Wind mitigation inspections - saving clients on their homeowners insurance
Why Year of Home and Number of Stories are Important
The year your home was constructed is important in determining which building code your home was built to comply with. The more current the building code, the more stringent the requirements for hurricane mitigation/protection it may have.
From an insurance perspective, the year of construction is determined by the date the building permit was issued and may not be the actual year built as this dictates the building code that will apply. These dates can be confusing for some. This is often determined from the property appraiser’s website and/or building permits if available.
The number of stories affects the wind load applied to the home. The taller a structure, the higher wind speeds the home is exposed to.
For example, when the wind blows and a measurement is taken from 5 feet off the ground at 66 mph, the speed at 10 feet is 76.9 mph, 15 feet 84 mph and 33 feet it is 100 mph.
As you can see, the taller the structure, the more at risk the home is to high winds and the more consideration must be taken when underwriting a policy.
Roof Covering and Installation Date
The most important and frequently overlooked element that governs the losses experienced in hurricanes is the roof covering. Roof coverings installed to meet the 1994 SFBC or the 2001 FBC are designed to meet higher wind loads and have been proven to withstand winds better than earlier roofs.
The main reason for the differences in performance is the type of shingle or tile used and the attachment of these same components. The 1994 South Florida Building Code (SFBC) went into effect for Miami-Dade and Broward counties in September of 1995. No other county was required to follow this code. If your home has a roof covering installed in 1998 in Orange county, it most likely DOES NOT meet the 1994 SFBC unless the inspector can document code plus features, which are very unlikely in counties outside Broward or Miami-Dade. The 2001 FBC went into effect in March of 2002 for the entire state.
Homes in all counties meet the requirements of the 2001 FBC if the roof was installed and permitted properly. Here are the relevant dates that your roof covering must comply with, to benefit from wind mitigation credits. Miami-Dade/Broward counties - permit dated on or after 08/31/1995. All other counties - permit date 03/01/2001.
Roof Deck Attachment
Along with the roof covering, how the roof deck is attached to the trusses/rafters plays an important role in your home’s ability to withstand high winds.
The inspector will look for the thickness of roof sheathing, the type of attachment (staple, nail or screw), the size of the nail, and the spacing of those nails. Depending upon the combination of the items listed, the roof deck attachment for the purposes of the wind mitigation for the OIR B1-1802 can be determined. When you receive your mitigation report, the inspector will provide verification photographs of the sheathing thickness, style, nail size, etc., measured with a ruler or other measurement device.
The inspector should also provide photos of the attachment type. Typically they will find a missed nail in the attic and take a photo next to a measurement device showing the size of the nail. The inspector will also mark the roof members showing the attachment spacing. If no photos are present showing these details, your report may be questioned as to its validity and most probably will not be accepted by the insurance carrier.
Roof to Wall Connection
The roof to wall connection is what helps establish the continuous load path from the roof structure through the walls and into the ground. The weaker the connection, the higher probability the roof will lift during high winds.
Inspectors will take photographs of the roof to wall connections so there is no confusion as to the type and connection involved.
Double wraps are rare and reports submitted to carriers with double wraps selected will likely trigger a QA review. Your inspector should take photographs of at least two consecutive trusses showing the attachment. (Often double wraps are installed only on every other truss and the inspector should make ample comments.)
Single wraps are much more common, but from a wind mitigation perspective, often installed incorrectly. In order to be considered single wrap for the roof to wall connection, the strap should be embedded into the top plate of the wall, should have at least two nails on one side of the roof member and then wrap over the top of the truss and be nailed to the other side with at least one nail. If that one nail is missing from the other side, it should be marked Clips, though the photos may look like single wraps.
Toe nailing is more common on older homes and represents the weakest of all connections.
In the more recent mitigation report update, other forms of attachment can be identified under sub-categories of the report. For example, metal roof to wall connectors with insufficient nailing will be downgraded to toe nails. This can be confusing to homeowners. Make sure your inspector explains their findings before they leave the inspection.
Roof shape is one of the most common items incorrectly reported on the OIR 1802 form.
If you read the form carefully, the definition of a Hip roof is a Hip shaped roof with NO OTHER ROOF SHAPE greater than 10% of ANY major wall length.
If there is a gable over a garage and the garage sits on its own wall, the ENTIRE ROOF is classified as Other. If there is one gable greater than 50% of an elevation or wall length, the ENTIRE ROOF is classified as Other. If the roof is all Hip except for a flat portion over a porch that is structurally connected to the roof system and greater than the 10% rule, the ENTIRE ROOF is classified as Other and not Hip.
