S.C. Expands Wind Insurance Program Along Coast to More Insureds

March 26, 2007

A state-run insurance program has been expanded slightly to provide relief for some coastal homeowners grappling with skyrocketing premiums, and Gov. Mark Sanford and other lawmakers promised a tax-incentive plan to help, too.

The state-run program, known as the wind pool, was expanded some on March 21 in the coastal counties of Horry, Georgetown and Charleston.

The move comes as insurers dump policies and raise premiums along the coast, leaving thousands of property owners uninsured or struggling to pay for protection in hurricane-prone areas.

Sanford and other lawmakers want to offer tax incentives to residents who make their homes more hurricane resistant. The legislation also would allow homeowners to create hurricane savings accounts exempt from state taxes, Sanford said during a news conference.

Insurance Department Director Scott Richardson signed an order to slightly expand the state-run program beyond the sliver of land along the coast. The program helps provide coverage in areas where private insurers don’t offer protection.

Richardson did not know how many homeowners will be affected.

In Charleston County, parts of several islands were added to the pool, but Myrtle Beach gets the most help, Richardson said. The wind pool line there will move at most a couple of miles inland.

“That’s where the market’s so messed up, there’s no rhyme or reason,” said Richardson, who resigned from his Senate seat last month to lead the agency.

Rep. Harry Cato, chairman of the House Labor Commerce and Industry Committee, plans to introduce the legislation later this month.

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