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Senate sends governor bill to give $25 M to wind pool

The Mississippi Senate on Friday sent the governor a bill to transfer $25 million into a fund that assists the state wind pool.

The wind pool is the insurer of last resort for those who need wind coverage in high-risk areas where no private insurer will write policies.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney has said rates increased 90 percent for homeowners and 162 percent for businesses after Katrina’s storm surge devastated the region.

Some insurance companies stopped writing new policies. That led to a spike in the number insured by the wind pool, which is funded by assessing all insurance companies that provide property coverage in the state.

The wind pool has about 36,000 policies, most of them are homeowners in six south Mississippi counties of Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River, Stone and George. When the storm hit, the wind pool only had 16,000 policies.

“One of the most important issues is the availability of affordable insurance,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, said Friday. “This bill will go a long way toward that.”

Nunnelee said the money would help reduce rates for property owners. Officials say if the money is not provided, rates could increase by 30 percent.

Gov. Haley Barbour’s spokesman, Pete Smith, said Barbour will sign the bill. Smith said the $25 million is part of an $80 million package lawmakers approved for the wind pool last year. Smith said the new bill simply gives authority for the $25 million to be transferred for use.

The bill is House Bill 1640.