Underwriters harden view of hurricane-prone states’ building code fealty

Sources: Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), Tampa, Fla.; CP staff

IBHS’ 2018 edition of Rating the States follows a disastrous year of storms, authors note, and is well timed to inform discussion and action to improve building strength as communities repair or replace hurricane-damaged properties.

“Mother Nature delivered a serious and costly beating to the U.S. and its territories during 2017, with 25 million people impacted by hurricanes and many more by other severe weather events,” says IBHS CEO Julie Rochman. “Bad weather is not new, and will not stop. But what can and must stop is the continued construction, and inevitable destruction, of weak, vulnerable homes built—and too often rebuilt—in questionable locations. We must build stronger, to code standards proven to reduce risk, and stop allowing today’s weather events to become painful, expensive disasters for homeowners, communities, states and the entire nation.”

Like 2012 and 2015 editions, this year’s Rating the States uses a 100-point scale to assess the progress of 18 hurricane exposure-prone states along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coast in strengthening their residential building code systems. IBHS weighs 47 data points to assess program effectiveness, including code adoption and enforcement; building official training and certification; and, construction trades licensing requirements. Topping the 2018 rankings with respective scores of 95, 94 and 92 are Florida, Virginia and South Carolina versus laggards Mississippi, Alabama and Delaware, scoring 28, 27 and 17.

This year’s report finds that most states with strong building code systems in place at the time of 2012 edition remain committed to building safety. “States with strong, updated codes saw stunning proof in Florida that updated, well-enforced building codes have led to the construction of homes and buildings that can stand up to fierce hurricane winds. It can’t be any clearer: these codes work,” Rochman contends. “Unfortunately, many states took no action to improve their code systems, and a few have weaker systems in place now than in 2015.”

The full 2018 Rating the States report with state-specific information is posted here.


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