S.C. Insurance Director Proud of Hurricane Legislation

June 8, 2007

On Wednesday the South Carolina House of Representatives agreed to Senate changes to coastal omnibus hurricane legislation, which included extending the notice for homeowners whose insurance would be canceled to 90 days during hurricane season.

The measure also increases the notice to 60 days from 30 the rest of the year.

Gov. Mark Sanford has praised the bill, pushed by Scott Richardson, his newly appointed insurance director, as a way to lower skyrocketing insurance premiums in a business-friendly way.

“This is the first legislation in a long time that is very pro-consumer and it should set the South Carolina market in a good position for 10 or 15 years to come,” Richardson said. “It’s also important on a national basis as South Carolina is the first to codify market philosophy – not to mention the response we’re getting from other states asking us how we did it. I think we went the right way.”

The proposal would offer sales and income tax breaks to residents who make their homes more hurricane resistant with improvements such as storm shutters. The breaks would not apply to vacation homes.

Other provisions include allowing homeowners to put money into tax-deductible hurricane savings accounts. Residents could use the accounts to offset large deductibles or forgo insurance altogether and self-insure. Insurers would get tax credits for writing full-coverage policies along the coast.

The Senate changes would also put into law Insurance Director Richardson’s expansions to the wind pool, a state-run insurance program that helps provide coverage in areas where private insurers don’t offer protection.

The Associated press contributed to this report

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