A unique program developed by Smart Home America and funded by The Allstate Foundation is teaching insurance agents about the FORTIFIED HomeTM construction standard through volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.
Mobile and Baldwin County Allstate Insurance Agents, along with Coastal Select and GeoVera Specialty Insurance representatives, got their hands dirty to gain a deeper understanding of how a home is strengthened against hurricanes and severe weather. After a traditional, classroom style training late last year, the agents were provided an onsite tour of a FORTIFIED home under construction before being put to work. They installed hurricane straps, caulked seams for energy efficiency and installed interior plywood on a Habitat for Humanity of Southwest Alabama home under construction in west Mobile, Alabama.
The event, a partnership with Habitat for Humanity and Smart Home America, is designed to provide hands-on education about the FORTIFIED method of construction through volunteering. It also has the benefit of providing a team building activity for participants while connecting them to their community.
“We were able to see and do what we’ve been reading and hearing about,” said Ken Morgan, Allstate Agent in Saraland, Alabama. “Being able to share the experience of helping a family build their home was great! Now, I’ll be able to help my clients and their families better understand FORTIFIED and how it can help them save money and stay safe.”
Habitat for Humanity has long been a partner of Smart Home America and the idea of teaching people about how to build stronger homes through volunteering was a natural development of the relationship. Beginning in 2010, Habitat built some of the very first FORTIFIED homes in Coastal Alabama, and since 2012-13 have been constructing homes to the FORTIFIED Gold standard across the Mississippi and Alabama coasts. Building this way lowers the insurance rates for their homeowners and ensures the homes are durable, providing a stable future for their families.
The on-site volunteer training was a pilot event for Smart Home America before launching the model in the eight other states where the organization works. Plans are already coming together with local Habitat for Humanity affiliates and Allstate agents in some of those areas, and preliminary discussions are underway with other insurance companies as well. Additional stakeholders, such as those in real estate, are also interested.
“We started out in Coastal Alabama fundraising in partnership with Habitat to prove that FORTIFIED construction could be done affordably, that it worked and why it worked,” stated Julie Shiyou-Woodard, President and CEO of Smart Home America. “Now FORTIFIED is the new standard, and we can focus on real-time, hands-on learning, while giving participants a team building, giving back, connecting with your community experience. This one of a kind training is good for all involved. Thank you to everyone for believing this would work, especially The Allstate Foundation.”
Feedback about the volunteer teaching program has been overwhelmingly positive so far. Learn more about Smart Home America, their partnership with Habitat for Humanity and The Allstate Foundation on SmartHomeAmerica.org.