First FORTIFIED Home to be Built in Tulsa by State Farm, Habitat for Humanity, Tulsa Partners and IBHS

Media Contacts:

OK Insurance Department, please contact Kelly Dexter at 405-522-0683 or Kelly.Dexter@oid.ok.gov

IBHS, please contact Tiffany O’Shea at (512) 636-7811 or toshea@ibhs.org

State Farm, please contact Jim Camoriano at (573) 289-6440 or jim.camoriano.huiz@statefarm.com

Tulsa Habitat for Humanity, please contact Cameron Walker at (918) 640-3277 or cwalker@tulsahabitat.org

Tulsa Partners, please contact Tim Lovell at (918) 403-9823 or tulsapartners@gmail.com

TULSA, March 31 – The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) today announced the first FORTIFIED Home utilizing the High Wind and Hail standards will be built in Tulsa in the coming months. At a press conference today, State Farm presented a check for $15,000 as part of a grant to Tulsa Partners. $3,000 of this total will be used to initiate construction on the first FORTIFIED Home in Tulsa in partnership with Tulsa Habitat for Humanity. This model home will be located in the Kendall-Whittier area and upon completion will be open to the public and potential Habitat clients for 12–18 months. This development follows the launch of the new FORTIFIED Home™–High Wind & Hail programs earlier this month at the National Tornado Summit.

“As the largest insurer of homes in the United States, we know what people go through in rebuilding their lives after a disaster,” said Jim Camoriano, State Farm spokesman. “Building homes to a superior set of standards not only protects people’s property and belongings, but also their lives.”

“Oklahoma has firsthand knowledge of how devastating these storms are, which is why we are very pleased IBHS has created these building standards to help homes stand up to Mother Nature’s fury and that State Farm, Tulsa Habitat for Humanity and Tulsa Partners are stepping up to strengthen our communities,” said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak.

“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,” Doak continued.

“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.

“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 Tiffany O’Shea, IBHS Director of Public Affairs.

“FORTIFIED uses a unique systems-based method for creating stronger, safer homes and is available and affordable at every price point,” O’Shea noted. “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.”

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 O’Shea.

“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 O’Shea.

“One of the most exciting things about launching this program in Oklahoma is 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. Homes will be strengthened against low level tornadoes and high winds at the edges of strong tornadoes, straight-line wind events, severe thunderstorms and hailstorms,” O’Shea explained.

Visit DisasterSafety.org/FORTIFIED for more details about the programs, including how to find an evaluator, select a designation level, document specific construction features, and other important information.

Ed. Note: Hi-definition video of testing conducted at the IBHS Research Center is available for use by the media. Please contact Tiffany O’Shea at (512) 636-7811 or toshea@ibhs.org for video files.

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About the Oklahoma Insurance Department
The Oklahoma Insurance Department, an agency of the State of Oklahoma, is responsible for the education and protection of the insurance-buying public and for oversight of the insurance industry in the state.

About the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) 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.

About State Farm
The mission of State Farm is to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams. State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of auto, home and individual life insurance in the United States. Its 18,000 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve more than 82 million policies and accounts – nearly 80 million auto, home, life, health and commercial policies, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 41 on the 2015 Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com.

About Tulsa Habitat for Humanity
Seeking to put God’s love into action, Tulsa Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. Tulsa Habitat for Humanity does not give away homes. Instead, we provide access to the opportunity of homeownership for hardworking, deserving individuals and families in our community. Through house sponsorships, individual donations and volunteer time, we build quality, affordable and attractive houses. 

About Tulsa Partners
Tulsa Partners, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization incorporated in December 2000. Tulsa Partners’ vision is to create a disaster-resistant and sustainable community. All of our activities are done through multi-sector collaborative partnerships.