CEO Roy E. Wright urges action now to reduce disaster losses in the future
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 17, 2019 – In invited testimony by the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, Roy E. Wright, President and CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), called for cost-effective changes to strengthen buildings, for educating home and business owners on the importance of their roof, and for stronger, enforced building codes to narrow the path of damage in future disasters by creating a more resilient nation.
During the Committee’s hearing on “Solving the Climate Crisis: Cleaner, Stronger Buildings,” Wright addressed the goal of climate adaptation as taking action today to reduce losses tomorrow. Adaptation, he said, encompasses key societal and economic benefits making it a sound fiscal strategy, public health objective, and humanitarian obligation.
“The same actions that protect buildings also protect the environment, by reducing the massive amounts of post-disaster debris that can overwhelm landfills and lessening the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases generated when buildings burn,” Wright said in submitted testimony.
“As we consider mitigating buildings against severe weather caused by shifting climate risks, it is important to note that we are also protecting homeowners from a costly disruption of their daily lives,” Wright noted, as damaged homes and businesses are known to disrupt lives, break up families, derail careers, and destroy financial security.
“Building codes are an important part of this focus. Historically, codes focus on life safety, but through proper application, they also can reduce the disruption natural hazards have on our lives.”
Wright applauded two pieces of federal legislation passed in 2018 that provided funding for resilience activities. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 provided cost-sharing incentives for states to invest in resilience, and the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) of 2018 created several new opportunities for state and localities to drive mitigation activities. Wright noted the Pre-Disaster Mitigation fund represents a fundamental shift in how the federal government prepares communities for future disasters.
Wright also highlighted two ways in which tax laws can be reformed: to remove the tax penalty for individuals and businesses that benefit from state-based catastrophe-loss mitigation programs, and to provide modest tax credits for eligible expenses paid by individuals and businesses for purchases that help reduce potential damage from hurricanes, flooding, and other forms of natural disaster.
Wright formerly served the Federal Emergency Management Agency as Chief Executive of the National Flood Insurance Program, and Deputy Associate Administrator leading a range of resilience programs. He joined IBHS in 2018 to help drive adoption of science-based, affordable solutions strengthen homes and businesses, including IBHS’s FORTIFIED Home™ program. FORTIFIED Home, known as the national standard for resilient construction, has been shown to save $5 for every $1 invested, according to the National Institutes for Building Sciences.