Miss. Commissioner Promises Consumers an Insurance Bill of Rights

December 22, 2006

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale says he is working on a bill of rights for consumers, patterned after similar programs in Maryland and Florida.

Dale, in a civic club speech this week in Gulfport, said no legislative action is required. He said a public hearing will be needed before it would take effect.

“It bothers me that some people have been done wrong by their insurance carrier,” Dale said. “It bothers me greatly.”

It was unclear whether Dale’s proposal would be in line with a proposed consumers bill of rights being promoted by some Gulf Coast homeowners.

Dale said his top challenges are to get claims paid and preserve an insurance market for the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

Dale said part of the solution is to restructure the state wind pool, insurer of last resort for the six coast counties. As the voluntary market shrinks, the wind pool is growing.

He said any property and casualty insurer who writes business in Mississippi also must agree to share in losses the wind pool suffers.

After Hurricane Katrina, the tab for insurers was $545 million. The state temporarily has propped up the pool with a cash infusion to buy more reinsurance that will help cover future losses, but permanent solutions are needed.

“We cannot rebuild the coast without an affordable insurance market,” Dale said, “and right now, we don’t have one.”


Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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