How Mississippi handles its wind pool could very well determine the future of the state’s property insurance market, according to the state’s insurance commissioner.
“[O]ne of the major problems that I have faced is how to handle the Mississippi Insurance Underwriting Association, better known as the wind pool, which is the residual market of last resort. So a lot of the companies that are still trying to make a decision of what they are going to do are waiting to see what we are going to do with the wind pool and we are working on that,” says Commissioner George Dale.
The wind pool association is the insurer of last resort in the six southernmost counties. The losses of the wind pool are borne by all property insurers writing in the state and the assessments discourage insurers from keeping their markets open, the veteran elected regulator noted in a January video interview with Insurance Journal. The complete video interview can be seen at www.insurancejournal.com/broadcasts.
Gov. Haley Barbour, state lawmakers and Dale’s office have been working on remedies and funding proposals for months. Just this week, Mississippi lawmakers appeared to be close to forging a compromise between differing House and Senate versions of a bill designed to shore up the wind pool. The compromise would reportedly call for $20 million in annual premium relief for wind pool insureds funded by a tax on all insurance policies statewide.
Since Hurricane Katrina struck Aug. 29, 2005, the wind pool’s rates have jumped 268 percent for businesses and 90 percent for homeowners.
In his Insurance Journal interview, Dale also discusses agency compensation issues and questions whether agents should be forced to disclose their incomes if other sales professionals do not.
“I’ve never been against some form of disclosure in anything. We as public officials have an open book. Everybody knows how much money we make and the whole nine yards. I never have faulted that. What perturbs me a little bit is: I always wonder how much, when I buy a new car, is that salesman making on selling me that car? Could he not cut the price of that car a little bit more; and some other facets? So, why pick out insurance for this type of elaborate disclosure?”
In his interview Dale, who is running for re-election to what will be his eighth term, reflects on what keeps him in the race.
“This probably is the most difficult 13 or 14 months I’ve endured, but through it all I have never get tired of somebody telling me, ‘You know, your office helped me,’ and I think that’s what we’re supposed to be all about, is trying to help somebody.”
The entire video interview with Dale can be viewed at www.insurancejournal.com/broadcasts
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