Anita Lee covers Senator Wicker’s Insurance Roundtable. Slabbed adds a bit of analysis.

I count myself as a lucky guy this morning as a very busy day is still ahead for me and I really don’t have the time to write a comprehensive post on yesterday’s insurance roundtable sponsored by Senator Wicker and his staff. I’m lucky because Anita Lee was also there and she did a fantastic job reporting the events. Before I chime in with a bit of analysis and a personal touch let’s visit with Anita:

Frustrated by Senate inaction, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker stepped up his role in the coastal insurance debate Thursday, hosting an insurance forum that presented ideas for an overhaul of the National Flood Insurance Program that were new to the audience.

Approaches to insure against catastrophic risk varied, but two thoughts appeared universal: The current insurance system does not work for low-frequency, high-severity events such as Hurricane Katrina, and property owners can expect a stable and affordable insurance market only if they fortify their homes against hurricane damage.

Wicker said after the forum he hopes to build momentum for a Senate hearing on comprehensive coverage for catastrophic events. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., has not followed through on promises that the Banking Committee he chairs will hold a hearing on the issue.

Mentioning Chris Dodd here on Slabbed is like featuring Loyola Law Professor Dane Ciolino as it represents red meat for the slabbed nation. Luckily for everyone, the good people in Connecticut agree with our assessment as Dodd’s poor poll numbers spelled doom for any chance at re-election so he retires this year, no doubt to the revolving door.

I didn’t agree with much of what the U Penn people from the Wharton School had to say in that some of their statistics did not tell the entire story. I also think there are holes in some of the economic theory they cited in their presentation. That said the guys did bring some new ideas to the table and it is those ideas that Anita features in the next snippet I’m highlighting and rightfully so IMHO as it represents the exact type of innovative thinking it will take to solve our coastal insurance crisis:

The plan from professors Howard Kunreuther and Erwann Michel-Kerjan would require long-term rather than annual coverage. Loans would be offered for fortifying homes against flood damage. Homeowners would be more likely to elevate and flood-proof their property, the professors say, because premium savings would be higher than annual loan-repayment rates. The coverage and loans would be tied to the property, not the individual.

Anita also well covers our own Gene Taylor’s presentation, those by the Travelers Insurance company as well as quoting Senator Wicker a few more times. The Wharton School slides are available at the Sun Herald for those so interested and I have taken the liberty of uploading them to Scribd so that they are more widely distributed. The embed is at the end of this post.

Now a few personal impressions. First off I reckon I should admit to being casually acquainted with Morgan Shands who I believe has figured out which crazy sob runs this blog. I was a few minutes  late getting to the roundtable and Morgan was doing the handouts. He chuckled when he asked if I wanted the 4 Pillars handout which I did take. Morgan is also a Slabber from Bay St Louis who works for Senator Wicker and is the guy who did the Commish’s successful campaign back in 2007. While I’m on the topic of Senator Wicker I’ll add that Nowdy is our resident expert in all things North Mississippi and she has consistently told me that Roger and his wife Gayle are quality, down to earth people and my first impressions of the man in person bore that out. It is equally clear that Roger and Gene have a strong relationship dating back to Roger’s time in the House. He was also unequivocal that he supports Gene Taylor’s multi peril plan. And both men are certainly willing to listen to innovative ideas such as those advocated by the Wharton people. As such I think all the goals Senator Wicker set for the roundtable were met.

I also had a chance to chat with Eric Nelsen and Jennifer Wislocki who work with the Travelers. I remembered Jennifer from way back in 2008 when she was kind enough to email me some material on their 4 pillars plan. To be clear we’ve poked most all the major insurers through our 2 plus years doing this blog and not withstanding the fact the Travelers is a Branch defendant I think overall they wear a white hat in the industry…… well, maybe off-white. They are mainly known as a commercial insurer, I know them both as a former commercial policyholder and in connection with their surety business and they do a very good job in those segments.

I think Jennifer and Eric found out I wasn’t a confederate flag waving hillbilly with a shotgun looking for an insurance type to plug a few holes in. For my part I received further confirmation those that work for multi national insurers don’t have a tail and horns. All in all I’d say it was a good day. Now for them embeds I promised, first the Travelers PR and then the U Penn slides. ~ sop

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