TAMPA, June 8, 2017 – Julie Rochman, CEO and president of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety called for public and private incentives to encourage construction standards for homes and commercial buildings that are stronger, more durable and more resilient.
“Disaster resilience is an imperative for virtually every sector of our economy,” Rochman said. “Resilient communities mean income and property tax bases are maintained, jobs are not lost, post-disaster aid is greatly reduced and residents have homes and jobs to return to after the storm.”
Rochman’s comments came while moderating a panel on public policy recommendations for a more resilient nation at the 2017 BuildStrong Coalition National Thought Leaders Forum in Washington, D.C. Conference attendees included policymakers, insurance industry representatives, emergency management officials and other experts to examine the power of disaster resiliency in construction to save lives and taxpayer dollars and explore solutions and incentives for strengthening buildings and mitigating damage from natural disasters.
The event acknowledged that improving America’s resistance to weather-related disasters today and in the future requires a coordinated, meaningful partnership between public and private entities.
“To that end,” Rochman added, “private individual mortgage underwriters, like individual insurance underwriters, could provide incentives to encourage resilient housing and commercial property. Federal agencies responsible for housing rules, such as HUD, federal agencies backing mortgages, state and federal agencies providing tax credits, and those that provide pre- or post-disaster grants or loans all should look at availability, eligibility, prioritization, and funding issues at least partly through the lenses of relative risk or vulnerability.
“We can harden existing structures so that the damage path of the next windstorm is greatly reduced,” Rochman added. “Just getting residential and commercial roofs right could save billions of dollars each year in losses. We know how to do that, and there is ample opportunity to do so before an event when the sun is shining. As a nation, we must shift our focus from post-disaster recovery, rebuilding and repairing to pre-disaster property loss mitigation that will substantially reduce property damage and save untold amounts of public and private dollars.”