Will your house still be standing after the next big storm? [Video]

Ten years ago, the most catastrophic natural disaster in U.S. history made landfall, taking more than 1,800 lives and causing more than $108 billion in property damages across the Gulf Coast.

In the months following Hurricane Katrina, Nationwide members filed more than 33,000 claims, primarily in Mississippi and Alabama. In total, Nationwide paid more than $411 million on covered Katrina claims.

“We know first hand that losses after a catastrophe are not just about the numbers,” says Mark Pizzi, president and chief operating officer of Direct and Member Solutions. “Recovering from a catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina takes an emotional and psychological toll on families and communities.”

That’s why Nationwide partners with the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) to educate consumers on the steps they can take to help prevent these types of losses from occurring.

IBHS’ FORTIFIED program calls for higher construction standards, making homes and small businesses safer and more resilient to severe weather.

Nationwide is also asking federal, state and local officials to provide incentives to consumers, homebuilders and contractors who build or retrofit homes to IBHS FORTIFIED standards, including:

  • Building permit rebates
  • State-level tax incentives
  • State and federal grant funds

Although consumers can spend a relatively small amount of money to protect their home, many are still reluctant to spend additional money outside of what their insurance premium covers after a natural disaster. Incentives that offset the retrofitting or building costs could encourage homeowners and businesses to rebuild to FORTIFIED, the strongest building standards available.

But it’s not just a government responsibility; it’s a partnership among insurers, builders and regulators.

Alabama and Mississippi, among other states, have demonstrated leadership in finding ways to help homeowners and business owners make their homes and businesses more disaster resilient.

Mississippi passed landmark legislation in 2014 to enact a statewide building code law. Nationwide also worked with the state and regulators to become the first carrier to offer mitigation credits on homeowners’ insurance protection to property owners ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

New legislation in Alabama creates programs for homeowners to retrofit their homes to make them more resilient to severe weather events. The state also offers an insurance discount program for homes using the IBHS FORTIFIED standards, which was expanded to include businesses this year.

“We’re already seeing the positive effects of IBHS’ stronger, safer FORTIFIED standards in Mississippi and Alabama,” Pizzi says. “We’re committed to helping our members protect their families and what they value. One of the best ways we can do that is to raise awareness of FORTIFIED home construction.”

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