Mississippi Hires AIR Engineers for Study of Hurricane Mitigation Efforts

April 23, 2009

Mississippi has hired a wind engineering firm to assess the various steps that property owners might take to reduce damage from hurricanes.

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney and wind engineering firm AIR Worldwide have agreed to terms on a contract on a cost/benefit study required by the Mississippi Legislature leading to development of a hurricane wind damage mitigation program.

The study will estimate the costs and benefits associated with various residential and commercial construction features which can “mitigate” or reduce hurricane wind losses.

AIR Worldwide said it will also recommend the best ways to encourage use of these features in both new and existing structures, by providing incentives in property insurance premiums and education about the return on investment in mitigation.

“This is a very important first step in protecting lives and property in Mississippi,” Chaney said. “Once the specific requirements for Mississippi are established, we can begin to implement further steps in individual homes if funding becomes available. Not only would the property be more wind resistant and safer for the occupants, but this will lead to significantly lower premiums in the hurricane areas.”

The program encourages the use of metal shutters, reinforced roofs, metal straps to hold roof trusses and supports to the building walls and foundation and corrective action for garage and carports damage. Homes recently built to the International Residential Code (IRC) or fortified building codes and existing homes that are mitigated may qualify for reimbursement grants and insurance discounts under the program.

Findings of the cost/benefit study, scheduled to be completed this summer, will be used to develop a grant program for homeowners to implement the recommended measures.

MID will also publish the results of the cost/benefit study so that insurance companies can voluntarily move towards discounts for homeowners who take the appropriate mitigation steps.

At this time all the funding needed for the program has not materialized, but Chaney said he will continue to search for sources of funding.

AIR Worldwide has pioneered catastrophe modeling technology that has been used in more than 50 countries worldwide. AIR is headquartered in Boston.

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