Issues With Florida Homeowners Insurance and Aluminum Wiring

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  • Issues With Florida Homeowners Insurance and Aluminum Wiring

You may think the wiring in your house is for the electrician to deal with, not you. However, your insurance provider might not feel the same way. Aluminum wiring is problematic for the safety of your home, which means it’s problematic for insurance companies.

Aluminum wires make your house a fire hazard, and there are tens of thousand of electrical fires every year in the United States that are caused by them. Let’s take a look at how your aluminum wiring affects your homeowners insurance in Florida and what you can do to remedy it.

Buying a House With Aluminum Wiring in Florida

In the 1960s and early 1970s, nearly 2 million homes were wired with aluminum. Copper prices soared unexpectedly, so builders turned to the cheaper alternative. Aluminum wiring isn’t inherently problematic, but the ways it was installed at the time caused, and continue to cause, dangerous and fatal house fires.

While it’s possible to have aluminum wiring in your house anywhere in Florida, many communities in Broward, Palm Beach, and northern Miami-Dade were built during this time, so some of the houses there may still have aluminum wiring.

According to the Sun Sentinel, 43% of all homes in Broward County were built in these decades. Tens of thousands of homes in Escambia county were constructed around this time too, and additional thousands of homes in Santa Rosa County and Pinellas County on the west coast were built then.

A house typically has hundreds of connections. Aluminum wires are more brittle than copper, which can lead to more hot spots and overheating connections at outlets, electrical panels, switches and elsewhere. 

As the aluminum wears, its continued expansion and contraction can weaken the ends of the wires where they connect to screws and cause a fire if it gets too hot. It’s also possible for aluminum wires to rust, which can cause major issues.

Can You Get Homeowners Insurance With Aluminum Wiring?

Yes, but you’ll likely have to remediate the wires in some way or pay a higher rate than normal. Insurers generally don’t like it when anything is too dated on a house. Older features could be harder to find, costly to replace, and excluded from modern building codes altogether. This includes aluminum wiring.

Homes with aluminum wiring represent an increased fire hazard. To offset the greater financial risk, an insurer will charge more to cover it.

Homeowners insurance typically covers electrical fires due to unexpected faulty equipment, but providers usually don’t cover issues that are a result of policyholder negligence.

So, if you have a policy and have aluminum wiring, be sure to check to see if an incident caused by these wires is covered. Your provider may determine your failure to update them as carelessness on your part and not reimburse you if a fire does break out.

In the early 2000s, most companies were outright denying homes with aluminum wiring in Florida. Citizens was one of the first companies in the state to allow policyholders to keep their aluminum wiring as long as they properly remediated them. 

Aluminum Wiring Remediation

Wire remediation means repairing or replacing the wires at the connections in your home to make them safer. If you’ve got aluminum wires, it’s highly recommended that you hire an electrician to fix the problem.

Unsurprisingly, the best way to remedy your aluminum wiring situation would be to have the house rewired completely with copper wire.

Considering the inspection and labor costs, potential new electrical panel, and hundreds of feet of copper wire, this process easily costs thousands of dollars, which makes it an unrealistic option for many.

A more cost-effective solution could be to repair just the ends of the aluminum wires at connection points. Two generally accepted ways of accomplishing this are with COPALUM or AlumiConn connectors. 

The COPALUM method involves “pigtailing” copper wires to the end of your aluminum wires with a COPALUM connector. The AlumiConn process is similar, although AlumiConn isn’t the first choice of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a government agency that develops product safety standards. 

Insurance companies could deem either one sufficient, but COPALUM is generally more expensive and official since it must be done by a contractor. AlumiConn connectors are cheaper and they’re available online or at stores, but it’s still recommended that an electrician installs them. Both processes make aluminum wiring safer.

While these methods still may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars since every connection in your home must be remediated, they are still cheaper than completely rewiring.

If you’ve done some sort of haphazard home repair to your connections, like wrapping copper and aluminum together in a twist-on nut, you could be making your home more unsafe and uninsurable. It’s always recommended to get the help of an electrician.

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.

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