What is the Strengthen Alabama Homes program (SAH)? SAH provides grants to residents of Baldwin and Mobile Counties in Alabama for residential wind mitigation on existing, owner occupied, single family homes. Funding for this program comes from the insurance industry in Alabama and is not funded from the state’s general budget, nor is it tied to a federally funded program.
What is wind mitigation? Wind mitigation consists of construction methods that strengthen a home against severe storms, high winds and wind driven rain. Mitigation reduces the risk of damage during storms, and in Alabama, provides homeowners discounts to their wind insurance premium and deductible.
What is FORTIFIED™? The mitigation standard adopted by the Strengthen Alabama Homes program is known as the FORTIFIED Home™ program and it was developed by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS). To receive this grant, you must reach the IBHS FORTIFIED Bronze or Silver standard. Learn more about FORTIFIED™ by visiting www.fortifiedhome.org.
What should I know?
Applicants should understand the following before applying:
- Grants will pay 100% of the cost of mitigation up to $10,000
- The grant award amount MAY NOT cover the entire cost of the work needed
- Work completed must meet the FORTIFIED™ Bronze or Silver standard
- Homeowners must pay a small fee for the FORTIFIED™ Evaluation
- The grant award amount will not be visible until all three bids are received
How do I apply? The first step is to create a profile, complete the questions and upload the required documentation: income verification and insurance declaration pages. The next step is to choose a FORTIFIED Evaluator™.
What is a FORTIFIED Evaluation? A FORTIFIED evaluation is a required step in the FORTIFIED process and provides homeowners and contractors an understanding of the work needed to mitigate a home. A certified FORTIFIED EvaluatorTM will perform an initial review of the current condition of the home and provide documentation of the steps needed to reach either the FORTIFIED Bronze or Silver level. As mitigation continues, the Evaluator will work with your chosen contractor to document all the work and submit the home for certification.
Choosing a contractor Once your home passes the evaluation, you will choose three contractors from a list of SAH qualified and trained contractors to provide bids for the specific work needed on your home. Once all three bids are submitted, you will receive the grant award letter before mitigation work begins.
Grant Amount If there are any costs above the grant award amount, these will be the responsibility of the homeowner. Contracts for all mitigation work will be between the contractor and the homeowner. When the mitigation work is completed on your home and you receive an IBHS FORTIFIED designation (a certificate), we will issue payment up to the grant amount stated in your award letter.
What are the costs? FORTIFIED Evaluators charge a small fee for their service. These fees vary by evaluator, so please seek several bids prior to selecting the professional you will work with. Although you are required to pay a small fee for the evaluation, the SAH grant program is not a reimbursement program and you are not required to pay for the work on your home up-front.
What are the benefits? Homes with a FORTIFIED Designation in Alabama receive discounts on the wind portion of their homeowner’s insurance premium. Additionally, a new study from the University of Alabama shows that FORTIFIED homes sell for nearly 7% more than non-FORTIFIED homes. Contact your insurance agent for discount details. Once your project is complete, SAH will ensure you are receiving the appropriate insurance discount.
Shop Your Insurance! Whether you apply for a grant or not, we encourage you to shop for homeowner’s insurance to ensure you have the coverage that is best for you and your family. Use the Alabama Coastal Insurance Shopper’s Guide to help you ask the right questions and get the protection you and value you need.
Learn More Please contact us if you have questions concerning wind mitigation opportunities in Alabama.
Apply Click on the Begin your Application button below to start the application process. You will then be prompted to begin your grant application.
- Residents of Baldwin and Mobile County that claim their primary residents in those counties may apply. (You cannot live in a condominium or mobile home.)
- Your home must be in good repair.
- You must provide proof that you have an in-force homeowners insurance policy before the grant will be paid.
- You must have flood insurance if you are located in a special flood hazard area.
- You must get a home evaluation from a Certified FORTIFIED Evaluator who is approved by the Strengthen Alabama Homes program. You will have the opportunity to select your Evaluator after you fill out an application.
- You must be able to provide proof that you have an in-force wind insurance policy on your home at the completion of the mitigation work.
