News Room

26th anniversary of Hurricane Hugo

Columbia, S.C. – September, 22 2015 – The 26th anniversary of Hurricane Hugo offers South Carolinians an opportunity to reflect on an event that devastated the state, and reminds us about the importance of being prepared.

Hugo was the first natural disaster in the U.S. to cause more than $1 billion in insured property losses. South Carolina’s losses alone exceeded $4 billion, and with inflation and increased development, it is estimated that a similar storm would cause more than $15 billion in damages today.

Part of South Carolina’s response included a new focus on improving the way the state prepares for natural disasters – a focus that still exists today. In 1998, South Carolina adopted a statewide building code. More recently, the state adopted the 2012 edition of the International Code Council model codes, which have more stringent wind provisions than the state’s previous code. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) issued a report rating the building code systems in the 18 most hurricane-prone states along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, including South Carolina. South Carolina placed in the top five of the 18 states evaluated.

Other efforts demonstrate South Carolina’s commitment to building more disaster-resistant structures as well. For example, SC Safe Home, a property mitigation program, provides single-family homeowners with grants to retrofit their homes to make them more resilient. To date, more than 3,000 homes in coastal communities are stronger as a result of this program. The Insurance Institute for Business & Homes Safety (IBHS) built a Research facility in Chester County where scientists recreate natural disasters to examine how and why buildings are vulnerable. IBHS engineers use this unique research tool to identify and promote effective actions that strengthen homes, businesses, and communities against disasters. The research findings from the IBHS facility inform their voluntary construction standards for building new homes and retrofitting existing homes, called the FORTIFIED HomeTM program. IBHS’ efforts have helped improve building codes in South Carolina and many other states.

Given our exposure to potentially devastating natural disasters, South Carolina’s collective efforts and attention to preparation will one day prove to be incredibly valuable. It is not a question of if there will be another one, but when.

To learn more about preparing for disasters, visit the South Carolina Department of Insurance at or IBHS at

For more information from the S.C. Insurance News Service, or to schedule an interview, call (803)252-3455.

For over 35 years, the South Carolina Insurance News Service has been providing free insurance information to consumers and the media about property and casualty insurance issues.

For more information, contact the South Carolina Insurance News Service at 803-252-3455 or use our contact form.