OKLAHOMA CITY, March 2 – The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) today launched its new FORTIFIED Home™–High Wind and Hail programs at the National Tornado Summit. 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.
“Oklahoma has firsthand knowledge of how devastating these storms are, which is why we are very pleased that IBHS has created these building standards to help homes stand up to Mother Nature’s fury,” 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.
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.
“FORTIFIED uses a unique systems-based method for creating stronger, safer homes and is available and affordable at every price point,” Malik 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 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.
“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,” Malik explained.
“Places like Moore, Oklahoma, that have been continually devastated by tornadoes have already started revising their local building codes to incorporate stronger provisions. In 2014, following the third deadly tornado in five years to decimate their community, Moore’s City Council adopted stronger codes based on IBHS’ FORTIFIED superior construction standards,” Malik.
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.