IBHS research shows two critical ways to reduce risk of storm damage ahead of potentially active hurricane season

Non-profit provides free science-backed Hurricane Ready guide to help homeowners prepare

Richburg, SC (June 11, 2024) – With an active hurricane season forecast for 2024, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) encourages homeowners to act now to reinforce their properties against severe weather. IBHS researchers have identified the roof and garage doors as the areas of homes particularly vulnerable and most important to strengthen to withstand storms. These two home improvements top the nonprofit’s Hurricane Ready guidance, which also includes DIY maintenance projects and tips to complete now and last-minute storm prep.

“The number one goal is to stop cascading damage,” said IBHS Chief Engineer Dr. Anne Cope. “When rain, wind and storm pressure enter a home, damage that starts out as relatively minor escalates quickly and often forces families out of their homes for extensive home repairs. That’s especially disheartening because we now know this is largely preventable.”

IBHS testing shows asphalt shingles, particularly as they age, can dislodge in winds as low as 60 mph. Once the roof cover is lost, rain can pour into a house through the gaps in the wood roof decking.

“Our research estimates the equivalent of nine bathtubs of water can enter a home for every inch of rain that falls on a traditional roof deck where space between the boards is exposed,” Cope explained. “The good news is there are four different ways to cover these gaps and reduce this risk by as much as 95%.”

When re-roofing, IBHS recommends homeowners ask their contractor to follow its free FORTIFIED standard. Based on decades of research, FORTIFIED is a voluntary beyond-code construction and re-roofing method that strengthens buildings against severe weather.

Lab studies and real-world events show FORTIFIED significantly reduces damage from winds up to 130 mph. Homeowners can opt to seek a FORTIFIED designation, which requires third-party verification that the standard has been met giving them extra peace of mind.

IBHS also recommends inspecting garage doors to be sure they are labeled validating a wind rating of 130 mph or higher. If a garage door fails, pressure builds inside the garage and pushes up on the roof and out against surrounding walls, often resulting in a cascade of structural damage to the entire building. If a garage door is not labeled as wind resistant, it should be replaced or reinforced to provide needed protection.

“In an ideal world, homeowners wouldn’t have to worry about securing garage doors or upgrading roofs because their building code would ensure their home was safe and secure,” explained IBHS Managing Director for Standards and Data Analytics Dr. Ian Giammanco. “Incredibly, though, less than 35% of American communities have adopted and updated modern building codes.”

In its fifth edition of Rating the States, IBHS evaluates building code adoption, enforcement and contractor licensing in the 18 states along the hurricane coastline. It shows some states work to ensure homes are resilient against extreme weather, but many communities remain vulnerable as state or local jurisdictions fail to adopt or enforce modern building codes or allow their codes to lapse and become outdated. In fact, after being scored on a 100-point scale, there was a 73-point disparity between top-rated Virginia and lowest-ranked Delaware.

“While enforced, modern building codes provide community resilience, all homeowners can take actions now, before the next storm, to provide additional protection against severe weather,” explains Giammanco. “There are things you can do even for tropical storms, which have winds that wouldn’t ordinarily cause damage, such as securing loose items around your yard or trimming trees that may overhang your roof to reduce your risk of damage.”

Wind-driven rain produced by hurricanes and tropical storms can also enter structures through unsealed windows and doors leading to damaged walls, flooring and furniture. Caulking or sealing cracks and gaps around these openings can reduce this risk. Visit IBHS’s Hurricane Ready guide for additional preparedness tips.

About the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)

The IBHS mission is to conduct objective, scientific research to identify and promote effective actions that strengthen homes, businesses and communities against natural disasters and other causes of loss. Learn more at ibhs.org.


Based on decades of research by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), FORTIFIED is a voluntary, beyond-code construction and re-roofing method to strengthen homes and businesses against severe weather, including high winds, hurricanes and tornadoes. To learn more about the program, including the designation process, visit fortifiedhome.org.

SOURCE: Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety