South Carolina’s innovative program for coastal homeowners who have taken measures to protect their homes against hurricane winds has surpassed its 1,000th awarded grant. Specifically, according to Scott Richardson, director of the South Carolina Department of Insurance, said that the SC Safe Home Program has awarded a total of 1,010 grants worth roughly $4.6 million to coastal residents in the last two years.
Homes that have been retrofitted to withstand hurricane-force winds are considered better risks by insurance companies, Richardson explained. He also said that homeowners who completed such mitigation projects have reported up to 24% savings on their property insurance premiums.
Under the SC Safe Home Program, grants of up to $5,000 are available for owner-occupied homes either on a matching or non-matching basis. To date, grants have been awarded to homeowners in eleven different coastal counties.
Reports from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) indicate that there is a savings of $4 in possible losses and reconstruction costs for every dollar spent on mitigation. Based on that information, said Richardson, Safe Home has reduced the potential loss and future reconstruction cost from a hurricane or severe wind event by more than $18.2 million.
What’s the best mitigation step a homeowner can take? Officials in the insurance industry say the best bet is to replace the existing roof with a stronger, safer roofing system. 76% of grant recipients have chosen to do that with their Safe Home funds. Homeowners who have selected additional replacements, including impact resistant window systems and hurricane shutters, have reported an additional savings of up to 29% on energy costs.
According to Richardson, Safe Home has also created construction and home improvement jobs in South Carolina. So far, there are 81 certified inspectors and 58 certified contractors are working with the program.