CEO Roy E. Wright addresses Ways and Means on climate change adaptation; Calls for bilateral support of tax credits to encourage property owner investments in home and business resilience
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 15, 2019 – In invited testimony today before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, Roy E. Wright, CEO and President of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), urged Congress to join hands with the American public in a shared approach to financing resilience nationwide.
During the Committee’s hearing on “The Economic and Health Consequences of Climate Change,” Wright pointed out that severe weather events today – with no abatement seen in the future – drive personal and economic loss, disruption and family displacement. These losses, he said, have long term impacts on people, as well as local and state economies, for years after the event, but they can be reduced.
“The goal of climate adaptation is to take actions today to reduce losses tomorrow. Recognizing that we can’t predict specific weather events next month, much less over the next several decades, IBHS knows that putting proven building science solutions in place now will reduce disaster losses in the future. Given its important societal and economic benefits, adaptation is a sound fiscal strategy, public health objective, and humanitarian obligation,” Wright said in submitted testimony.
Wright applauded two pieces of federal legislation passed in 2018, that provided funding for resilience activities. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which provided cost-sharing incentives for states to invest in resilience and the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) of 2018 which created several new opportunities for state and localities to drive mitigation activities.
“Yet resilience and adaption can’t be financed by the government alone,” Wright noted. “That’s neither feasible nor responsible. We must drive individual homeowners and businesses to make their own investments to reduce the impacts of disaster.”
Wright went on to note that tax credits may prove to be “one of the most promising federal approaches” to incentivizing U.S. home and business owners to invest in resilient building or retrofitting.
“A homeowner disaster resilience credit has potential to reduce federal post-disaster payments and provide an important incentive to building owners who persist in the belief that adaptation investments are unnecessary because ‘it can’t happen to me,’” Wright said. “What better pathway to reducing this growing risk than Americans taking specific, impactful steps to their own home?”
A homeowner or business that chooses this path has “the potential to minimize the impact of disasters” and avoid the need for people to leave their neighborhood, and potentially their school, community and places of employment when their home or workplace “is turned upside-down.”
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. Wright served the nation during numerous federal weather disasters and witnessed the human and economic toll of wind, flood, and wildfire events. He joined IBHS in 2018 to help drive adoption of real-world, scientifically proven, and affordable solutions to make homes and businesses more durable, including the IBHS FORTIFIED Home program, the national standard for wind resilience, which has been shown to save $5 for every $1 invested, according to the National Institutes for Building Sciences.