Bryant, Dennis, pledge on insurance rights

After last week gaining pledges of support in writing from Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney and lieutenant governor candidates Billy Hewes and Tate Reeves, Coast citizen Kevin Buckel today secured pledges from gubernatorial candidates Phil Bryant and Dave Dennis to support "burden of proof" legislation.

Buckel has lobbied lawmakers -- usually unsuccessfully -- for more protections and rights for insurance policyholders since Hurricane Katrina's devastation and subsequent legal battles between homeowners and insurance companies.

Buckels proposed legislation over the years has been whittled down from a howmeowners "bill of rights" to one item: adopting into legislation rulings by the state Supreme Court and federal court that insurance companies have the burden of proof when they deny a homeowners claim.

In a statement, Bryant said: "If an all perils burden of proof bill similar to HB 203 (which died last year) comes to my desk from the Legislature, I will sign it (if elected governor)."

Dennis said: "I support codifying rulings in existing case law holding that an insurer has the burden of proof...As governor, I would sign legislation like the Committee Substitute for House Bill 203 from the 2011 Legislative Session...."

-- Geoff Pender/political editor