Nonprofit Research Organization Calls Alabama a Leader in Resilient Construction
Connie Bryant Breedlove
Managing Director, Communications
Alabama Department of Insurance
Public Information Officer
Montgomery, AL, May 19, 2022 – The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has named Alabama Insurance Commissioner Jim Ridling the recipient of its inaugural Lifetime Achievement in Resilience Award in recognition of a groundbreaking career that has established Alabama as the nation’s leader in resilient construction.
IBHS, a non-profit organization that researches ways to strengthen homes and commercial buildings to better withstand severe weather, honored Commissioner Ridling earlier today at a special ceremony held in Montgomery.
“Commissioner Ridling recognized, at a time well before there was a national focus on the importance of sustainability, that the only way to effectively change how communities weather a storm is to change the way they are built and re-roofed,” said Roy Wright, president and chief executive officer of IBHS.
Working with state leadership and the insurance industry, Commissioner Ridling established Strengthen Alabama Homes, which is now a model resilience program for other states by creating a path for homeowners of all income levels to build stronger new homes and to retrofit their existing properties to better perform during the storms they face. His vision for an innovative grant program paired with insurance incentives has helped thousands of Alabama families mitigate their homes to better withstand the worst of Mother Nature. As a result, Alabama leads the nation in homes built or reroofed to the IBHS FORTIFIED Home™ standard.
“Commissioner Ridling led the charge as Alabama explored ways to make our homes and businesses stronger,” says Governor Kay Ivey. “His commitment to reducing the damage caused by Mother Nature put our state at the leading edge of the resiliency movement. So, I think it’s fitting that he be honored with an award celebrating a career dedicated to helping our state be better prepared for the next storm – no matter where it hits.”
Motivated by the devastation and challenging insurance environment brought on by Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, Commissioner Ridling worked with the Governor’s Office and legislature to establish a program where the Department of Insurance could help Alabamians strengthen homes and businesses. Alongside leaders like Alabama Insurance Underwriting Association’s Bill Buckley, Commissioner Ridling’s goal was to help Alabama become the most resilient state in the nation. The Strengthen Alabama Homes (SAH) grant program, established by legislative act in 2011, quickly became the foundation for residential mitigation efforts in the state. The innovative program is the first of its kind in the nation to adopt FORTIFIED as its method of mitigation. Commissioner Ridling worked diligently to secure perpetual funding for this vital program without using tax-payer dollars. As a result of his leadership, SAH has helped more than 4,000 Alabama families get the extra protection provided by a FORTIFIED Roof™.
“Storms will come and there is nothing we can do about that,” says Commissioner Ridling, “How we prepare for them, what we do to help our fellow Alabamians stay safe and secure in their lives and property – that’s what changes lives and that’s what we should be doing.”
By decreasing the risk of loss as well as the frequency and cost of insurance claims incurred by the insurance industry, Commissioner Ridling created savings for consumers in the form of a discount on wind premiums. The discount is available for Alabama residents who mitigate their home to the FORTIFIED standard and the savings can be significant. The most vulnerable residents can see as much as a 50 percent discount on their wind insurance premium.
Additionally, Commissioner Ridling created a FORTIFIED Endorsement, which all admitted carriers now offer to customers in Alabama at the time of sale or renewal of a homeowner’s policy. This optional, additional insurance ensures homeowners have the opportunity to upgrade to the FORTIFIED standard if they have to replace their roof after a storm. This innovative, alternative approach to promoting mitigation will extend resiliency to tens of thousands of homeowners over the years and creates an on-going opportunity to educate homeowners about the benefits and affordability of taking action to strengthen their homes against severe weather.
“Early in his career, Commissioner Ridling worked insurance claims. He saw first-hand how severe weather disrupts lives, displaces families, and drives financial loss, and he did not forget that when he became Alabama’s Insurance Commissioner,” says Wright. “Instead, he used his influence to create lasting programs that have helped and will continue to help tens of thousands of Alabama families to strengthen their homes in the years ahead. This work has established his legacy as a resilience pioneer, and I can think of no other person more deserving of IBHS’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement in Resilience Award.”
Alabama boasts more than 30,000 FORTIFIED homes with the vast majority in Mobile and Baldwin Counties, where the program first took hold to defend against the risk of hurricane damage. Now, a growing number are in central Alabama to protect homes from severe weather, including tornadoes.
About the Alabama Department of Insurance
The mission of the Alabama Department of Insurance is to serve the people of Alabama by regulating the insurance industry, providing consumer protection, promoting market stability, and enforcing fire safety standards and laws. The state of Alabama is part of the U.S. insurance regulatory framework which is a highly coordinated state-based national system designed to protect policyholders and to serve the greater public interest through the effective regulation of the U.S. insurance marketplace. Through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), U.S. insurance regulators establish national standards and best practices, conduct peer reviews and coordinate their regulatory oversight to better protect the interests of consumers while ensuring a strong, viable insurance marketplace.
About Strengthen Alabama Homes (SAH)
SAH provides grants to Alabama residents for residential wind mitigation on existing, owner occupied, single family homes. The program was created by the Strengthen Alabama Homes Act of 2011. Learn more at www.StrengthenAlabamaHomes.com.
About the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)
The IBHS mission is to conduct objective, scientific research to identify and promote effective actions that strengthen homes, businesses and communities against natural disasters and other causes of loss. Learn more about IBHS at DisasterSafety.org.
About FORTIFIED Home
Please visit fortifiedhome.org to learn more about the IBHS FORTIFIED Home program, including the designation process, how to identify a certified FORTIFIED evaluator and other valuable resources.