Having homeowners insurance can provide much-needed peace of mind, knowing that you are financially protected should your home be damaged by a fire, natural disaster or even a break-in.
However, one unfortunate fact about homeowners insurance in Florida and elsewhere is that certain items aren’t always included in your base coverage.
And in Florida, few household systems are more important for homeowners than their air conditioner. In this guide, we’ll help you understand if and when your homeowners insurance policy will cover your AC unit.
In Florida, the HVAC system is actually one of the main areas of focus during a 4-point inspection. This is because the HVAC can be one of the most expensive items to replace as part of a claim — and not having air conditioning could increase the risk for mold and mildew damage.
An aging, poorly maintained HVAC system could result in higher premium costs because of the increased risk for it getting damaged in such events, or causing water damage to your home.
The good news is that AC units are often covered by homeowners insurance in Florida. Under standard coverage, your AC system is covered the same way as the rest of your property — if it is damaged or destroyed by a listed “peril,” insurance will cover repairs or replacement.
For example, if your air conditioner is damaged in a fire, by a lightning strike or by a falling tree, your insurance should cover repair or replacement costs. Similarly, homeowners insurance will typically cover repairs resulting from vandalism — just like it would if other parts of your home were vandalized.
However, homeowners insurance won’t provide coverage when your air conditioner breaks down due to general wear and tear or a lack of maintenance. AC systems have an average lifespan of 12 to 17 years, and when they need to be replaced due to old age or a maintenance problem, you’ll have to foot the entire bill yourself (unless you have a home warranty).
Yes, it does.
If your air conditioner is completely destroyed by a covered peril, your insurance provider should reimburse you the cost to replace it. This works the same way as if your AC was damaged and just needs repairs.
You would file a claim with your insurer, along with pictures of the damage. Your insurer would send an adjuster to your property to look at the unit and any other damage to your property to make an assessment.
If your unit needs to be replaced entirely, your insurer will provide a payout based on the type of coverage you have — minus the deductible, which you will need to pay yourself.
If your policy has replacement cost value, you will receive a payout equal to how much it would cost to replace your unit. If you have an actual cash value policy, your payout will be equal to the value of your system at the time it was damaged.
HVAC system theft is relatively uncommon — but it can happen. While thieves are less likely to steal a bulky central air conditioner unit, they could steal a window-mounted unit or parts from a central AC unit to be sold for scrap metal. The copper found in most AC units is especially valuable.
The good news is that homeowners insurance will usually cover replacement costs if your unit is stolen — or repair costs if the unit is damaged when only a few parts are stolen.
Before you file a claim with your insurance company, however, you will need to file a police report. The police report will serve as official documentation of the crime and the damage or loss of your AC unit, which the insurer will need to provide a reimbursement.
Your homeowners insurance policy will cover an air conditioner similar to how it would any other covered loss. Before filing a claim, it’s important to consider the total cost of repairs for your AC in comparison to your deductible.
If the repairs needed are relatively inexpensive, they might even be less than your deductible — meaning that your policy won’t provide any type of reimbursement. Some providers increase your premium for filing a claim, so in this case, you’d be better off just hiring a contractor yourself to handle repairs.
If the cost of repairs or replacement will exceed your deductible, you should go ahead and file a claim, with photos and a description of how the damage occurred. The sooner you can submit your claim, the better.
Your insurance provider will send an adjuster to your property to make an estimate of how much it will cost to repair or replace your unit. The approved total, minus the deductible, will be provided to you so you can pay a contractor. Many insurers will provide half of this reimbursement upfront, with the rest of the money paid out after repairs have been completed.
A central AC unit cools air at a central location, and then distributes that air to rooms throughout the house using blower fans and ductwork.
These systems may include an outdoor condenser and compressor, with an indoor cabinet that houses the evaporator. Alternatively, other central air conditioners house the evaporator, compressor and condenser together in a single outdoor cabinet.
Depending on the architecture of your home and the type of central air unit you have, the outdoor unit will either be placed on a concrete slab near your home or on a special platform on the roof.
Either way, this setup results in insurers treating central air units like a part of your home’s structure, rather than a piece of personal property.
This is actually a good thing, as there is a much broader scope of coverage for structural damage than personal property, which is more likely to be subject to narrower coverage limitations.
As part of their operation, air conditioners will produce water. In a well-maintained air conditioning system, this water will be transported by the drain lines to the outside of your property to prevent any interior water damage.
