Mitigate Tornado Risk to Prevent Loss and Reduce Costs
Approximately 1,000 tornadoes occur each year in the United States, causing an average of $1.1 billion in property damage and 80 deaths. You and your clients can manage tornado risk by preventing losses and mitigating potential damage. While portions of a property claim from tornado damage are covered, there are always out of pocket costs from deductibles, coinsurance or valuation, not to mention the inconvenience that a claim causes to lost productivity.
Build It Right
The 2017 National Tornado Summit was recently held in Oklahoma City where attendees gathered to discuss tornados, hail, earthquake, flood, emergency preparedness and disaster response. One session of particular interest to many was a presentation on construction of fortified buildings that withstand high winds from severe convection storms. While construction to this standard is more costly upfront, the benefit of reduced losses more than offsets the initial construction costs. This is realized through savings of deductibles and coinsurance, along with increased productivity following a natural disaster.
There are different classifications of fortified buildings depending on the area of the country and exposure to natural weather patterns, each with a different budget and resilience goal. Information on fortified construction as well as guidelines for improvements and retrofitting of existing structures to meet the construction standards can be found at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.
No building can be completely immune to wind, but building a more secure structure can improve the outcome when facing extreme weather. A few key takeaways of the session include:
- Use class IV shingles. The additional cost on a 2,000 square foot structure averages $1,200-$1,600 and substantially improves outcomes in EF-0 and EF-1 wind storms.
- Diagonal 2×4 bracing across studs of a wall provides additional support to withstand wind.
- Additional nailing, bracing and sealing of the roof deck to the structure will help secure the roof to the structure of the building.
- The structure should be securely braced to the foundation, which can be achieved with the use of J-hooks installed during the pouring of the foundation to gain higher levels of protection. This approach is more costly and requires adequate advanced planning.
- Invest in protection of openings. Once the structure envelope is breached, wind pressure can enter and cause the structure to fail.
- Work with a construction firm versed in fortified certification, and willing to provide the documentation and steps during the construction process of certification.
Upgrade Existing Structures
If new construction is not in the plans, existing structures can be improved through retrofitting. These measures may include bracing and strapping the roof, adding fasteners or roof covers as building components are maintained, making entry doors more wind-resistant, or building a safe room to protect against tornados. The surrounding property can also be made safer by identifying and removing trees and branches that could fall on buildings, inspecting and repairing loose or damaged siding, soffit and fascia, and by avoiding using built-up roofs with aggregate or pavers on the surface. These measures will help to increase the safety of an existing structure and reduce wind-borne debris.
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