New Alabama Law Makes it Easier for Homeowners to Strengthen Homes to Withstand Severe Weather
Tuscaloosa, Ala., Jan. 7, 2020 – The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) today awarded the 15,000th designation in its FORTIFIED Home™ program for resilient living to a home in Tuscaloosa, Ala., which has a new roof funded by Strengthen Alabama Homes and installed by Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa. FORTIFIED is the national standard for construction that is resilient to severe weather and is part of a rapidly growing trend to build stronger homes across the country. Alabama currently leads the nation in FORTIFIED designated buildings and is home to nearly 80 percent of all FORTIFIED Homes.
“As homeowners across Alabama are keenly aware, severe weather disrupts lives, displaces families and drives financial loss,” asserts IBHS President and CEO Roy Wright. “For nearly three decades we’ve worked to identify solutions to help property owners prevent avoidable losses. In recent years, we’ve seen our FORTIFIED program and resilient building, in general, pick up momentum. The number of FORTIFIED Homes has more than doubled in the past two years, and Alabama’s Gulf Coast has been at the center of adopting these construction methods. With FORTIFIED now taking hold across the State it is fitting that the 15,000th home be dedicated here today.”
The State of Alabama first recognized IBHS’s building standards in 2009 by passing legislation requiring insurers to provide discounts for homes with a FORTIFIED designation. In 2016, Strengthen Alabama Homes began issuing grants to help homeowners retrofit roofs to the FORTIFIED standard. On Jan. 1, 2020, new state legislation became law ensuring every homeowner in Alabama is offered a FORTIFIED endorsement. Homeowners with this extra protection can now have their roof upgraded to FORTIFIED standards if it is being replaced due to a claim.
“For every home that is FORTIFIED, a family is safer, their lives are less disrupted from the effects of a destructive storm, a damaged roof is not filling up a landfill and the cost of wind insurance is lower,” said Alabama Insurance Commissioner Jim Ridling. “Fortification keeps workers in their homes and at their jobs, allowing employers to maintain their productivity, thus reducing the storm’s impact on the local economy. Our collaboration with IBHS makes Alabama a safer place to live and work.”
Understanding the importance of helping people make their homes more resilient against severe weather, during the event State Farm announced a $150,000 contribution to support the Strengthen Alabama Homes program. According to State Farm’s counsel for Alabama, Steve Simkins, the company is excited to help Alabama homeowners gain the peace of mind that comes with a FORTIFIED Roof, and they are hopeful the donation will encourage other companies to support the program.
“FORTIFIED provides achievable property protection for any family,” stated Julie Shiyou-Woodard, President and CEO of Smart Home America. “Dedicated public-private partnerships between IBHS, State Farm, Smart Home America, Habitat for Humanity, the Department of Insurance, and many others, have allowed FORTIFIED to take root here (Alabama). Across the nation, we are all working to grow and integrate FORTIFIED and resilient construction at the community and state levels.”
Using the FORTIFIED Home standards as a guide, Habitat for Humanity has created its own resilience program for new construction and also partners with Strengthen Alabama Homes to retrofit homes, like the one designated today, to the FORTIFIED standards.
“All of us at Habitat Tuscaloosa are excited about the opportunity to offer FORTIFIED Roofs to our homeowners,” added Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa Executive Director Ellen Potts. “The additional safety and durability this adds to a home provides families with peace of mind. And, through discounts on their homeowners insurance, it will save them money over the long term.”
The 15,000th home in the FORTIFIED program was dedicated at a special ceremony held at the Tuscaloosa home. Jim Ridling, Commissioner, Alabama Department of Insurance; Brian Hastings, Director, Alabama Emergency Management Agency; Brian Powell, Director, Strengthen Alabama Homes; Steve Simkins, Counsel for Alabama, State Farm; Julie Shiyou-Woodard, President and CEO, Smart Home America; Ellen Potts, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa, were in attendance.
For more information about the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety or for tips and information about making your home more resilient visit www.disastersafety.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.