What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Friday, October 05, 2007

Insurance candidate criticizes opponent

Friday, October 05, 2007


BILOXI -- Gary Anderson, the Democrat candidate for state insurance commissioner, said Thursday he's not going to be in the back pocket of big insurance companies and accused his opponent of taking money from the insurance industry for nearly 10 years.

Anderson defeated Insurance Commissioner George Dale in the Democrat primary. The August race ended Dale's 32-year tenure as the state's top insurance regulator and the longest serving state insurance commissioner in the nation.

The 51-year-old former state fiscal chief now faces Republican state Sen. Mike Chaney of Vicksburg in the Nov. 6 general election. Chaney won the GOP nomination for the four-year post by defeating Ronnie English of Vancleave.

Anderson, of Jackson, held a press conference at Mary Mahoney's restaurant in Biloxi Thursday, surrounded by about 10 supporters.

He didn't delay his criticism of Chaney.

"My independence from insurance industry is one of the main differences be-tween my opponent and me," Anderson said. "Right now, Mississippi pays the third highest insurance rates in the nation. It takes the right kind of experience and the independence to do the job."

Anderson repeatedly chastised Chaney for ac-cepting contributions from insurance companies and others associated with the industry. He also accused Chaney of being in "the back pocket" of the industry both candidates are vying to govern.

"Since 1999, Mr. Chaney has taken thousands of dollars from insurance interest. In 2007, while running for insurance commissioner, he said, it's wrong to take money from industries you regulate.' Despite this statement, Mr. Chaney has continued to take money from insurance agents and companies," Anderson said.

Anderson said Chaney "flip-flopped" on his promise to the American Association of Retired Persons.

"He told the AARP he would support the grocery-tax/cigarette-tax swap and then did not," Anderson said. "If he'll do that to the elderly, what will he do to the people of the entire state?"

In an interview with The Mississippi Press published Sept. 29, Chaney offered no criticism of Anderson.

During the press conference, Anderson said he would lower the insurance rates in the state.

"For too long the insurance companies have had a free rein to do as they please in our state," Anderson said. "We need to change that. My plan is simple. Work everyday as an advocate for the insurance rate payers for our state and remain independent of insurance special interest. I haven't taken a single dime from insurance companies because it's just plan wrong to take money from the insurance companies that you're responsible to regulate."

Anderson said he wants to reduce fraud and waste in the insurance system. He said he wants to remove confusing language from insurance policies so the holders can better understand them.

Asked how he would regulate nationwide insurance providers refusing to write homeowner policies in Mississippi, Anderson said, "let them go."

"I plan to make Mississippi more attractive to the insurance industry," Anderson said. "That way, if State Farm or someone wants to go, they can. There will be five other companies wanting to take their place."

He said he will use his 25 years of experience in the public and private sectors to encourage competition in the insurance marketplace.

Anderson offered no opinion on the multi-peril legislation the U.S. House of Representatives approved on Sept. 27 that would allow property owners to purchase wind and flood coverage in a single policy.

The legislation is sponsored by Congressman Gene Taylor, D-Miss., and will now be presented to the U.S. Senate. If approved, the issue will be considered by President George W. Bush, who has vowed to veto the bill.

Reporter Cherie Ward can be reached at cward or (228) 934-1442.

The Mississippi Press published the original article on October 5, 2007.

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