Alabama Center for Insurance
Information and Research

 

 

 

The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research began partnering with the Culverhouse LIFT program in 2017 to help advance the goals of both the center and the program. ACIIR researchers and LIFT Founder and Director Lisa McKinney work together to identify and recruit survey participants for an ongoing analysis of insurance and financial literacy in adult populations through the courses offered by the LIFT program.

The mutually beneficial partnership provides a random sampling of survey participants for the ACIIR staff’s research. The LIFT program receives financial assistance through a grant from the center and the opportunity to better understand how to acquire grants in the future.

 

“It makes us think more about what we are doing and it makes us think about the potential for obtaining grants,” McKinney said. “It makes complete sense to connect this program with research for it to be funded. All of it makes sense. It’s a nice fit.”

Culverhouse LIFT was founded in August 2015 by McKinney and a graduate student, David Hose. They saw the opportunity to help further The University of Alabama’s mission to educate and better the lives of the people of Alabama. Since it began the program has grown every year. In the spring of 2018 more than 400 student volunteers from the College of Business taught more than 45 different classes in 15 locations around the state.


“Right now, we have so many community partners, I am right now not trying to grow,” McKinney said. “I want to get better at what we do, and I want to work with people to assess if we are doing a good job.”

LIFT offers courses to high school students, adults, veterans and inmates. The courses include professional development, financial literacy and GED preparation. A full list of the LIFT programs locations and courses can be found at https://culverhouse.ua.edu/lift. Lift classes range in size from 10 people to full-size high school groups of 30 students.

The program is entirely student run with McKinney acting as an adviser and general overseer. Graduate students, class leads and student volunteers work together to organize logistics and scheduling. Students have the opportunity to learn new skills themselves and build their resumes as instructors and community helpers.

ACIIR researchers train LIFT students to educate community members about auto insurance and how to administer the survey to working-age adults at neighboring community centers during financial literacy and money management courses. Participants receive insurance information and education in addition to the curriculum provided by LIFT volunteers.

"Partnering with LIFT offers us a great opportunity to fulfill our center’s educational and outreach purposes,” said Boyi Zhuang, ACIIR post-doctoral researcher who works directly with the LIFT program. “The surveys we did before and after the training provide us some valuable data that is beneficial to the center's research."

The continued relationship between the ACIIR and LIFT exemplifies the Culverhouse tradition of fueling successful partnerships across industry and education. The ACIIR staff will continue to seek out and seize opportunities to work with talented industry and education groups like LIFT.

 

The Capstone College of Nursing organized an interprofessional research breakfast in Capstone Village on April 5 to highlight the ongoing work of the ACIIR. Dr. Lars Powell was asked to speak before the group of twenty nursing undergraduate and graduate students as well as administration from the College of Nursing and representatives from the College of Commerce.

Powell’s presentation gave a brief overview of the center’s mission and goals before detailing a few of the completed and ongoing projects that the ACIIR is currently pursuing.

“I didn’t even know that [FORTIFIED HomeTM retrofitting] was an option,” said Christine Ferguson, a graduate student studying nutrition. “I just bought a home, and I know we will have to replace the roof in a few years, so that’s just something to consider. It’s eye-opening.”

The interprofessional breakfasts are designed to increase awareness and strengthen connections between the University of Alabama’s various colleges. The breakfasts are typically held twice a year and feature presentations from researchers, authors and community professionals.

Rebeckah Gaydosh, a junior majoring in nutrition, said she was most interested in the resale value of homes that have a Fortified standard since it is applicable to everyday life.

The next interprofessional breakfast is scheduled to take place in the fall semester of 2018.

 

Strengthen Alabama Homes program (SAH) was initially funded in 2016 by the Alabama State Legislature, and private donors including the Federal Home Loan Bank and the AIUA. Since then the program has completed 1,043 fortifications and awarded 1,266 grants to help Alabama homeowners afford wind mitigation construction on their homes to protect against severe storms, high winds and wind driven rain. The program is currently available for existing, owner occupied, single family homes in Mobile and Baldwin counties in Alabama. However, inland homes will be eligible for the next round of funding. 

