Fortified comes from the Latin word for “strong” and that’s just what homeowners get with a FORTIFIED designation—assurance their home will be better able to withstand extreme weather events.
In essence, FORTIFIED is a set of superior construction standards developed by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) to help strengthen new and existing homes through upgrades to minimum building code requirements. The goal is to help create resilient communities that are prepared for and can quickly recover from natural hazards like hurricanes, high winds, and hail.
The United States has suffered more than $60 billion in insured losses from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and almost $30 billion in Hurricane Sandy losses in 2012. Some of this loss could have been significantly reduced, if not prevented, via fortification.
The good news is, consumers now have access to a unique new iPad app called FORTIFIED Home™ On the Go. The app interactively walks users through the FORTIFIED process, providing information based on their input. The information includes videos, educational animations, and technical specifications. The app is a joint effort between Munich Re, US, and IBHS. You can download it here or visit www.munichreamerica.com/fortified for more information.
Still not convinced? Here are just some of the benefits of FORTIFIED Homes for homeowners:
– Reduce the potential for property damage from natural disasters
– Protect physical assets, such as the home itself and personal property like furniture, artwork, clothing, and photos
– Lower ownership costs by qualifying the homeowner for potential financial discounts and credits
– Minimize the home’s environmental footprint by limiting the amount of destroyed building materials that end up in landfills
– Safeguard the investments the homeowner has made in sustainability and energy efficiency
– Increase the chances the homeowner can more quickly return home after a catastrophic weather event
– Increase the likelihood the homeowner can remain in the community during the post-storm recovery period
– Lower the overall cost of the community’s recovery. (Studies show every $1 invested in property disaster mitigation saves society $4)
– Improve the marketability of the home with a transferable FORTIFIED designation
FORTIFIED construction standards are based on more than 20 years of post-storm damage investigations by engineers—particularly important because building codes typically set only minimum standards and vary greatly by state.
Upgrading and retrofitting guidance is designed to be affordable at every price point and designation level:
– Bronze level upgrades reduce wind and water entering the attic through the roof covering and vents
– Silver level increases a home’s strength by protecting windows, doors, and attached structures
– Gold level ties the house together to create what engineers call a continuous load path by connecting the roof to the walls, the walls to the floors, and the floors to the foundation—so it functions as a system
The FORTIFIED Home™ designation lasts for five years. At the end of that term, a re-designation audit must be completed, which focuses on the condition of the roof covering. If major structural changes have been made or if systems covered by FORTIFIED Home™ requirements have been damaged or upgraded since the original designation was awarded, a more extensive audit may be required.