Insurers pick R.I. for new program

Insurers pick R.I. for new program


SOUTH KINGSTOWN — A national insurance organization has chosen Rhode Island as the northern Atlantic region’s beachhead for a new program that offers tools for homeowners and builders to make their buildings more resilient to natural hazards and may result in lower insurance premiums.

Fortified Home is a national program created by the Insurance Institute of Business and Home Safety that specifies a set of upgraded engineering and building standards designed to make new and existing homes more resilient to specific natural hazards.

The insurance organization coordinated with R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council, R.I. State Building Commission, University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center and R.I. Sea Grant to initiate the program in Rhode Island. The program is already in place in several southern Atlantic and Gulf Coast states.

URI Coastal Resources Center Coastal Management Specialist Pam Rubinoff said Fortified is a tool to help property owners increase the resilience of their homes to storms and that many builders already follow its tenets.

“With resilient building we talk about the strengthening of a residential dwelling or commercial buildings to minimize destruction of personal property and to minimize the loss of use after a catastrophe,” she said.

“Fortified is a system of techniques that help homeowners strengthen their homes against the power of tropical storms and hurricanes.

“This is a code-plus, inspection-based program — but many contractors are already doing many of the elements as best practices,” she added.

The program has three levels of certification — bronze, silver, and gold — that cover specific areas of the home and build upon each other and allow the homeowner to choose a desired protection level.

Rhode Island’s first Fortified home, certified at the gold level, is nearing completion in South Kingstown. The house was designed and built by Caldwell and Johnson of North Kingstown.

CRMC Executive Director Grover Fugate said he has supported the program because it promotes homes’ resilience to the increasing severity of New England’s storms.

“The CRMC has been actively encouraging the building industry to take part in this voluntary program from day one,” he said in a release. “The Council does not typically ‘endorse’ industry products or programs, but the Fortified program provides the means to build a more resilient housing stock, in a time when we are seeing an ever-increasing need for hurricane and storm event adaptation and resilience.”

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