SAH requires the Bronze or Silver standard of the FORTIFIED HomeTM program developed by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) be met to qualify for the grant program. The FORTIFIED program is designed to construct or retrofit homes to a high resiliency focusing on roofing, entry points and the continuous load path.

Grants provided by SAH will pay 100 percent of the mitigation costs up to $10,000. Any additional costs are the responsibility of the applicant. The grant is only applicable to homes that reach at least the Bronze standard and are certified by a FORTIFIED evaluator.

The work that the SAH is doing will lower insurance rates in Alabama and make homes more resilient and resistant to weather related damage. When homes are built to withstand wind and rain, insurance companies don’t have to pay out as much therefore helping to lower the premiums charged to individuals.

Since it’s implantation SAH has received a health supply of applications. Currently, they are unable to accept new applications as they work to raise additional funding. Due to the success of the program so far, the State of Alabama is at the forefront of the country in home mitigation efforts and in the midst of a planning process to determine how to expand their efforts now and in the future.

After completing the SAH home mitigation, homeowners in Alabama are eligible for discounts on their wind damage coverage.

Another reason to fortify your home is to increase its resale value. ACIIR partnered with FORTIFIED to evaluate the resale value of homes after achieving a FORTIFIED designation. The study finds that homes sell for roughly seven percent more than equivalent, non-FORTIFIED homes.  

Together SAH, ACIIR and FORTIFIED HomeTM are working to better protect against loss during a severe weather situation and increase resiliency in Alabama communities which are vulnerable to catastrophic hurricanes and tornadoes.

 

There are many reasons to purchase a home or auto insurance policy such as financial protection in case of fire, storm or earthquake damage, requirements set by local regulations and help with replacement costs in the event of an accident. However, one reason that often gets overlooked is the possibility of theft.  

Homeowners, renters and auto insurance offer options that can help cover the cost of replacing broken, damaged, or stolen items. However, insurers can only help when the insurance policy is in place.  

In 2016, the total value of stolen property was $257,279,623 in the state of Alabama alone, according to the State of Alabama Law Enforcement annual crime report.  Only 17 percent of the property was recovered.  

While Tuscaloosa has seen a general declining trend in burglary, robbery, auto theft and unlawful breaking and entering of a motor vehicle over the past 10 years, there were still more than a hundred of each crime reported to the Tuscaloosa Police Department in 2016 according to TPD’s annual report.  

Anyone who owns a home should review and update their policy to cover cases of theft and property damage from unlawful activities.  

Tenants who rent or lease their space should invest in low-cost renters’ insurance policies. The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research has published a brochure to help streamline the process of choosing and purchasing a policy. This resource can be found here.  

While property stolen from an automobile is covered by homeowners or renters insurance, automobile owners should talk to their agents about comprehensive coverage that covers the costs of repairing damages to their vehicles from a break-in as well as the cost of a stolen vehicle.  

 

Mandatory workers’ compensation insurance is required in all states except Texas. However, Tennessee and South Carolina are considering adopting an “opt-out” clause similar to that employed by Texas. Alabama fits the profile to also consider making an opt-out clause available in the state.

Dr. Steve Buchheit wanted to know whether a change such as this would be favorable to workers in Alabama. He conducted a study that surveyed 80 respondents through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform in June 2017.

“Surprisingly to me, people were generally happy with workers’ compensation,” Buchheit said. “Before going into a politically charged attempt to allow Alabama companies out of workers’ comp-given that people were happy with the system-you may not want to do that.”

The survey manipulated two court cases, one where workers’ compensation was a positive factor, the other it was a negative. Results indicate that participants understood the benefits and limitations of both situations, but retained their original positive belief in workers’ compensation.

The participants who indicated that they had prior experience with filing for workers’ compensation had a higher opinion of the system and were happier with it overall.

