No 397.8 Percent Wind-Pool Increase in Miss.; But No Final Decision

June 2, 2006

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale says there is no way he will approve a 397.8 percent increase in wind pool insurance for coastal residents.

“We will do everything we can to find avenues to offset that because the coast has been punished enough,” Dale told a Rotary Club in Pascagoula. “This would just be another kick in the teeth after Hurricane Katrina.”

Dale, however, did not say how much of an increase, if any, he might approve.

Dale hired an actuarial firm in Atlanta to analyze the rate request and has scheduled a June 5 a public hearing in Jackson. He can deny, approve or reduce the request, but must make a decision within 30 days.

The Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association was created by the Legislature after Hurricane Camille. The association covers more than 15,000 residential and commercial customers in the six southern counties.

Besides increasing residential rates by almost 400 percent, the wind pool wants to bump up commercial rates 268 percent and 60.4 percent for mobile homes. The requested increases are not for paying claims from past storms, but for additional reinsurance for the upcoming hurricane season.

Dale said in his civic club speech that the last census showed almost 50 percent of Americans have moved within 50 miles of the water.

“We are water-loving people and have moved into areas affected by storms.” Dale said risk areas such as the coast, mountains and earthquake-prone communities must get attention.

“In the end, the federal government is going to have to be the backdrop for flood and earthquake insurance,” he said.

Harrison County supervisors have opposed the requested increase.

Dale said the supervisors’ resolution is just one of many he has received since MWUA announced its request. The commissioner said he has also received numerous letters in opposition to the rate hikes in South Mississippi and statewide and he is examining every possibility.

Dale has asked Lt. Amy Tuck and House Speaker Billy McCoy to name a joint committee to find ways to offset the request by the MWUA.

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