June 6, 2008
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With the start of the 2008 hurricane season, the National Hurricane Survival Initiative recently-released a Mason-Dixon poll that found many coastal residents are admittedly unprepared for a major storm. Specifically, the poll found 85 percent of respondents have not taken any steps to reinforce their homes since the previous hurricane season. To move Floridians away from this trend and provide consumers with incentives to harden their homes, Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) have partnered to establish the Hurricane Home Rating Coalition (HHRC).
The HHRC’s mission is to develop broad business support to voluntarily implement a home rating scale that will incentivize Floridians to strengthen their homes with hurricane-resistant building and home improvement projects. By actively taking steps to reinforce their homes, Floridians will be protecting their loved ones, as well as their possessions. The coalition’s consensus-based approach brings business, industry and government stakeholders together to promote awareness of a consistent measuring tool that will eventually lead to safer Florida homes.
“There couldn’t be a better time for Florida homeowners to break the cycle of build, destroy and rebuild,” said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, co-chair of HHRC and President and CEO of FLASH. “The 2004-2005 hurricane seasons have resulted in technological and social policy advances, such as the Home Structure Rating System, which allows homeowners to determine their windstorm readiness and strengthen their homes and communities against hurricanes.”
HHRC encourages Floridians to participate in a voluntary home inspection, which will provide a homeowner with a 1-100 rating on the Home Structure Rating System (HSRS) scale. The inspection’s rating, based on both the construction and location of the home, gauges the structure’s chance for hurricane survival while the subsequent inspection report provides steps homeowners can take to build or retrofit their homes against hurricanes.
“The Home Structure Rating System is the first of its kind and will provide valuable insight into the hurricane sustainability of a home, which will ultimately help lower the losses incurred by consumers,” said Cecil Pearce, co-chair of HHRC and American Insurance Association Vice President, Southeast Region. “In addition to potential insurance savings, reinforcing a home gives homeowners the chance to increase the future resale value of their homes while protecting their families which, of course, is everyone’s first priority.”
By participating in a free voluntary HSRS inspection under the My Safe Florida Home program prior to selling a home or at the time of purchase, HHRC believes consumers will look to a home’s hurricane safety rating as a future selling point. In a slowing real estate market, a hurricane safety rating score could make the difference in a buyer’s decision, especially in communities more vulnerable to the devastating effects of hurricanes.
“The 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons brought $33 billion in insured loses on 2.8 million Florida homeowners,” said Gerald Wester, HHRC consultant. “As we face the possibility of another above normal hurricane season, the Hurricane Home Rating Coalition urges Floridians to brace their homes. By making improvements now, homeowners can help prevent the need for major home reconstruction while increasing their potential market value.”