“In general, anything that is mandated and required, I presumed people were going to find fault with it,” Buccheit said. “It’s imperfect but in general it is not a disliked program.”

At a state level, similar states are considering adopting a clause that allows opting out, but the data in this paper would suggest there does not seem to be a lot of motivation for that from workers.

The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research (ACIIR) sponsored Buchheit’s research on worker’s compensation insurance as part of an initiative to encourage insurance research on a variety of topics to inform and educate state lawmakers, insurers and policyholders.

“Prof. Buchheit’s research fits well in ACIIR’s mission,” said ACIIR Director Dr. Lars Powell. “We were pleased to sponsor his efforts and look forward to working with him again. Insurance is a rich and broad topic with lots of opportunity to answer relevant questions.”

Buchheit said future insurance research on this topic may look into professional groups who might have a different view on the matter.

Dr. Buchheit is a professor in the University of Alabama Culverhouse School of Accountancy. His past research has included research into manipulated accounting in hospitals regarding Medicaid, and dishonest tax itemization of non-cash charitable deductions.

 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. –Retail sales are up from last year, and that means renters have more household items to protect. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) recommends renters add a review of their existing insurance coverage to their financial to-do list.

The Alabama Center for Insurance Information at The University of Alabama Culverhouse College of Commerce has partnered with the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, to produce the online interactiveRenters Insurance Guide and printable brochure highlighting the importance of purchasing renter’s insurance.

A renter’s insurance policy can provide a safety net in the event of an accident to help cover the cost of replacing personal items as well as accidental injury coverage for guests staying at the insured property,” said Lars Powell, director of the Alabama Center for Insurance Information.

“This is the perfect time to get your financial house in order, and an evaluation of your insurance policies should always be part of that effort,” says Chris Hackett, senior director of personal lines policy for PCI. “Updating your insurance policies can give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re properly covered for any unexpected events that may occur in the new year.”

“A renter’s insurance policy gives parents, students, workers, and empty-nesters peace of mind that their personal possessions are covered and will be replaced should an unforeseen event like a fire or theft happen,” said Hackett.

It is in everyone’s best interest to have renter’s coverage and talking with your insurer or agent is a great first step. The average consumer spends $1,092 on coffee each year.  However, a renter’s insurance policy on average costs $240 per year.

A typical homeowners insurance policy will provide 10 percent of the personal property coverage limit for items kept away from home such as in a dorm. On the other hand, renter’s insurance also covers the items that students typically take with them to an off-campus apartment.

However, renter’s insurance also provides other important protection such as Additional Living Expense (ALE) coverage to help with expenses should the apartment become uninhabitable due to a covered loss such as a fire. Liability coverage can protect you if a guest injures themselves while visiting your apartment. It’s always good advice to read over your policy to understand what is, and what is not covered.

Renters insurance is affordable and can frequently be bundled with auto insurance to help keep costs low. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the landlord’s insurance will replace the tenant’s personal possessions.  A landlord’s policy will only cover structural damage to the building from fire or wind. The personal belongings of a tenant are not covered under a landlord’s policy.

“As students head back to school with new laptops, tablets, printers, mobile devices, bicycles, stereo equipment, televisions and hard to replace items, it is important to consider protecting them from theft, fire, and accidental loss,” added Powell.

The Online Interactive Renters guide is available here: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/780a0222#/780a0222/1

Renters Insurance Brochure:https://culverhouse.ua.edu/aciir/research

For more information, visitwww.aciir.culverhouse.ua.edu orwww.pciaa.net

The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research provides credible information and research insight for the benefit key stakeholders across the state of Alabama, including policymakers, the public, insurance companies, intermediaries, trade groups, and other parties who need information concerning the management risk. ACIIR is dedicated to providing facts and truths to parties who directly contribute to the economic development of Alabama.

PCI is composed of nearly 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write $216 billion in annual premium, 36 percent of the nation's property casualty insurance. Member companies write 43 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 29 percent of the homeowners market, 34 percent of the commercial property and liability market and 36 percent of the private workers compensation market.

