A cutting-edge research facility that enables insurers to replicate multiple property hazards is open for business.
Located on 90 acres of land in Chester County, S.C., the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBGS)Research Center can accommodate full-scale 1- and 2-story residential and commercial structures and is capable of recreating windstorms, hailstorms, hurricanes and wildfires in a controlled environment. To realistically replicate hurricanes, the lab has a massive array of 105 nearly 6 ft. electric fans that can create winds up to 140 mph.
The center is the only facility of its kind in the world, noted IBHS President & CEO Julie Rochman. "We are very proud to be standing alongside the leaders of the global property insurance industry in this initiative," Rochman said in a statement. "With this lab, they are stepping up and out to publicly demonstrate the extraordinary value they place on protecting families and their home, business owners and their operations, and entire communities from Mother Nature's fury."
Tampa-based IBHS, an organization of insurer and reinsurer members, hopes scientific research done at the facility will enable significant improvements in residential and commercial structure design, construction and maintenance.
"Research conducted in the new IBHS lab will help accelerate the demand for safer homes and businesses and over time will help reduce the loss of life, property damage, and financial impact of natural disasters,” said Michael Zavasky, EVP, Insurance Operations at Erie Insurance Group, and IBHS Board Member. “We look forward to the day when we're able to use data learned in the IBHS lab to help our policyholders spend less time and money recovering from disaster."
Leigh Ann Pusey, president of the American Insurance Association, says the facility underscores the important role the insurance industry has played in risk mitigation. “The insurance industry has a long history of commitment to safety and reducing losses, and this research facility, which is entirely funded by insurers, is another great example of that commitment,” Pusey said “Through similar simulative testing, the auto industry has been able to dramatically improve safety standards and impose life-saving measures for automobile drivers. We expect that the research conducted at this lab by IBHS will have comparable results for those affected by property damage losses and hazards through improved building codes and safety requirements."
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