STATE FARM'S HEAD ON A PLATTER
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South Mississippi Living 4/07

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Our Opinion: Mr. Bush, don't kill the multi-peril bill

Sunday, September 30, 2007

With billions of dollars and millions of lives on the line, President George W. Bush announced that he will veto a bill to offer windpool insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.

The announcement last week from the White House left U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor dumbfounded. Taylor is the author of the multi-peril insurance legislation.

He maintains it is needed along the hurricane-prone U.S. coastlines since private insurance companies jacked their rates up in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

At first glance, it might seem reasonable that the insurance industry would raise rates. After all, the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane caused billions of dollars in damages. After the storm left its devastating mark on Louisiana and Mississippi, the insurance companies operating on the Coast came under fire for denying claims, underpaying claims and refusing to write policies. Their actions have also spawned a host of lawsuits that are still winding through the court system.

And those are exactly why the multi-peril legislation is needed. Though some may consider it foolhardy to continue living on the waterfront, the simple truth is that in the United States the bulk of the population lives within 50 miles of a coastline. As insurance companies pull away from this region in the light of record breaking claims payments from Katrina, someone has to step into the breach and fill the gap.

The bill is headed for the Senate. Sen. Trent Lott, a son of Pascagoula who lost his home to Katrina and was a member of a lawsuit against insurance companies filed by Pascagoula attorney Richard Scruggs, said he has some reservations about adding additional responsibility to the federal flood insurance program. But, he's also said he would consider adding wind damage to similar legislation in the Senate.

Bush, Lott and Thad Cochran, Mississippi's other senior statesman in the Senate, need to seriously weigh the consequences of this bill. Not just the added burden to the federal government, but also the added burden to millions of homeowners who are increasingly being priced out of the insurance market because of the probability of a hurricane.

Let these men know your stand on the multi-peril bill. Share your views with the president by writing to The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500. Or call and leave your comments at (202) 456-1111.

Sen. Lott can be reached locally at (228) 762-5400 and Sen. Cochran can be reached through his office in Gulf Port at (228) 867-9710.

Copyright 2007 gulflive.com. All Rights Reserved.
The Mississippi Press published this editorial.

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