The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies applauded the introduction of legislation in the U.S. Senate today to reduce the loss of lives and property from natural disasters by incentivizing the adoption and enforcement of building codes by the states.
"Strong building codes protect property, save lives and ultimately reduce taxpayer exposure to natural disasters," said Jimi Grande, Senior Vice President, Federal and Political Affairs for NAMIC. “Building codes are the simplest and most effective means of mitigating against disaster, as they save lives, reduce damage, and reduce the need for future federal aid."
Introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., the legislation would increase the amount of post-disaster grant money available to qualifying states by four percent. The latest official estimates indicate that the damages associated with Sandy exceed $80 billion. In New Jersey alone, more than 70,000 buildings were seriously damaged.
"Sens. Menendez, Lautenberg, Gillibrand and Schumer are providing strong leadership to make sure that homes and business built today are stronger than those lost to Sandy," Grande said, adding that the provision could be attached to Sandy relief legislation.
Grande pointed to several recent studies that illustrate the effectiveness of strong building codes in mitigating the damage of natural disasters. According to a study conducted by the Louisiana State University’s Hurricane Center, strong building codes, had they been in widespread use throughout the Gulf region in 2005, could have reduced wind damage from Hurricane Katrina by 80 percent, saving $8 billion. Another study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Home and Business Safety found that Florida’s strong building codes helped reduce the severity of property damage from Hurricane Charley by more than 40 percent. And yet another study conducted by Milliman estimated that the provisions of the Safe Building Code Incentive Act could have saved U.S. taxpayers $11 billion in reduced disaster relief costs ensuing from hurricanes over a 25-year period.
"As we help communities recover from the devastating losses Sandy inflicted, we can help reduce the losses, and the need for federal relief, from the next storm," Grande said.
The Senate legislation mirrors the bipartisan H.R. 2069 in the House of Representatives, which currently enjoys bipartisan support of 40 House co-sponsors, including 21 Democrats and 19 Republicans. Introduced in 2011 by Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Albio Sires, D-N.J., the bill has been a top legislative priority of NAMIC in the 112th Congress. The bill is also supported by the BuildStrong Coalition, a group of national business and consumer organizations, corporations, and emergency management officials dedicated to stronger building codes, in order to protect homes and buildings from the devastation of natural disasters.
Contact: Matt Brady
Public Affairs Director - Federal Affairs