If a storm devastates North
Carolina’s Outer Banks and Barrier Islands between now and June 30, some property
owners will be able to fortify their houses for free, with help from a UNC School
of Law pro bono project.
The six-month, pilot mitigation project,
which began Jan. 1, will fully fund storm-resistant replacement roofs for eligible
people with homeowners’ policies through the nonprofit North Carolina Insurance
Underwriting Association (NCIUA).
The industry-leading storm-mitigation
construction initiative has caught the attention of those in the nation’s most
prominent home — the White House. Carolina Law professor Don Hornstein, faculty
adviser to the pro bono project and NCIUA board member, gave three White House
briefings about the plan late last year.
In December, Hornstein participated
in the last meeting in a two-year study of climate resilience and insurance by
the Obama administration. NCIUA General Manager Gina Schwitzgebel also
“When this dialogue began in 2014, neither the NCIUA
nor any entity affiliated with North Carolina was at the table. At the
final meeting, we were at the table — largely because of the mitigation efforts
of the NCIUA begun last fall with the assistance of the Carolina Law pro bono
project,” Hornstein says.
The NCIUA mitigation project was
mentioned in a December 2016 blog post by Ali Zaidi, associate director of Natural Resources, Energy and Science at
the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Hurricane Matthew’s havoc, with an estimated billions of
dollars in damage — much of it in North Carolina — last October, is just the
latest storm to underscore the need for climate-resilient construction.
Ethan Blumenthal 2L
The mitigation plan will “give the NCIUA on-the-ground
experience with practical aspects of storm-mitigation construction projects, to
inform even larger programs that the pro bono project may develop,” says Hornstein,
project lead attorney and chair of the association’s mitigation subcommittee.
NCIUA has partnered
with the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety to conduct trainings
on North Carolina’s coast, so contractors, roofers and inspectors can become
certified in storm-resilient construction.
NCIUA pro bono work has huge potential impacts.
“We are tasked with working out the
details of a potentially unprecedented, insurer-driven coastal-mitigation
program,” Hornstein says, “which could result in the largest wind-mitigation
program by an insurer in our asset class in the United States.”
Details will be presented at the NCIUA
May board meeting.
The pro bono
project was showcased in Hornstein’s keynote address at a World Bank conference
on climate change and development last December in Washington. And the plan will be featured Jan. 25 at an Environmental Defense Fund meeting
in Washington on coastal resilience.
involved in the NCIUA project have provided a range of support, including helping
prepare for the OMB briefings and World Bank talk, researching and writing
memoranda, and reviewing presentations to clients.
Hornstein to meetings with North Carolina Home Builders Association president
Mike Carpenter and the NCIUA mitigation subcommittee.
experiencesinvolve “precisely the sort
of skills transactional business attorneys use routinely,” Hornstein says.
In December, Ethan Blumenthal 2L attended
an OMB briefing and the World Bank conference at which Hornstein spoke, and had
a private White House tour.
“The NCIUA was able to share data from our
project for OMB to use. Most of the time this is not the case, so the people in
the room really seemed to perk up when that was mentioned,” Blumenthal said of
opportunities were most valuable to him.
“Another good takeaway was watching Professor Hornstein
present to two very different audiences back to back,” Blumenthal says. “It
provided a good lesson in knowing who you’re talking to and tailoring your
presentation to those ends.”
-January 10, 2017