 

 

The University of Alabama College of Engineering in partnership with the Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research, also known as ACIIR, recently sent a team of 13 to areas of Florida impacted by Hurricane Irma to assess damages for a comparative study examining the benefits of FORTIFIED HomeTMconstruction.

Read more at the UA Research News Center.

Dr. George Zanjani (pictured right) was appointed the Frank Park Samford Chair of Insurance. Dr. Daniel Bauer (pictured left) is first holder of the Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company Endowed Chair in Actuarial Science and Risk Management.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - As the first full month of classes draws to a close at The University of Alabama, two new hires in the Culverhouse College of Commerce have settled into their roles. Dr. George Zanjani, ACAS and Dr. Daniel Bauer joined the college’s Insurance & Financial Services, Risk Management, and Actuarial Science (IRMAS) program over the summer.

Bauer and Zanjani bring with them more than 30 entries in academic publications, and the intent to continue to grow their scholarly literature. Their addition to Culverhouse is part of an ongoing strategic plan to grow and improve the college for years to come.

Prior to joining the university, Zanjani served as the inaugural holder of the AAMGA Distinguished Chair in Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) and an associate professor in the RMI Department of Georgia State University (GSU). He served as an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for eight years, specializing in policy work relating to insurance issues in the broader financial system.

“I have a lot to be excited about in joining the IRMAS program,” said Zanjani. “Most importantly, I think Bill Rabel, Robert McLeod, Lars Powell, Harris Schlesinger and the other faculty and staff involved with insurance education and research at Culverhouse have built an incredible foundation for success at Culverhouse.”

Zanjani fills the position of Frank Park Samford Chair of Insurance, which was previously held by Harris Schlesinger, who passed away in 2015. The Chair of Insurance is named in memory of Frank Park Samford Sr., a member of the Alabama Men's Hall of Fame and the namesake of Samford University.

Bauer has also worked at Georgia State University before making the transition to UA. He held the position of Batten Chair in Actuarial Science and Director of GSU’s Master of Mathematical Risk Management program. Additionally, Bauer taught actuarial science, statistics/analytics, and quantitative methods in finance in the Risk Management and Insurance Department at the Robinson College of Business at GSU.

“With UA’s legacy in insurance education and research…I believe UA has the potential to become one of the global hubs for insurance-related research,” said Bauer. “I am very excited to be a part of this.”

Bauer has been appointed the Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company Endowed Chair in Actuarial Science and Risk Management. This chair is in honor of Tsuneta Yano, the founder of Dai-ichi Life. Bauer is the first to ­­­­hold this title.

Bauer and Zanjani’s addition to the department brings with it new ideas and experience.

“With myself and Daniel Bauer joining the faculty, I think we have an excellent opportunity to build on the foundation set before us,” said Zanjani. “For example, in the actuarial space, the revolution in "Big Data" and analytics is expanding opportunities for actuaries to add value, and we will strive to prepare our stude­­nts for this new world.”

Additionally, their added enthusiasm has the potential to invigorate students to start their own research.

“The students are motivated and extremely smart—and based on my experience in the first weeks, there seems to be a lot of interest in actuarial science,” said Bauer. “With the support of the college administration, I believe we can develop a world-class program.”

The IRMAS program educates students on how risks are managed and financed. The program is provided through the Department of Economics, Finance and Legal Studies. The curriculum includes traditional classroom instruction as well as opportunities for professional development within the industry.

The IRMAS program works with numerous departments within Culverhouse. The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research (ACIIR), which provides highly credible information and research insight for the benefit key stakeholders across the State of Alabama, and IRMAS partners on many projects including the upcoming Alabama Insurance Day held at the Bryant Conference Center on Wednesday, Oct. 11.

“George and Daniel are both excellent teachers and researchers,” said Lars Powell, Director of ACIIR. “It is not exaggerating to say they are among the best insurance minds anywhere. Having access to their expertise will expand ACIIR's capabilities.”