“Other” requires that the roof be ANY OTHER SHAPE or combination of shapes other than Hip.
Flat roof designations under the new wind mitigating report, relates to multi-family dwellings (5 or more units) where at least 95% of the roof shape slope is flat.
Secondary Water Resistance
A proper SWR will increase your insurance credits significantly depending on the insurance carrier in question. However, having a SWR or not is the million dollar question. To understand whether or not the home does or does not have an SWR, you must first understand the nuances associated with this question.
The 2001 Florida Building Code references the SWR with any reroof or new roof. The difference is that the FBC definition of an SWR is NOT the definition used by the Office of Insurance Regulation on the wind mitigation inspection report (OIR-B1-1802), so just because a roof meets the 2001 FBC, DOES NOT mean it has a qualifying SWR.
Many inspectors incorrectly complete this question because of this confusion. In order to qualify for an OIR SWR credit, you must have a self adhering modified bitumen roofing underlayment applied directly to the roof sheathing or foam SWR sprayed from inside the attic (not foam insulation!).
Photographs of the application of the SWR or other documentation from the roofer or homeowner are required to accompany the report to validate when the SWR is not visible.
Opening protection is by far the most confusing part of the wind mitigation inspection report for not only policyholders, but also insurance agents and inspectors alike. This is especially the case on the older wind mitigation inspection report forms.
Since the inception of the wind mitigation inspection and report, OIR-B1-1802, much progress has taken place to make the inspection and reporting process much more transparent and clear to everyone involved in the wind mitigation industry.
Under the new OIR-B1-1802, the opening protection section has been divided into both window openings and door openings, which is accompanied by an opening protection matrix, clearly identifying the actual protection devices and rating associated with each opening type.
This new update to the new wind mitigation inspection report provides much more clarity to the policyholders who are trying to benefit from insurance credits and discounts that they may be entitled to for their opening protection. If any opening is unprotected, the wind mitigation matrix will clearly outline this on the inspection report and policyholders can determine if it’s financially beneficial to upgrade the opening protection concerned, based on the insurance credit or discount available.
Because opening protection provides the largest discount to policyholders in some regions, policyholders should have all the relevant paperwork relating to the opening protection products, including but not limited to manufacturer’s specification information, building permits, contractor receipts, invoices or other information, notice of acceptance paperwork from the testing facility, or any other information to verify that the opening protection devices are properly rated to receive the maximum discounts or insurance credits available.
Hurricane Andrew was a wake up call for the State of Florida, with billions of dollars of property damage, thousands of people without homes or power, and businesses throughout the region at a standstill for months, many never to be seen again. The true cost of this hurricane was enormous.
Since Hurricane Andrew, we believe mountains have been moved in the hurricane mitigation industry. Extensive research, testing and education has been conducted, to determine how to limit the effect of hurricanes to homeowners and the general public in the state of Florida. It has taken years to get to where Florida is today, and without the commitment of the Florida legislature, not for profit groups and other interested parties, including insurance carriers looking to reduce the risks of hurricanes, these achievements would never have happened.
Today building codes have been updated to not only include but require compliance with the hurricane mitigation standards for both new construction and remodeling. Thousands of homeowners now benefit from these codes, and of course the various wind rated products that have come to surface to meet the stringent requirements for wind resistance. Examples include new wind resistant roof products, windows, doors, structures, protection devices and many more.
Having codes was not enough to encourage existing homeowners to participate in the hurricane mitigation movement. A lot of energy went into the creation of legislation to incentivize homeowners to mitigate their homes from a hurricane perspective. These incentives come in the way of insurance discounts, and the wind mitigation inspections are based on these mandated discounts that are available to every homeowner with insurance in Florida.
When considering having a wind mitigation inspection therefore, understand that the objective is to not only benefit from lower insurance rates based on your current wind resistance, but also get educated on how you can better protect your home and family by possibly upgrading your home to meet higher wind resistant standards.
When homeowners truly understand what mitigation upgrades can be accomplished to receive premium insurance discounts, many times these upgrades are conducted, just as the legislation was set up to do!
This is because the upgrades needed are often simple and/or cost-effective because many homes in high velocity zones, have some protection already in place!
Examples of common mitigation upgrades include providing additional protection for one or more openings, updating roof deck attachment, or installing SWR’s during re-roofing projects. In almost all cases, the cost of mitigation upgrades is less than the discount you may be eligible to receive when the savings are calculated over the validity period of the inspection report: FIVE INSURANCE YEARS!
The cost of upgrading your garage door may be $500, but the savings your home may then qualify for, MAY be as much as $700-1000 per year! (Figures are estimated and vary based on property location and insurance carrier.)