Safe Building Code Incentive Act will Save Lives and Reduce Costs, says IBHS

Media Contact
Tiffany O’Shea
Public Affairs Director, IBHS
Phone: (512) 636-7811
Twitter: @disastersafety

(Tampa) April 16, 2015 – The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) today announced its support for the Safe Building Code Incentive Act, H.R. 1748, which was introduced this week by U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) in the U.S. House. This important legislation would provide additional disaster relief assistance to states adopting and enforcing strong building codes.

“We know that communities with strong, well-enforced building codes fare better than those with weak or no codes when disasters strike,” said Julie Rochman, president and CEO, IBHS. “Building codes provide minimum design and construction standards and are critical to the safety of our nation’s citizens.”

“While the past couple of years have been considered ‘light’ with regard to natural catastrophes, there were $15 billion in insured losses caused by natural disasters in 2014, and $13 billion in 2013,” Rochman said. “That’s billion with a ‘b’. The huge financial cost of these events is staggering, but the larger, more tragic costs are the thousands of shattered and lost lives.”

IBHS recently released the second edition of its Rating the States report, which assesses the progress of the 18 most hurricane-prone states along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast in strengthening their residential building code systems. The new report finds most states with strong building code systems in place at the time of the original 2012 report remain committed to building safety; they updated their codes to the latest model code editions, or are in the process of doing so, and maintained effective enforcement systems. Unfortunately, a number of states took no action to improve their code systems, and a few have weaker systems in place now than in 2012.

“Widespread adoption and enforcement of strong building codes at the state level will save lives, protect property and ultimately reduce taxpayer costs by reducing postdisaster government aid,” said Rochman.

In the case of high-wind events, such as hurricanes, research shows that modern building codes make a difference in reducing the amount of storm-related damage. In fact, modern building codes reduced the severity (cost) of insurance losses by 42 percent and the frequency (number) of insured losses by 60 percent, according to a study done by IBHS, the University of Florida and the FEMA Mitigation Assessment Team following Hurricane Charley, which struck Florida in 2004.

The full 2015 Rating the States report with state-specific information and the original 2012 Rating the States report are available on IBHS’ website; for additional information about building codes, visit IBHS’ Building Code site.


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.