FORTIFIED Home-High Wind, Hail Programs Launched at National Tornado Summit

March 3, 2016

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) launched its new FORTIFIED Home–High Wind and Hail programs at the National Tornado Summit in Oklahoma.

The programs are designed to help homeowners build safer, stronger new homes, and retrofit or repair existing homes to make them more resistant to high winds and hailstorms.

“Last year, we had nearly 800 tornadoes, hailstorms and high windstorms, which caused millions and millions of dollars in damage. We simply cannot keep rebuilding communities in the same places in the same ways and expect a different result. We’ve got to do better for our citizens and the new FORTIFIED programs will help us do that,” said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak.

“Homeowners insurance is a wonderful safety net that can help put houses back together following severe weather events, but there is much more that makes a house a home, and a family part of a community. The FORTIFIED Home–High Wind and Hail programs protect what is priceless like cherished family heirlooms that can never be replaced, and the peace of mind you have knowing your home will still be there when the storm passes,” Doak said.

During the past five years, claims related to wind and hail damage on a national basis have accounted for almost 40 percent of all insured losses, averaging approximately $15 billion annually – and growing each year, according to ISO’s Actuarial Service.

“The new FORTIFIED programs are being launched nationally with a focus on the Midwest and Great Plains areas, and a special concentration in Oklahoma and Colorado – two locations very vulnerable to extreme high winds and hailstorms,” said Fred Malik, IBHS director of FORTIFIED programs.

“Employing an incremental approach, the programs have three levels of designation – Bronze, Silver and Gold. Builders and contractors work with home buyers and homeowners to choose the desired level of protection that best suits their budgets and resilience goals,” Malik said.

The new FORTIFIED Home–High Wind and Hail programs provide a uniform, voluntary, superior set of standards to help improve a home’s resilience by adding system-specific upgrades to minimum code requirements.

One of the most unique and important aspects of the programs is that every FORTIFIED Home is inspected by an independent, third party, certified evaluator – before and after the upgrades are performed.

“People often ask why the FORTIFIED Home programs are necessary when many jurisdictions have building codes in place. The answer is codes appropriately provide minimum life safety protection designed to ensure people can get out of a building safely. Codes are not intended to ensure homes are habitable after a catastrophic event or to protect the contents inside a home,” explained Malik.

“Another key feature of these programs is they start by focusing on the roof, which is the most important and most vulnerable component of every building. Your roof is your first line of defense during severe weather, so you want it to be as strong as possible,” noted Malik.

He added that “IBHS engineers believe property damage to homes from EF-0 and EF-1 tornadoes can be virtually eliminated if they are built or retrofitted using FORTIFIED standards.”

Source: IBHS, Oklahoma Insurance Department

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