Mount Pleasant Property owners blessed with the beauty of the Carolina coast also are cursed by the threat of the real possibility of serious wind damage. Their plight is especially uncertain during the hurricane season, June 1 through Nov. 30, when they must watch and wait as potentially devastating storms roll across the Atlantic Ocean toward the Lowcountry.
In South Carolina, where the legend of Hurricane Hugo, a massive 1989 storm, continues to grow, lawmakers stepped in to help out by passing the Omnibus Coastal Property Insurance Reform Act of 2007. One of the bill’s most important provisions established the South Carolina Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program – also known as SC Safe Home – which offers grants to fortify homes valued at up to $300,000 against the damaging effects of high winds from hurricanes and other severe storms. It also provides discounts or credits on insurance policies for retrofitted homes.
“We are the only grant program like this in the United States,” said Ann Roberson, director of SC Safe Home. “Other states with coastal exposure, such as Alabama and Mississippi, are working to implement programs like SC Safe Home.”
SC Safe Home, which operates within the South Carolina Department of Insurance, provides funds to individual homeowners to make their property more resistant to hurricane and wind damage. The program does not reimburse homeowners for work that has already been done.
“Our program was created as an incentive for homeowners to be motivated in retrofitting their homes,” said Roberson. “We also wanted to make the South Carolina property insurance market more attractive to insurance companies and make properties more secure and sustainable.”
Prior to applying for grants of up to $5,000, homeowners must have their residence inspected by a qualified home inspector, with the charge for this service capped at $150.
Jeffrey M. Donaldson, president of ACE Preferred Inspections, is a certified wind inspector who has served the Charleston area for 15 years.
“People are definitely interested in the grant money, but mostly it’s about the savings on homeowner’s insurance,” said Donaldson. “The savings are pretty substantial, and it goes with the home even if it is sold.”
The most common retrofit is a new roof, followed by adding a second water barrier.
“These definitely provide the most bang for your buck,” Donaldson said.
“The South Carolina Wind and Hail Underwriting Association helps fund us,” Roberson said. “The program works well, and we anticipate it to continue for years to come. SC Safe Home is such a positive program, and we have had satisfying feedback from homeowners.”
SC Safe Home also is financially supported by a portion of the tax collected on wind and hail insurance policies.
To learn more about SC Safe Home, visit www.SCSafeHome.SC.gov.