Chaney: Mitigation key to reducing insurance rates

Published 1:20 pm Friday, April 15, 2011

Mississippi Gulf Coast residents have been told mitigation is the answer to the region’s high insurance rates.

“What do you do to lower rates? It is pretty simple. If you want to lower rates on the Gulf Coast, you build a strong home, you stay out of the flood plains and have proper land use,” Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said Tuesday during a roundtable discussion sponsored by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.

Chaney said mitigation will reduce wind insurance premiums from 11 to 13 percent, according to The Mississippi Press. Chaney’s comments came a day after he announced he had agreed to a 19.4 percent statewide increase for Allstate homeowners’ insurance.

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Other participants in the roundtable included Dave Treutel, a board member of the Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association, and state Rep. Scott Delano, R-Biloxi.

Chaney said the state’s wind pool insurance rates have been steady since 2006.

Treutel, who also is president and chief executive officer of Treutel Insurance Agency, agreed mitigation was important, but also said the region has to spread the word that it has rebuilt stronger and safer following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Treutel said public buildings have been built stronger and building codes are have been upgraded. Retrofitted mitigation can lower premiums and strong building codes can cut rates as much as 20 percent, he said.

Before building, he said people should speak with a code official, their contractor, engineer or architect and an insurance agent.

Delano said there is no magic bullet to bring insurance rates down. He said houses should be inspected and assigned a score much like a credit rating.

“We want that report to say these are mitigation measures to increase your score,” Delano said.

Highly rated properties in the wind pool could be shopped in the private insurance market, Delano said.

Another factor is to move beyond arbitrary measures of risk such as all establishing rates for all property south of Interstate 10, he said.

“Those kinds of arbitrary lines are not accurate assessments of risk,” Treutel said.