- Payment will be issued to you, the homeowner, for mitigation work done on your home only after you satisfy all the requirements for the grant. It is your responsibility as the homeowner to pay your contractor.
How Much Will I Qualify For?
The grant amount issued for this program will cover 100% of the cost of the mitigation up to $10,000. The applicant is responsible for paying all costs for their mitigation project that exceed $10,000. This grant must be applied to a mitigation project that meets all other program requirements and completes a Fortified designation.
- Property insurance coverage.
- Coverage against damage from wind.
This may be included with property insurance, or may be a separate policy.
- If applicable, proof of flood insurance on the property to be mitigated.
You may review the FEMA FIRM maps to determine if the property needs to have flood insurance coverage. Please visit www.fema.gov to learn more about flood insurance and if your property is located in a floodplain.
Please do not send supporting documents such as W-2’s, Schedule A, etc.
- Tax Return Form 1040
We need all pages of the form to include your signature page and social security number.
- Power of Attorney
If you hold the Power of Attorney (POA) for an applicant with the Strengthen Alabama Homes program, we must have a copy of the POA on file in our office before any staff member will discuss any detail dealing with the grant for the applicant.
Together, through wind mitigation, we can STRENGTHEN ALABAMA HOMES.
In 2011, the Alabama State Legislature established the Strengthen Alabama Homes Act. The act was designed to help Alabama homeowners improve their homes with updated building modifications that reduce property damages caused by hurricanes or other catastrophic windstorm events. When funds are available, the Alabama Department of Insurance offers financial assistance to qualified homeowners to assist in the cost of retrofitting their homes.
Strengthening a home against wind damage may also qualify the owner to receive significant homeowner insurance premium discounts. There are established retrofitting standards that must be met to qualify for these discounts. Please explore our website and links to learn more about how to strengthen your home and qualify for these savings.
Please feel free to contact us if you have additional questions regarding this program.
STEPS OF THE STRENGTHEN ALABAMA HOMES GRANT PROGRAM
All steps are necessary to provide you with a Strengthen Alabama Homes grant. Please review the steps before applying for a grant.
Create your online profile
Complete questions and submit paperwork
Income information and Insurance Policy Declaration Page(s)
- Submit your last years' filed Federal 1040 form. DO NOT submit your ALABAMA Form 40. If you receive social security, please submit your last years' benefit statement.
- Homeowners, Wind (If a separate policy) and Flood (if in Special Flood Hazard Zone)
- Income information and Insurance Policy Declaration Page(s)
- Complete questions and submit paperwork
Select a FORTIFIED Evaluator™
- The homeowner is responsible for the full cost of the Evaluation.
Get several bids before choosing an Evaluator.
- Contact information for Evaluators is located on our website. Please research them before you apply for the grant. You will be prompted to choose one during the application process.
Complete the FORTIFIED Evaluation
- You will receive a pass or fail. Homes that fail the Evaluation are ineligible for the grant program.
If your home passes, you will be prompted to choose three contractors to bid on the work needed on your home.
- Contact information for Contractors is located on our website. Please research them before you apply for the grant. You will be prompted to choose 3 during the application process.
- There is a fee for the evaluation.
Choose three contractors to bid the mitigation work on your home
- At this time, get three to five homeowners insurance quotes for your home and include the desired level of FORTIFIED™ in the quotes. Use the "Alabama Coastal Insurance Shopper's Guide" to help ask the right questions and get the best coverage for your budget.
- Once all three bids are submitted from the contractors you chose, you will receive your grant award amount and bids and will be notified of any out of pocket construction expenses.
Select your final bid and level of mitigation you wish to obtain.
- NOTE - The contract for any mitigation work will be between you and the contractor, not the grant program.
- You are required to complete a project questionnaire at the end of this process.
Once the work is complete and your home receives its FORTIFIED Designation certificate, the grant program will pay the grant award directly to the contractor on the homeowner’s behalf.
- The contract for all work is between the homeowner and the contractor. Any balance due to the contractor, beyond the grant amount, is payable by the homeowner out-of-pocket under the terms of the contract between the homeowner and the contractor.
- The grant program will follow-up with your insurer to confirm you are receiving the premium discounts mandated under state law.