Property insurance rates in Mississippi even out but insurers still wary

Mike Chaney, Mississippi Insurance CommissionerThe Mississippi Insurance Commissioner, Mike Chaney, is reporting that property insurance rates in the state are leveling off. Chaney spoke Tuesday at a luncheon hosted by the Gulf Coast Business Club. Predictions of an unusually active hurricane season earlier this year from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spurred a sharp rise in insurance rates in Mississippi and neighboring states.

The momentum seems to have died out, however, a trend that Chaney believes is due to models that suggest many storms will be diverted to Texas or up the East Coast because of strong sea currents.

The coast is still vulnerable to wind and water damage, Chaney admits. After Hurricane Katrina, most of the private insurance companies operating in the state abandoned the coast and flood plains of Mississippi. Most homes in these areas are now covered by a state-funded insurance program. Chaney notes that while many new insurers have entered the market, few of them have the financial fortitude to start offering coverage along the coastal regions.

Mississippi has a new program in place that will help homeowners make changes to their properties and strengthen them against wind and water damages. Chaney has often spoken out about his beliefs that homeowners should be more cautious in their choice of residence. Properties in high risk areas often come with higher insurance rates and the only way to combat this, according to Chaney, is to either build stronger houses or move to a safer area.

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