The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research (ACIIR) Executive Director Lars Powell spoke to WBRC Fox 6 News about the possibility of change in insurance markets, tips for shopping around, and what questions to ask an insurance agent on September 13, 2017.

Powell spoke to reporter, Ugochi Iloka, about the research the center is doing to encourage, educate, and facilitate smart insurance choices for homeowners.

“Our number one piece of advice is to shop around,” said Powell. “We can’t reiterate this enough.”

Viewers can find the full story here. Additional information on the Alabama Coastal Insurance Shopper’s Guide and Top 10 Homeowners Insurance Questions can be found on the ACIIR website here.

Powell, an insurance expert at the University of Alabama, is available to discuss the effects of severe weather on insurance markets and consumers.

View the full story here.

Contact ACIIR at aciir@culverhouse.ua.edu or (205) 348-4513.

University of Alabama students and faculty in the College of Engineering tested FEMA approved storm shelter wall panels using their custom-built debris canon on September 13, 2017.

This demonstration is part of an ongoing research endeavor to better understand the effect of wind-borne debris during severe weather events on structures. This data can be used to help build cheaper, more robust homes and businesses.

The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research (ACIIR) sponsored construction of the canon, and works closely with the engineering department to use the data across different fields.

The canon fired an 8-ft long wooden 2x4 at 100 miles per hour for this demonstration, but the canon can be loaded with any debris that may be a projectile during a severe weather event.

ACIIR Executive Director Lars Powell is available to discuss the implications of the debris canon testing and its relation to ACIIR research endeavors.

View the story at The Tuscaloosa News or WBRC News.

View the photo gallery at The Tuscaloosa News.

Contact ACIIR at aciir@culverhouse.ua.edu or (205) 348-4513.

 

The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research (ACIIR) Executive Director Lars Powell spoke to the Alabama Homebuilders Association in Montgomery Ala., on September 12, 2017 and again in Dothan, Ala. on September 13, 2017 about the value of FORTIFIED HomeTM construction.

The ACIIR is partnering with the Alabama Home Builders Association to educate real estate appraisers, agents, and home builders about the value of FORTIFIED construction.

The ACIIR research team, in cooperation with faculty at Auburn and Ole Miss, produced a study last year showing that the FORTIFIED designation increases home sale value by 7 percent or more.

“The average home in our study sold for $295,000,” said Powell. “That is a $20,650 increase in the price of a home.”

Powell is available to discuss the importance of FORTIFIED HomeTM construction and designation as well as the study documenting its effect on home values.

Contact ACIIR at aciir@culverhouse.ua.edu or (205) 348-4513.

Photo Credit: NOAA

 
 
 
 
 
 

With the possibility of Hurricane Irma entering the Gulf of Mexico and making landfall in the southeast, Alabamians need to be prepared.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Irma has been upgraded to a Category 5 hurricane with the potential to cause catastrophic damage to property and human life.

Here are some steps you can follow to be prepared for the possibility of severe weather:

  1. Be aware of current weather updates in your area. You can do this on social media, your local news station, or a weather radio.
  2. Know your current emergency and evacuation plan.
  3. Make your insurance coverage a part of your emergency plan.
  4. Take time to make a home inventory.
  5. Have an emergency readiness supply kit ready.
  6. Write a list of any prescription drug doses and numbers in case of an extended evacuation.  
  7. Check on your neighbors and coworkers. Together you can be better prepared.

See the Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research’s website or social media pages for access to guides explaining the value of homeowner’s insurance and helpful tips in insuring your home.

Be safe Alabama.

Follow ACIIR here or on any of our social media pages:

The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research (ACIIR) sends its researchers to numerous conferences around the world to promote and inform other industry experts about the research they do at the center. Through paper presentations, lectures and panels, the director and his team of talented researchers showcase the best, innovative work they have completed.

In the remainder of 2017, the ACIIR will be represented at four confirmed conferences.

