Erie Insurance Joins the Institute for Business & Home Safety as a Founder of New, World-Class Natural Disaster Research Center

Oct 19, 2010, 11:04 ET from Erie Insurance

ERIE, Pa., Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Erie Insurance is among the Founders of the Institute for Business & Home Safety's (IBHS) new state-of-the-art, multi-peril Research Center, which formally opened October 19, in Chester County, South Carolina.

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"We're thrilled to be one of the founding members of this exciting, cutting-edge research center," said Michael Zavasky, executive vice president, Insurance Operations, and IBHS Board Member.  "Research conducted in the new IBHS lab will help accelerate the demand for safer homes and businesses and over time will help reduce the loss of life, property damage, and financial impact of natural disasters.  We look forward to the day when we're able to use data learned in the IBHS lab to help our Policyholders spend less time and money recovering from disaster."

The IBHS Research Center, located about 50 minutes south of the Charlotte airport in Chester County, South Carolina, is the only facility of its kind in the world.  The IBHS lab can accommodate full-scale 1- and 2-story residential and commercial structures and is capable of recreating windstorms, hailstorms, hurricanes and wildfires in a controlled environment.  The defining feature of the lab is a massive array of 105 nearly 6 ft. electric fans that can create realistic, gusty winds up to 140 mph.  

"We are very proud to be standing alongside the leaders of the global property insurance industry in this initiative," said Julie Rochman, IBHS President & Chief Executive Officer.  "The vision and real leadership demonstrated by the Founders of the IBHS Research Center is incredible.  With this lab, they are stepping up and out to publicly demonstrate the extraordinary value they place on protecting families and their home, business owners and their operations, and entire communities from Mother Nature's fury."  

The mission of the Research Center is to identify, evaluate and promote effective methods of property loss reduction and prevention.  Testing conducted at the IBHS facility will help to establish clear, scientifically sound benchmarks for disaster-resistant design and construction of buildings, as well as helping to refine current product and system testing standards.  The scientific research will also enable significant improvements in residential and commercial structure design, construction and maintenance.  

About IBHS:  

IBHS is an independent, non-profit, scientific and educational organization supported by the property insurance industry.  The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks to residential and commercial property by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.

About Erie Insurance:

According to A.M. Best Company, Erie Insurance Group, based in Erie, Pennsylvania, is the 13th largest automobile insurer in the United States based on direct premiums written and the 19th largest property/casualty insurer in the United States based on total lines net premium written. The Group, rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best Company, has over 4.2 million policies in force and operates in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Erie Insurance Group ranks 484 on the FORTUNE 500.

Erie Insurance earned J.D. Power and Associates' award for "Highest in Customer Satisfaction with the Auto Insurance Shopping Experience."  This recognition is based on the results of the 2010 Insurance Shopping Study, which evaluates the experience of customers purchasing a new auto insurance policy.  Erie Insurance has also been recognized on the list of Ward's 50 Group of top performing insurance companies.  The Ward's 50 award analyzes the financial performance of 3,000 property and casualty companies and nearly 800 life and health insurance companies and recognizes the top performers for achieving outstanding financial results in safety and consistency over a five-year period (2005-2009).

SOURCE Erie Insurance