Residents of Florida will never forget August 1992 when Hurricane Andrew ripped through the state, then on through the heartland of the country, causing more than $30 billion in damage to homes and businesses. The amount of damage from this year’s devastating fires in California is still unknown, but it is rumored the figure could exceed that of Andrew. Photo: Don Norman, ASHI 2004 president elect, Harvey Ryland, IBHS president, and Bill Mason, ASHI Member, discuss making communities safer and responding to disaster at the Institute of Business and Home Safety's annual conference.
Of course, insurance companies are interested in lessening their tremendous losses when these tragedies strike. Alan Carson was President of ASHI the year Hurricane Andrew struck, and he established a task force to investigate how our organization could get involved with loss prevention. Our efforts led us to a small group located in Boston, known as The Insurance Institute for Property Loss Reduction. The Institute is a non-profit organization, funded by many of the major insurance companies.
ASHI builds relationship
In the beginning, we encountered several obstacles when working with homeowners’ insurance companies because they regarded ASHI as a trade group in an unregulated field. We gradually gained their respect as they learned more about ASHI. Ron Passaro, ASHI founder, and I met with executives and emphasized educating the member companies of the Institute about ASHI’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.
ASHI and the Institute entered into a Statement of Understanding, and we were invited to participate in its annual conference and to work with their committees. A great relationship has developed. The Institute moved from Boston to Tampa in 1998 and changed its name to The Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS). ASHI has enhanced its relationship with IBHS by taking steps to develop, protect and police our membership, thereby increasing our creditability. Major steps included adopting an independent examination, The National Home Inspector Exam, and publishing the ASHI Position Statement on the Regulation of Home Inspectors.
ASHI active with safe home coalition
Through IBHS, we learned about FLASH, Inc., the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. Located in Tallahassee, Fla., FLASH is a groundbreaking coalition of government agencies, professional associations and private industry with a common goal to reduce the impact of natural and manmade disasters on every individual.
ASHI is represented on FLASH’s steering committee, and we are helping to develop strategies for getting the organization’s message to consumers. We’ve worked on developing an appropriate slogan for the weather channel to broadcast when flood warnings are issued. You may have seen it. A car is headed to a section of flooded road. Then a sign appears that says, “Turn around, don’t drown."
Homeland security burdens emergency management groups
At a FLASH committee meeting earlier this year, we learned the Depart-ment of Homeland Security now requires each state and local community to have an emergency management plan in place in order to qualify for government funding. This increases the burden of local emergency management departments, and they will be requiring qualified inspectors to be part of the group needed to help implement their plans. I encourage you to go the IBHS (www.ibhs.org) and FLASH (www.flash.org) Web sites to learn more about these activities.
In addition, we challenge every local ASHI chapter nationwide to make contact and develop a relationship with its local and state emergency management organizations. We need to partner with organizations that sponsor loss prevention, whether it be from forest fires, flooding or hurricanes.