HomeHome InsuranceInsurance Commissioner Jim Donelon visits Slidell's first home to receive a fortified...

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon visits Slidell’s first home to receive a fortified roof under new grant program

SLIDELL, La. (WVUE) – Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon stopped by one of the first homes to get a fortified roof in Louisiana through a new state program.

The Slidell home is owned by Alicia Craige, who says she applied for one of the state grants when the application process began, and it paid off.

Under the Louisiana Fortify Homes Program, Craige was awarded a $10,000 grant to harden her roof.

“I actually had nine contractors come out to my home. I wanted a lot of estimates and once I did that within about two weeks my roof was up,” said Craige.

She was among the first to be awarded one of the grants and one of the first to install a new fortified roof.

Before getting any work done, grant recipients are required to hire an evaluator.

Craige hired Derek Najdowski of Fortified Inspectors, LLC.

“We get into the attic, check the roof structure and everything else, and once a house qualifies, then she can move on to the next step and select a roofer,” said Najdowski.

After getting the green light from  Najdowski, Craige picked from the list on the Insurance Department’s website, which names contractors who are certified to do fortified roofing work.

Jason Cox of Taylor Made Services Roofing did the work on Craige’s home. He explained what installing a fortified roof entails.

“It’s a sealed roof deck system plan and simple, hurricane-proof, 130-mile-an-hour wind rate shingle,” he said.

Donelon said 3,000 grant applications have been approved and are moving through the process of verifying whether the homes have the required property insurance, including wind and hail coverage and a homestead exemption.

FOX 8 was at the location and asked Donelon if the pace of the program was meeting his expectations.

“It truly does because this is a complex program that is just now being rolled out in Louisiana. It’s been in place in Louisiana for four years and we’ve copied virtually verbatim their legislation,” said Donelon.

Donelon, who leaves office in January after serving as insurance commissioner for nearly 20 years, calls the grant program for hardier roofs one of the highlights of his time as the state’s insurance industry regulator.

“It truly is because I like regulators in Minnesota because of ice storms and North Carolina before us have copied Alabama,” said Donelon.

Craige says the process of being awarded a grant was smooth, and she would recommend the program to others.

However, no more grants are to be issued this year.  Still, Donelon hopes his successor, Tim Temple, and the legislature will continue the program.

Under a new state law, insurers must give discounts to people who have certified fortified roofs.

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