MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Up to 120 qualified homeowners in Mobile and Baldwin counties will qualify for federal grant money to strengthen their homes against wind damage. With the improvements, homeowners will receive certification that can lower their insurance premiums. That announcement was made Friday, October 18 in Baldwin County.
In what’s being called a pilot program, the Alabama Department of Insurance will be divvying up over $635,920 in FEMA grant money to some area homeowners. The program aims to retrofit homes to protect them from wind damage and in turn, lower their homeowners’ insurance rates.
“As you step up in your ratings from platinum to silver to gold, then you can see a percentage of deduction or lessening of your premium cost,” said AL State Representative, Randy Davis.
Mobile County will see $203,736 in funding leaving Baldwin County with $432,184. The pilot program will be available to qualified homeowners and will cover 75 percent of a wind retrofit project cost, up to $5,000.
While $5,000 may not seem like a lot, with new materials on the market there are many things that can be done to improve the safety and integrity of your home. Your roof can be sealed from the inside and high density fabrics can be used to protect your home’s openings.
“With the fabrics, they are least costly, but highly effective. An average home might be from $3,500 to about $5,500 so this is very realistic,” said local contractor, Labon Richmond of Distinctive Products.
If you plan on qualifying for one of these grants, officials say you can’t go out and start updating your home immediately. That will disqualify your application.
“One of the reasons is we’re concerned about contractor fraud,” noted Deputy Director of the AL Dept. of Insurance, Charles Angell. “Some other states that have had grants have had trouble with contractors saying they did the work or the homeowner saying they did the work and it wasn’t.”
Inspections will be done on homes throughout the retrofit process. The FEMA grant mitigation funds are expected to be awarded out by the end of 2014. If you aren’t one of the lucky ones this time around, don’t lose hope. Alabama Governor, Robert Bentley has plans to allocate $100 million dollars in BP funds towards insurance mitigation in the near future. That could provide the same assistance to up to 22,000 homeowners along the gulf coast.
Applications for the FEMA grants will be taken on a first come, first serve basis and that process will begin October 28.This can be done three ways.
1) By mail: State of Alabama Department of Insurance
P.O. Box 303351
Montgomery, AL 36130-3351
2) By Phone: (334) 241-4192
*Single family, owner-occupied, primary residence
*Have wind and flood insurance policies
*Home structurally sound
*Roof deck attachment
*installation of tested impact-resistant opening protection
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