Insurance News Today

There are two news stories in today’s Sun Herald that are well worth pointing out. The first deals with the House Insurance Committee’s passage of a Policyholder’s Bill of Rights, prompted by the treatment of consumers here on the coast after Hurricane Katrina.

Long Beach resident Kevin Buckel lost his house on Russell Avenue to Katrina, but was originally paid only $1,000 by Nationwide, but the company later settled a lawsuit with him. Buckel told the committee that putting the burden of proof on the insurance company is the most important part of the Policyholder’s Bill of Rights.

“When you are denied a claim, the insurance companies would be more likely to settle with homeowners if they can’t prove their case in court,” Buckel said.

I have not read the bill but I take Mr Chaney’s reservations concerning it to mean it must favor consumers over insurers.

The second story should come as no surprise that private insurers will continue to increase the pressure by economic strangulation of the coast enabled by former insurance agent turned inusrance commissioner Mike Chaney. I find the contrasts between Mr Chaney and Mr McCarty in Florida most telling as I do the timid reactions of Mississippi politicians in general to this issue in huge contrast to those in Florida.

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said some major insurance carriers have indicated they may no longer renew wind coverage for customers in South Mississippi.”If they quit writing wind for existing customers, that’s really going to put more pressure on the economy,” said Chaney, who added that he is working to keep private carriers in the six southernmost counties and bring in new business.

He hopes enforcement of enhanced building codes, coupled with other measures his office is pursuing, will improve the market.

Is it me or were the new buillding codes passed after the storm in late 2005 or early 2006? Perhaps it’s time Mr Chaney quit hoping and instead champion the people who elected him to office. Frankly I would personally never sign up with a private insurer for wind coverage, as it is a waste of money buying a policy that does not pay on wind damaged coastal properties. Like my home before the storm my rebuild will be in the wind pool which did pay on their policies as a rule.

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