  • September 19-22: SITA in Vail, Colorado

Director Lars Powell will attend the State Insurance Trade Association (SITA) national conference in Vail, Colorado. He will work with other industry specialists to better understand the many faceted subject of insurance. The connections he makes while in attendance will garner further support and motivation for the center.

  • September 24-27: NAMIC in Denver, Colorado

Director Lars Powell will attend the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) annual convention in Denver, Colorado. At last year’s event the total attendance exceeded 1,900 individuals, more than 1,150 senior insurance executives participated, and more than 150 property/casualty companies were represented.

Dr. Powell will have the opportunity to connect with representatives from around the country and learn about the numerous topics covered at the annual meeting. Some of these opportunities include speeches from the keynote speakers:

  1. Scott Stratten, Disruptive and UN-traditional Sales, Marketing, Branding and Relationship Expert
  2. Kevin Poulsen, Cyber Crime Expert and Author of “Kingpin”
  3. Michael Hayden, Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and Former Director of the National Security Agency
  • October 11: I-Day in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The entire ACIIR staff will be present at the Alabama Insurance Day (I-Day). The Alabama Insurance and Risk Management Education Foundation at the University of Alabama organizes the event in cooperation with The Alabama Insurance Planning Commission and the Alabama Department of Insurance as well as the Culverhouse College of Commerce.

The ACIIR will have an exhibition table to discuss current projects and future goals as well as educate attendees about the mission statement of the center. The event will be held in the Bryant Conference Center.

  • October 25-27: FLASH in Atlanta, GA

Associate Researcher Sebastain Awondo will be attending the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia in October. He will present a research paper, Measuring the Value of FORTIFIFIED HomeTM Construction on Home Resale, which details the increase in home value after conforming to FORTIFIED HomeTM building standards.

The conference will also feature presentations from experts and leaders from The American Institute of Architects, State Farm Insurance, USAA, and many others.

These and additional conference opportunities that may arise this year are just one of the many ways the ACIIR continues to further expand its influence and educate the public about the mission of the center.

 

The summer months offer a full schedule of conference opportunities for researchers. The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research (ACIIR) is pleased to announce a full line-up of presentations for its researchers.

The ACIIR’s representative researchers will attend four conferences with experts from their field between the months of August and November. These conferences are an important networking opportunity as well as a chance to generate interest in the academic and practical contributions the ACIIR provides.

In August, the ACIIR sent Director Lars Powell, Associate Researcher Sebastain Awondo, and Postdoctoral Researcher Boyi Zhuang to the international gathering of insurance experts held by the American Risk and Insurance Association (ARIA).

“Attending others' presentations and talking with these people offered me some great ideas and insights for future research,” said Zhuang. “Overall, this year's ARIA meeting was one of the best organized conferences and it offered a wonderful experience.”

Powell and Zhuang presented their joint project, Automobile Insurance and Credit Shocks: Evidence of Market Competition from Credit-Based Insurance Scoring to the gathering.

“Dr. Zhuang and I use data on insurance prices and credit scores to estimate a relationship,” said Powell. “Our results show that increasing credit risk actually decreased the price of automobile insurance during the recession. While this result might seem counter-intuitive on its face, we develop a consistent theory and test for empirical robustness. As credit gets worse, insurance pricing becomes more accurate. This forces insurers in a competitive market to reduce prices.”

As the students return to The University of Alabama’s campus this fall, the ACIIR is looking ahead to the upcoming conferences with anticipation.

“The most important reason for attend this type of conference is to learn about other scholars’ research,” said Powell. “At ARIA 2017, I watched 18 research or practice-oriented presentations on a spectrum of insurance-related topics.”

 

White House Panel Discusses New Study by UA’s Insurance Research Center

FORTIFIED Resilient Building Standard Increases Home Value

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – A new study on the resale value of fortified home construction by The University of Alabama’s Insurance Research Center was the topic of discussion today at the White House. The panel discussed property loss mitigation – past, present, and future – at this morning’s White House Forum on Smart Finance for Disaster Resilience. The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research, and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety were present for the panel discussion.

