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5% Is the Difference between
Damage & Disaster

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When you think of high winds and severe building damage, what image comes to mind? Tornadoes? Hurricanes? Blizzards? A brief thunderstorm?

Many building owners may not consider an isolated thunderstorm to be the cause of high-risk damage. But recent tests conducted by the Institute of Business and Home Safety (IBHS) prove otherwise. Here are the wind speeds at which components of standard masonry buildings failed:

  • Flashing: 73 mph wind gust, which is the equivalent of a 52 mph one-minute sustained wind speed (not uncommon for severe thunderstorms).
  • Roll-up door: 110 mph wind gust (which can occur during a straight-line wind storm known as a derecho).
  • Walls. Two test buildings were subjected to an initial hurricane-force wind gust at 136 mph, which is the equivalent of a 97 mph one-minute sustained wind speed. Both buildings survived intact. But when, subsequently, a simulated tree branch was used to shatter one window in each, the walls of both buildings separated from the structures during a 110 mph wind gust, which is the equivalent of 79 mph one-minute sustained wind speed.

Note the importance of window and door protection. Once a roll-up door or window gives way, compromising the structure, wind in even the briefest storm can pressurize the inside of a building — and significant damage to the interior and inventory begins.

Moral of the IBHS story? The way you put a building together makes all of the difference in how it performs in high winds. The study also revealed that less than 5% of the total cost of the masonry building used in the test would have resulted in a building that was significantly stronger and safer. And an experienced claims adjuster estimated the repair cost on the stronger building to be 10% of those required by the standard masonry construction.

How would your building have fared? What types of materials or modifications can make a massive difference in the odds between minor inconvenience and total disaster? For more information on how a 5% increase in building cost could lead to a 90% reduction in damages, click here.

©2013 Selective Ins. Group, Inc. (Branchville, NJ). "Selective" insurers include Selective Ins. Co. of America, Selective Ins. Co. of New England, Selective Ins. Co. of N.Y., Selective Ins. Co. of South Carolina, Selective Ins. Co. of the Southeast, Selective Way Ins. Co., Selective Cas. Ins. Co, Selective Fire and Cas. Ins. Co and Selective Auto Ins. Co. of N.J. Insurers and products available vary by jurisdiction.