In response to a Letter to the Editor that appeared in the Sun Herald on July 31, “We need help to reduce insurance costs,” I would like to point out steps the Mississippi Insurance Department has taken in the last 10 years to address the very serious issue of flood insurance in the state.
I assure the readers of the Sun Herald that our Congressional delegation understand the issues we face concerning flood insurance. We all know that a free market is preferable to a government-only market.
The Mississippi Insurance Department does not regulate federal flood insurance, known as the National Flood Insurance Program. Flood insurance remains a very important issue that this office and our Congressional delegation are monitoring closely.
In 2013, when coastal homeowners were faced with draconian rate increases in flood insurance due to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, the Mississippi Insurance Department sued the federal government. Our case was heard in federal court with testimony from individuals facing premium increases of tens of thousands of dollars, forcing some to give up their homes. In 2014, we dropped the lawsuit following Congress taking action and passing the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014.
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We are continuing to closely monitor proposed changes to the National Flood Insurance Program, which is set to expire in September. We hope that Congress will immediately take action for long-term reauthorization, as well as creating a clear path to privatization of the flood insurance market. Coastal American Insurance Co. is presently writing flood coverage as an endorsement to its wind policy. Multiple companies write excess flood coverage in the state. I am very concerned about coverage for the over 30,000 primary and secondary homes on the Gulf Coast and what they will do for coverage. We need competition in this market and we need the federal government to allow competition that lowers rates.
The proposed coastal, multiple-peril plan referred to in the letter has been proposed before and has proven to be impractical and has little support.
As of Aug. 1, 2017, there were 64,477 flood insurance policies in force with a little over $15.5 billion dollars in coverage in Mississippi. Flood insurance will continue to be a high priority to the Mississippi Insurance Department. We are dedicated to reducing flood insurance costs on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and will continue working to find ways to make flood insurance affordable for all Mississippians.
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney can be reached at Mike.Chaney@mid.ms.gov or 601-359-3580.