"This report is a great example of the practical application of academic research methods,” said Lars Powell, director of the Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research. “We are very confident in the results and hope they will affect public and private behavior to make exposed communities more resilient to natural disasters."

“During the past eight years, committed leadership from the White House has effectively framed and advanced the issue of mitigation throughout the public and private sectors,” said Debra Ballen, IBHS general counsel and senior vice president, public policy. “Today, people at all levels of government, as well as businesses and individuals are more focused on mitigating damage from severe weather risks than ever before.”

When asked what successful mitigation looks like, Ballen said strong, well-enforced building codes are the starting point, but there are limitations with codes. She noted that 13 states do not currently have statewide codes in place and many locations with codes do not enforce them effectively.

“This led IBHS to develop its voluntary, market-based FORTIFIED Home™ program, which is a set of engineering and building standards designed to help strengthen new and existing homes through system-specific building upgrades to minimum code requirements that reduce damage from specific natural hazards,” Ballen said.

The study, “Estimating the Effect of FORTIFIED™ Home Construction on Home Resale Value,” is about the effect of IBHS FORTIFIED Home™ designations on home values in Mobile and Baldwin counties in Alabama.

ACIIR’s study found that switching from a conventional construction standard to a Fortified designation increases the value of a home by nearly 7 percent---holding all other variables constant. Our findings suggests that building Fortified houses or retrofitting houses to meet Fortified standards is an economically sound investment. The additional cost of building or retrofitting is frequently is less than 7 percent of home value; therefore, the benefit of a Fortified designation is very likely to outweigh costs. This is without considering other direct benefits such as insurance premium discounts, potential uninsured rebuilding costs, and the inconvenience of temporary housing following a disaster. ACIIR adds that given the robustness of statistical results, they believe it appropriate for appraisers and financial institutions to reflect Fortified designations in appraisals for use in the mortgage process.

In addition to ACIIR staff, the report is coauthored with professors from Auburn University and the University of Mississippi with expertise in finance and real estate.

“This is tangible evidence that FORTIFIED homes are not only more disaster-resistant, they also are being valued higher in the marketplace,” Ballen said. “We need only look at the FORTIFIED homes that survived Hurricane Ike in 2008 on the Bolivar Peninsula in Texas, while virtually all others around them were demolished, to know FORTIFIED is a robust and effective resilient construction standard. Thanks to Dr. Powell’s research, we now know that FORTIFIED also increases the financial value of homes.”

A copy of the study can be downloaded at aciir.culverhouse.ua.edu/FortifiedStudy

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About the Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research
The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research provides highly credible information and research insight for the benefit of key stakeholders across Alabama, including policymakers, the public, insurance companies, intermediaries, trade groups and other parties that need information concerning the management risk. The center is dedicated to providing facts to parties who directly contribute to the economic development of Alabama. Learn more at aciir.culverhouse.ua.edu.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state‘s economy, is in keeping with UA‘s vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state‘s flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.
 

CONTACT: Edith Parten, UA media relations, eparten@Culverhouse.ua.edu 205/348-8318

SOURCE: Patty Pohuski, communications specialist, ACIIR, pvpohuski@culverhouse.ua.edu, 205/348-4513

 

UA’s Insurance Research Center Produces Tornado Preparedness Guide

 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Five years ago, more than 200 people lost their lives and more than 2,000 injuries were reported from the April 27 tornado outbreak that swept across the state of Alabama. On that day, 35 of 67 Alabama counties suffered damage and 23,552 homes were damaged or destroyed.

Today, the state is remembering those that lost their lives and homes during the outbreak, but it’s also promoting resilience and rebuilding as it looks to the future.

The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research at The University of Alabama Culverhouse College of Commerce has partnered with the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, the Alabama Department of Insurance and Smart Home America to produce the 2016 Tornado Preparedness Guide & Insurance Tips for the state of Alabama.

