roofs requires fasteners that drill holes into the tile roof.”

Solar panels are often installed without drilling into the tiles, Hoysradt said. Many installers remove the clay tiles where the solar panels are attached to the roof and replace them with aluminum tiles that won’t break or break when drilled.

Hoysradt noted that state licensing requirements for solar installers require knowledge of roofing, electrical and plumbing materials.

“We’re not a group of people who throw roofs without notice,” he said. “There is no reason for insurance carriers not to cover the sun on a tile roof.”

However, solar roof buyers can expect to find more insurance policies unless and until state legislatures decide to enact similar policies.

Common rates of sun insurance?

The National Trade Organization Solar Energy Industries Association is working with the Florida solar advocacy groups SEIA, Solar United Neighbors and Vote Solar to reach out to insurers and try to create legislation to eliminate confusion about insurance, he said. What is Giese?the head of the organization in the southeast.

The good news for Strawbridge and solar owners is that there are insurance policies that don’t limit coverage for solar homes or impose long exclusion lists. They include the government Opinions of the company Citizens Property Insurance Corp.which is called “final insurance.”

Citizens cover solar systems as part of the system. No special approvals or additions are required, spokesperson Michael Peltier he said. “It’s just going to be added to the replacement cost of the house,” he said. Of course, adding solar panels increases the cost of a home, so homeowners can expect to pay more when adding solar.

One mistake a homeowner should never make: Installing a solar system without looking into insurance options, Suarez-Resnick said. A professional can tell you if your roof is nearing the end of its life and needs to be replaced first. It’s a pain to get new insurance, and it’s expensive to remove and replace solar panels because Citizens or another insurer wants you to get a new roof.

Or you could look for a sunscreen, like Universal Contracting and Solar, which specializes in roof replacement and solar installations. You can get a long-term investment and receive a 30% tax credit to reduce the cost of the combined service, he says. Jennifer Kempkadirector of a business development company.

“Right now is the best time to go solar,” he said.

Ron Hurtibise covers business and consumer issues South Florida Sun Sentinel. He can be reached by phone at 954-356-4071, on Twitter @ronhurtibise or by email at [email protected].

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