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Talk of the Bay: Storm-survival scale for homes starts to build

By Times staff
Published April 5, 2007


Storm-survival scale for homes starts to build

Florida has taken the first step to implement a statewide rating system that scores homes on a scale of 1 to 100 depending on their ability to withstand severe wind damage. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation recommended the system Wednesday, which would be administered through the state's My Safe Florida Homes program and include free inspections. "You could save on your insurance, ride out a hurricane with your family or know your home would still be there, and use it as a sales tool," said OIR spokesman Bob Lotane. "There are homes out there that are incredibly well built that have survived hurricanes, regardless of age. If it has good mitigation, it's going to be rated that way." Lotane said that if the state Department of Financial Services adopts the program, it likely would be implemented as soon as possible.

Index calls Pinellas a relative bargain

Don't look now, but the cost of living in Pinellas County just fell below the national average. We know this is cold comfort if you just got, say, the bill from your property insurer in the mail. The news comes from fourth-quarter reports by ACCRA, a nonprofit organization that compiles a national cost-of-living index using information from chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and similar institutions. According to ACCRA, the cost of living in Pinellas is 99.1 percent of the national average, and the cost of housing is 98.6 percent. Still feeling cynical? You've got good reason. ACCRA does not factor taxes into its cost-of-living index.

Getting old comes with a steep price

Here's a tab we hope we won't have to pick up: The average Florida nursing home stay costs $75,210 a year. Genworth Financial, which hopes to stir up interest in long-term care insurance, compiled costs across the country and points out this sum is way more than Florida's average household income of $42,433 a year. Other discouraging news from the Florida survey: The cost of a one-bedroom unit in an assisted-living facility is $31,056 a year, while the average hourly rate for hiring a certified home health aide full time is $25.65 an hour.

[Last modified April 4, 2007, 23:12:03]

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