State Reps Look to Alleviate High Insurance Costs

Sky rocketing insurance rates have crippled south Mississippi’s housing market since Hurricane Katrina, and have slowed down the Coast’s ability to fully recover and rebuild.

For years, local state lawmakers have amped up the battle to drive down the high cost of insurance, and some lawmakers think they just may have the answer. State Representative Richard Bennett (R), District 120, says, "If you go up and down Highway 90, you can see all the slabs and the reason the slabs are sitting there is the cost of insurance."

Nine years after Katrina made landfall, much of south Mississippi’s coastline properties remain tattered and unoccupied. South Mississippi’s state law makers and residents blame the area’s expensive insurance rates, which have gone up by about 300% since Katrina.

State legislators at Wednesday’s meeting believe a grassroots movement called the Clarity Act is part of the solution. Similar bills have already been passed in Louisiana and Alabama. Bennett also says, "It forced insurance companies to show you what it costs to insure a home on the Coast and throughout the State of Mississippi, and also the payouts in each area according to zip codes."

Bennett says records show insurance companies paid out more to north Mississippians after tornados than to Coast residents after hurricanes. Bennett also says, "Whenever an example up in north Mississippi, when the tornados went through, the cost up there was actually higher than Katrina, per house."

Representative Carolyn Crawford says she and Bennett will try to convince representatives from central and north Mississippi to vote in favor of the Clarity Act. Crawford says, "So we could do something to kinda’ level out the playing field between south Mississippi and north Mississippi on insurance and make it more affordable for some more people to come back and rebuild on the Coast."

The 2015 legislative session begins on January 8th. Flood and wind insurance is becoming a national problem along the east coast. State representatives say they will also be working with Congress to try and relieve insurance rates on a national level.

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