Lawmakers in the state House have unanimously approved a bill that could save Oklahomans money on their homeowners insurance. House Bill 1720 provides discounts for building resilient homes. Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak is excited to see a bill to encourage use of the latest technology to reduce the impact of tornadoes on lives and property.
“Thanks to bipartisan support, our representatives worked as a team to pass this legislation that puts Oklahomans first,” Commissioner Doak said. “This bill would empower homeowners to prepare for the next big storm and require insurers to factor storm-resistant construction into their rates. Having structurally stronger homes is a major step in reducing the damage and corresponding insurance claims from storms, and that’s why I also expect this bill to pass in the Senate.”
Rep. Mark McBride and Rep. Lewis Moore co-authored HB 1720. If a homeowner retrofits or builds a new home to certain specified standards, the bill would require his or her insurance company to factor the more resilient construction into the insurance premium for the home based on the insurance company’s own actuarial analysis.
“I’m proud that our fellow representatives see the value in this bill,” Rep. McBride said. “Oklahomans will see the advantage of having a stronger home with more affordable insurance rates, higher resale value and a home that can withstand up to an EF-2 tornado.”
“Oklahomans know how to respond when there is a disaster,” said Rep. Moore. “But what if we could spare the heartache of a family who just lost their home in a tornado? Resilient construction just makes sense for our state, and I look forward to continuing to work with the insurance industry and Commissioner Doak on this important issue.”
HB 1720 now heads to the Senate. Sen. John Sparks is the Senate author on this legislation.
“I’m looking forward to being this bill’s champion in the Senate,” said Sen. Sparks. “It’s a valuable tool to help all of us get through each storm season with more peace of mind.”
The bill does not mandate building codes or standards. It uses the FORTIFIED construction standards set by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) or the recently-adopted building code for the City of Moore as the designated standards.
The Disaster Resilience Network (DRN) in Tulsa has facilitated the development and building of several FORTIFIED homes in Oklahoma. “The Disaster Resilience Network has been working closely with IBHS on promoting the FORTIFIED Home High Wind and Hail standard designation program in Oklahoma. The passage of this bill is a step forward in building resilient homes in Oklahoma,” said Tim Lovell, DRN executive director.
Commissioner Doak has been a proponent of FORTIFIED Home building standards since witnessing the devastating effects of tornadoes firsthand. At this year’s National Tornado Summit, co-hosted by the Oklahoma Insurance Department, a panel of experts addressed the issue of resilient construction.
“Storm season is here, and we’ve got to be thinking proactively to save lives and property,” Doak said. “This bill is a step in the right direction for our people and our communities to be able to recover faster from tornadoes.”
For more information on IBHS’ FORTIFIED construction standards, click here.