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- Don’t Downplay the Impact of the 2014 Hurricane Season; Policymakers Made It Safer for Residents
- Insurers Encourage Preparing Your Property Now
JACKSON, Miss – While it was a fairly calm Atlantic hurricane season, policymakers in Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Florida were busy trying to find ways to strengthen building codes that can protect residents from excessive damage in the event of severe weather.
The biggest victory for consumers came in Mississippi where Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, Governor Phil Bryant, the Legislature and Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) worked diligently with a broad-based coalition to enact Senate Bill 2378, the state’s first statewide building code.
“These new standards which become effective November 28, could potentially save lives, reduce damage after a major weather event, and reduce insurance costs,” said PCI’s Director of Personal Lines, Chris Hackett. “The stronger building code will help protect people and their property by ensuring that residential and commercial buildings are now built to withstand greater hurricane force wind and impact from flying debris.”
While building code legislation did not pass in Alabama, lawmakers seriously considered adopting HB 614 which was very similar to the law enacted in Mississippi. Although the bill was introduced late in the regular session, there was healthy discussion regarding the importance of adopting minimum statewide building code standards. It is anticipated that building code legislation will be reintroduced during the 2015 Session and PCI will be strongly supporting its passage.
Meanwhile in Texas, the House Insurance Committee and the Land and Resource Management Committee held hearings to examine coastal resiliency, hazard mitigation, building codes and the role of insurance in protecting the coast. Although Texas has good code enforcement in some coastal areas, it can be less stringent in other areas. For greater consumer protection, PCI is urging that the code be made mandatory for the entire TWIA area and that the statewide building code be updated and enforced uniformly around the state.
In Florida, legislators and stakeholders considered including a section in the homeowners’ claims bill that passed the legislature that would have addressed roofing contractor fraud. Roofing contractor fraud laws would help eliminate the fraudulent activity that can occur following any major weather event. We are hopeful Florida will join the rest of the coastal states impacted by severe weather by adding a layer of protection for consumers by enacting contractor fraud legislation in 2015.
“As hurricane season draws to en end, we can breathe a sigh of relief that we were able to get through without a major hurricane hitting the U.S., but there’s always next season and the potential for severe weather to pop up quickly, especially in the southeast,” said Hackett. “Insurers use this time to stress the importance of preparing your home now and we were pleased to see policymakers use it to advance discussions regarding stronger building codes.”
2014 Hurricane Season Overview
Though the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season was quiet, the Pacific season was a different story. In the Atlantic, there were eight named storms, and six hurricanes – while the Pacific saw fourteen hurricanes and six tropical storms, the most active since 1992. Hawaii was impacted by several storms this season, although no hurricanes made landfall.
The Atlantic season got off to a fast start as Hurricane Arthur struck the coast of North Carolina over the 4th of July holiday weekend, causing damage to the coastline. It was the earliest hurricane to make landfall in North Carolina. Hurricane Gonzalo hit Bermuda in October, causing wide spread damage to the island. As we reflect back on this hurricane season, it’s important that we remember this year’s theme – it only takes one storm to uproot lives and cause wide spread damage. Though it was a slow season, the events in North Carolina and Bermuda are living examples of this cautionary mantra. This is why the Property Casualty Insurers Association (PCI) encourages all those living in coastal areas to make sure they are ready for severe weather events.
“You could even take advantage of the upcoming Thanksgiving sales and discounts, and purchase items for your emergency kit. Over the holidays use your smartphone to take a video of what’s inside your home and store in the cloud, so it’s easily accessible. If a storm does damage your home you know what needs to be replaced, which will help tremendously in the claims process,” said Hackett.
“Take time this winter to get prepared, know your coverage and take a few minutes to contact your insurer and make sure your family has the right amount of protection. It’s important to be prepared both financially and physically for severe weather, don’t wait until it’s too late.”
PCI 5 Simple Steps to Prepare Now
1.) Review and assess your insurance policy
2.) Develop your emergency and evacuation plan
3.) Practice your plan with your family
4.) Prepare your home with these simple mitigation steps
5.) Create a home inventory
PCI has a wide range of resources available at www.pciaa.net to help homeowners and businesses prepare for severe weather and 2015 hurricane season. Follow us on Twitter @PCIAA and use #becovered to keep the conversation going.
- PCI promotes and protects the viability of a competitive private insurance market for the benefit of consumers and insurers. PCI is composed of nearly 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write more than $195 billion in annual premium, 35 percent of the nation's property casualty insurance. Member companies write 42 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 28 percent of the homeowners market, 33 percent of the commercial property and liability market and 35 percent of the private workers compensation market.
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