Nationwide Insurance is asking state and federal lawmakers to pass laws giving financial incentives for building or reinforcing homes and small businesses. The goal is to make communities more resilient in natural disasters.
Federal grants, tax breaks and building permit rebates would offset costs for consumers, homebuilders and contractors. Nationwide says such incentives should be based on construction and retrofit standards developed by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, a nonprofit research group supported by property insurers.
"Post-storm recovery efforts can require a significant allocation of federal and state funds," Nationwide President and COO Mark Pizzi said in a press statement. "Providing these fortification incentives before a storm hits could result in dramatic savings to our government and ultimately to taxpayers."
Fortification could also save communities heartache.
"Recovering from a hurricane or other natural disaster takes an emotional and psychological toll on families, business owners and communities that often far outweigh the financial cost of a loss," Pizzi said.
Nationwide Insurance also said insurance companies must do their part by providing property insurance discounts to motivate consumers to fortify their homes and business. In Mississippi, Nationwide worked with state regulators to offer home insurance discounts to customers who strengthened their homes when rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina.
"Thanks to work conducted by engineers at the IBHS Research Center, consumers can spend a relatively small amount of money to help protect not only their home or business, but more importantly, their loved ones, co-workers and valuable possessions," Pizzi said.
The institute's Fortified Home™ program uses a systems-based method for creating stronger, safer new and existing homes that are more resistant to damage from hurricanes, tropical storms, hailstorms, high winds and wind-driven rain associated with thunderstorms. Three levels of designations are available through the program -- bronze, silver and gold -- so builders and contractors can work with homeowners to choose the level of protection that suits their budgets and goals.