COLUMBIA - Coastal South Carolina residents wishing to fortify their homes from the peril of winds may soon get access to more state grant money.
A bill that will be discussed by a Senate committee Tuesday seeks to increase funding by about $1.5 million to a program that awards the grants. It stems from increased interest by state residents seeking to make their homes safer and hoping to reap the benefits of doing so through insurance credits.
The bill already had made its way through different committees, but because the General Assembly would have to fill the coffers of the program with more cash, it was sent back to the committee level for approval. Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, expects it to be approved Tuesday.
"It's a one-time grant for the homeowner for a primary residence," said Ray Farmer, director of the S.C. Department of Insurance. "We've got so many people that are interested in it now that additional funding would certainly be helpful."
Davis, the sponsor of the bill, added the measure also will do several other things if it is approved, including making South Carolina more attractive for private insurance companies to do business here, and requiring a feasibility study to determine how much it would cost for the state to create a model on which insurance agencies can base their premiums.
"We need to have a catastrophe model with variables in it that are unique to South Carolina so that we're not being compared to Florida," Davis said. "We need to have a model that is applicable to South Carolina."
The models provide a best guess of how a hurricane would come across South Carolina and its potential effects. Florida's exposure, for example, is a lot greater than other states. South Carolina's insurance model uses the basic principles of Florida's model with Palmetto State data, Farmer said.
He added the agency supports this bill because it's a win-win for residents.
"Studies have shown for every dollar that you spend in mitigation efforts, the return is about $4 in savings after you have the hurricane or the big event," Farmer said. "Not only does it help with property damage, but fortifying a home will increase the safety of the home."
Cynthia Roldan can be reached at 708-5891.