Without proper care, however, your air conditioner could start leaking water and stop working. There are several potential reasons why your air conditioner would leak, including a clogged drain line, a crack in the overflow pan, a clogged air filter that causes ice buildup on the evaporator coils or a malfunctioning pump.
Regardless of which of these issues led to the leak, your insurance is not likely to provide coverage. This is because these are all viewed as preventable maintenance problems — not an unexpected peril like a lightning strike or fire. In other words, these are problems that you should be able to avoid entirely if you are keeping up with recommended maintenance for your system.
Your insurance company won’t just deny coverage for fixing the air conditioner leak — they will most likely also deny coverage for any water damage that occurred to your home as a result of the leak. You’ll have to pay for the repairs completely out-of-pocket.
You might be able to get coverage for repairs through a home warranty program, which provides discounted repairs and replacements for HVAC and other home systems. However, these programs are often not as cost-effective as they may seem. Your best bet is to keep up on recommended maintenance and build an emergency savings fund to address unexpected repair issues with your system.
State Farm’s homeowners insurance policies will cover air conditioner repairs and replacement when the damage was the result of a covered peril, such as fire, windstorms or vandalism. A standard policy does not cover repair or replacement costs associated with a system wearing out or needing maintenance.
However, State Farm also offers Home Systems Protection coverage as an add-on, which may provide financial coverage if your air conditioning (or other home systems and appliances) unexpectedly stops working due to an electrical or mechanical failure.
If you have State Farm homeowners insurance, it is recommended that you contact your agent if you are interested in this additional coverage. They can help you understand how it would apply to your air conditioner, and how it would increase your current premium expenses.
While Geico offers homeowners insurance coverage, it does not actually provide its own policies. Instead, it partners with other insurers to provide home coverage. In this sense, Geico really works more as a middleman, helping individuals who already get auto insurance through them find coverage.
This can help you get a bundling discount on your auto insurance policy, but it also means that you won’t file claims or manage your homeowners policy through Geico. Instead, the type of coverage available for your AC units will be entirely dependent on the company that Geico matched you with.
Because of this, Geico customers will need to research the policies of the third-party insurer that partnered with Geico to provide homeowners insurance coverage.
Here’s what Progressive’s website has to say about their coverage for HVAC units:
“Your home's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units may be covered by homeowners insurance if the damage was caused by a covered peril. Dwelling coverage on your homeowners policy may pay to repair the damage, up to your policy’s limits and minus your deductible. Window AC units will typically fall under personal property coverage.”
The type of AC unit you have will affect how it is covered. Personal property coverage limits tend to be much lower than dwelling coverage limits — so if you have window AC units, you may not get as much of a reimbursement as you would with a central unit.
However, you can add an insurance rider to your policy that provides extended coverage to higher-value items (such as a window AC unit), whose total value is greater than your standard personal property coverage limits. Be sure you understand the value of your units and your policy’s coverage limits when deciding whether to purchase this add-on coverage.
In summary: homeowners insurance in Florida is often able to reimburse you when your air conditioner is damaged, destroyed or stolen. However, there are important caveats to be aware of.
First and foremost, the damage must be the result of a covered peril as listed in your insurance policy. This could include a fire, robbery, vandalism or a windstorm — but you’ll need to check your policy for a full list of covered perils. Remember, flood damage is not covered under standard homeowners insurance policies — you’ll need to buy flood insurance if this is a risk for your property.
Homeowners insurance also will not cover repair or replacement costs resulting from aging equipment or neglect. You are responsible for maintenance and upkeep — though some insurers now offer protection for unexpected equipment failures as an add-on to your policy.
If your AC unit is damaged by a covered peril, you’ll need to submit a claim to your insurer along with any supporting documentation, such as photos of the damage and a description of what took place. If the damage resulted from a criminal act, you’ll need to file a police report first and include it when you file your claim.
Your insurer will then send an adjuster to your property to determine your reimbursement total, which is the amount of money you’ll get for repairs or replacement minus your deductible.
Getting quality homeowners insurance in Florida can be challenging, especially with the state’s complicated insurance market. Fortunately, Worth Insurance is here to help, making it easy to compare and shop free quotes from the state’s top insurance providers.
With Worth Insurance on your side, you can find the right level of coverage for your property at an affordable price. You can have confidence that your air conditioner — and the rest of your home — has the appropriate level of coverage to keep you financially protected in case of a loss.