I had to laugh when I saw our feckless Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney tap dancing his way around Harlan Kirgan at the Mississippi Press defending the latest rate up his office has given State Farm. The story also gives me a chance to weave in some other news and perhaps show case the intellectually bankrupt ideas regarding free markets espoused by our big insurance lovin’ Commish. Let’s begin with the piece that appeared Wednesday in the Mississippi Press:
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said he was not happy about granting a 19.5 percent homeowners rate increase to State Farm, but he had little choice.
“Would you want me to have 26,000 policies canceled on the Gulf Coast with nobody to write coverage for those 26,000 people?” Chaney asked.
He announced on Nov. 30 that he had approved the rate increase for State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. on homeowners insurance in Jackson, Harrison and Hancock counties.
In a statement, Chaney said the rate increase balanced the need for “affordable rates and sustainable premiums in face of rising costs to companies.”
Rising costs to the companies? Only in Mr Chaney’s world as Jim Brown explained yesterday in his column:
Hurricane season just ended with no storm activity. Cost of insurance is dropping all over the gulf south. Florida’s average property insurance rate dropped, according to Governor Charlie Crist, by 16%.
We’ve had 4 straight Hurricane seasons with little activity outside of Ike and Gustav in 2008 yet Mr Chaney claims their costs are climbing. He is right that costs are climbing in Mississippi mainly because he keeps granting his buddies in Bloomington and Northbrook large rate ups. But it gets more clownish from here as our Commish is an unabashed advocate of free markets. Classic economics says that when a market void is present it will be filled by new entrants to the marketplace. That is exactly what happened in Florida when State Farm threatened to leave as new entrants to the insurance market there snapped up escapees from the Farm as quick as they could cancel. Evidently Mr Chaney does not believe Mississippi has a viable insurance market as we continue with the Mississippi Press story: Continue reading “Commissioner Chaney brays to the Mississippi Press defending his State Farm rate hike”