The Travelers Foundation, the charitable division of The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV), today announced a new initiative with Habitat for Humanity International and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) to invest in the resilience of local communities by building affordable, wind-resistant homes in coastal regions of the United States. “As an insurer, Travelers has seen firsthand the destruction to homes, businesses and infrastructure caused by extreme wind events, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, and the disruptions to families and businesses that result,” said Eric M. Nelson, Travelers’ Vice President of Enterprise Catastrophe and Analysis. “Travelers believes the risk to life and property can be reduced by constructing more resilient homes, developing sound disaster preparedness plans, improving sensible land use planning and enhancing building codes.” As part of $500,000 in grants provided by the Travelers Foundation in 2012, Travelers sponsored eight pilot Habitat for Humanity builds, which are now underway in Alabama and Mississippi. These homes were constructed in accordance with IBHS’ FORTIFIED construction standards and additional fortified builds are planned in various coastal markets through 2013 and beyond. These construction practices provide practical, meaningful upgrades to strengthen new, as well as existing, structures. Travelers is also funding the development of IBHS training programs and materials to support Habitat affiliates’ efforts to build safer, wind-resistant homes in partnership with low-income families. “For more than 150 years, Travelers has worked to ensure that millions of Americans are protected when things go wrong,” said Marlene Ibsen, Vice President of Community Relations and CEO of the Travelers Foundation. “In that vein, we are proud to support the Habitat organization both financially and through our large base of employee volunteers in this important endeavor.” “Our partnership with Travelers, supported by IBHS and its FORTIFIED program, helps local Habitat affiliates develop neighborhoods with affordable housing built to withstand increasingly unpredictable weather,” said Lysa Ratliff, Senior Director of Corporate Programs at Habitat for Humanity International. “We couldn’t be more pleased to partner with Travelers to create affordable housing that addresses specific needs in coastal communities.”
Building stronger homes is a key principle of the Travelers Coastal Wind Zone Plan, the company’s proposal to improve the availability and affordability of windstorm insurance for homeowners in communities along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. At a 2010 symposium in Mobile, Ala., on “ Mitigation Strategies for the Alabama Coastal Region,” Travelers announced a new wind credit for fortified homes to encourage homeowners, builders and building officials to adopt these disaster resistant standards. The company also donated $15,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Baldwin County at the event, which helped set the stage for the partners’ new initiative to build safer homes.IBHS FORTIFIED Program Manager Fred Malik noted that, “IBHS is proud to partner with Travelers and Habitat for Humanity to build stronger, safer homes. Our partnership demonstrates that you can build affordable homes that incorporate the highest level of disaster-resistant design and construction.” Builds began in Fairhope, Ala., in the summer of 2012 and will continue in key coastal regions throughout 2013. The new program builds on Travelers’ 20-year history of supporting Habitat’s mission:
- Travelers and Habitat for Humanity established a national relationship to support Travelers volunteer builds in 2002, and Travelers’ local support dates back to 1994.
- Since 1994, Travelers has provided nearly $5 million in support of Habitat.
- In 2011, Travelers and the Travelers Foundation granted more than $600,000 to help Habitat create affordable housing in partnership with low-income families across the U.S., and approximately 2,000 employees were engaged as Habitat volunteers.
- This year, Travelers employees participated in approximately 35 builds across the United States, and $250,000 of the $500,000 of Travelers Foundation grants to Habitat in 2012 supported the fortified project.