“Recent studies show that most people have short memories surrounding disasters,” said Lars Powell, director of the Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research. “As unpleasant as it may be to remember a terrible storm, if we don’t keep the public’s attention, we will not be ready for the next event.”

The guide not only shares how state residents can prepare ahead of time for storms but also how they can work with insurance companies in the recovery process. The guide also offers various facts and information about some of the deadliest and costliest tornado outbreaks, including details from the April 27, 2011 outbreak.

“Tornado preparedness saves lives,” said Jim Ridling, commissioner of insurance for the state of Alabama. “The time between detection and devastation is very short, and public education is the best strategy to keep people safe during tornadoes.”

Home and business owners will also find information about how to build stronger and safer properties through the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s FORTIFIED™ program. FORTIFIED uses a unique, systems-based method for creating stronger, safer homes and is based on more than 20 years of research, testing and real-world observations by IBHS.

“If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we are more likely to repeat them,” Powell said. “Stronger construction methods could have prevented more than 85 percent of the losses to property from the storm, but many homes and businesses were rebuilt exactly as before.”

The guide is available here.

For more information, visit www.aciir.culverhouse.ua.edu.

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About the Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research
The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research provides highly credible information and research insight for the benefit of key stakeholders across Alabama, including policymakers, the public, insurance companies, intermediaries, trade groups and other parties that need information concerning the management risk. The center is dedicated to providing facts to parties who directly contribute to the economic development of Alabama. Learn more at aciir.culverhouse.ua.edu.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state‘s economy, is in keeping with UA‘s vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state‘s flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.
 

CONTACT: Edith Parten, UA media relations, eparten@Culverhouse.ua.edu 205/348-8318

SOURCE: Patty Pohuski, communications specialist, ACIIR, pvpohuski@culverhouse.ua.edu, 205/348-4513

 

UA’s Insurance Center Welcomes New Researcher

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research at The University of Alabama Culverhouse College of Commerce has welcomed a new associate researcher to its team.

Dr. Sebastain Awondo began as the center’s new associate researcher in January.

Awondo will continue the center’s efforts in providing information and research insight for key stakeholders across Alabama. His research includes insurance ratemaking and loss reserving, catastrophic risk, decision making under risk and uncertainty, insurance regulation, micro-insurance and predictive modeling.

“I am thrilled to accept this position because it gives me a great platform and access to resources that will allow me conduct cutting-edge research, as well as help shape public and private policy in multiple areas of insurance and risk management,” Awondo said. “This is what I enjoying doing and see myself doing in the foreseeable future.”

Awondo obtained his doctorate in applied economics and a Master of Science in statistics from The University of Georgia. He is the recipient of The University of Georgia AAE outstanding Ph.D. student award in 2014 and the Cameroon Ministry of Higher Education best student award in 2001.

His research has published in Agricultural Economics and Marine Resource Economics with additional articles under review.

Prior to joining the center, he served as post-doctoral research associate at The University of Georgia, Tifton Campus and a research economist with RTI International in RTP North Carolina. He also served as programs support officer for DED/COMINSUD in Cameroon where he helped design, implement and evaluate several economic development projects.

“We are very excited to have Dr. Awondo join the center,” said Lars Powell, center director. “His skill set expands our technical capabilities and will help keep us on the leading edge of research to support our mission.”

Powell is available for interviews. For more information, visit www.aciir.culverhouse.ua.edu.

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About the Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research
The Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research provides highly credible information and research insight for the benefit of key stakeholders across Alabama, including policymakers, the public, insurance companies, intermediaries, trade groups and other parties that need information concerning the management risk. The center is dedicated to providing facts to parties who directly contribute to the economic development of Alabama. Learn more at aciir.culverhouse.ua.edu.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state‘s economy, is in keeping with UA‘s vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state‘s flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.
 

CONTACT: Edith Parten, UA media relations, eparten@Culverhouse.ua.edu 205/348-8318

SOURCE: Patty Pohuski, communications specialist, ACIIR, pvpohuski@culverhouse.ua.edu, 205/348-4513