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

Monday, November 05, 2007

Katrina's Election Day Revenge: Anderson, Hood, Sumrall

by Ana Maria

Just over two years ago, the lives of millions of people living inside the Katrina-ravaged region changed overnight. Homes, places of worship, schools, communities destroyed. Lives devastated as never before. Within weeks, Big Insurance came around delivering its disgusting decision not to pay for the wind related damage on the property. Not on U.S. Senator Lott’s home in Pascagoula located on the eastern end of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Not on the U.S. Congressman Gene Taylor’s home located on the western end of the same Gulf Coast. Big Insurance dolled out the same irresponsible treatment to a federal judge living somewhere along the Gulf Coast as well as to anyone who was not an eyewitness to the storm, which entailed nearly everyone.

Deeply inside of Big Insurance’s pocket, Mississippi’s Insurance Commissioner George Dale sided with the industry voters here had thought he was to regulate on behalf of home and business owners. Dale shrugged off the criticism shaking his proverbial finger with warnings that Big Insurance would leave the state were it not for his wise decisions allowing them to have their way with us. Of course, Big Insurance has had its way with American families and businesses all over this nation of ours.

A few months ago, Bloomberg News published Home Insurers' Secret Tactics Cheat Fire Victims, Hike Profits, a riveting and insightful article that disclosed the industry’s dirty, unknown secrets.

''Fighting an insurance company is like staring down the wrong end of a cannon,'' Dr. Bennett said after fighting his insurance company. The New Hampshire physician lost his five-bedroom home in a 1993 fire filled with antiques and fine art. Replacement costs? $20 million. The insurance company offered $1.7 million. Not quite 20% of the policy’s worth.
Here in the Katrina-ravaged region, the insurance industry again used and continues to use its low ball, starve-the-policyholder tactic.

Thankfully, Katrina’s revenge began at the election box two months ago. Voters in Mississippi’s Democratic primary election booted out ol’ George because of his cozy relationship with Big Insurance. Voters replaced him with Gary Anderson, a man a great integrity. Anderson’s independence from Big Insurance has been a major foundation of his campaign. He went so far as to publicly declare that he would not take a dime from Big Insurance, and Anderson has kept his word.

The Republican candidate, Mike Chaney, also made that pledge, but has repeated betrayed his word. The latest figure has been more than $70,000 worth of betrayal. Rather than emulating Gary Anderson, who is a man of great integrity, Chaney has emulated George Dale, a man who did Big Insurance’s dirty work and betrayed the tens of thousands of South Mississippi families and businesses—voters who remembered in the Democratic primary. Mike “Mini Me” Chaney is the bait and switch candidate in this race for an insurance commissioner who will be true and faithful to all of Mississippi’s families and businesses.

Here on the Gulf Coast, we are all still suffering greatly from the housing shortage and the lack of basic necessities like grocery stores, bakeries, jails, and other things that are par for the course in communities all over Mississippi and the rest of the nation. Why? Insurance companies didn’t pay on the wind-related damages of the policies be it for a home or a business. Without the money to rebuild, folks are hard pressed to find the money to self-finance. Even if there is money to rebuild based on savings or other assets, affording the astronomical increase in insurance premiums is more than most of us can swallow. The same goes for developers, as well.

At his Town Hall Meeting on Insurance Reform that Congressman Gene Taylor held last August, Taylor told us that developers are telling him that to build an apartment complex requires $300 per unit for insurance alone. Let me give you an example of what that means. A childhood friend told me that before Katrina, her mother lived in an apartment and paid $500 a month. Her rent went up to $900 a month after Katrina. Who in their right mind has in their budget an 80% increase in housing? Imagine a similar percentage increase for a mortgage. Everyone’s insurance costs have increased and those costs are ultimately born by us, the consumers of housing, etc.

The difference between the two candidates in tomorrow’s election here in Mississippi is the difference as voters had in the primary. Gary Anderson is independent and deliberately siding with home and business owners. Mike “Mini Me” Chaney is in the pocket of Big Insurance so much so that when asked if he intended to live up to his pledge not to take money from Big Insurance, Mini Me snidely retorted “When pigs fly.”

No state in the nation deserves such an arrogant man in the office of insurance commissioner, a man who demonstrates such contempt for keeping his word, such disrespect for the very people to whom he had made his pledge not to take Big Insurance money, such contempt for those of us who must live under the rules and regulations—or lack thereof—that the Mississippi Insurance Commissioner promulgates.

Personally, I’m voting the Democratic ticket straight down the line. It’s easy, particularly with Gary Anderson as one of the statewide candidates. Anderson has stated he intends to open an office here on the Gulf Coast to help us resolve our many outstanding issues with Big Insurance. Throughout the campaign, Anderson has kept his word. He has proposed transforming the insurance commissioner office into one that is truly the public servant of the people of Mississippi, one that looks out for our interest from an industry that has demonstrated over and over again that its greedy-gutted CEOs can be trusted as far as we can throw them. Anderson is the man for the job. He has my vote and I hope he has yours as well.

Additionally, I’ll be voting for Jim Hood to remain as our Attorney General. He has done a wonderful job of looking out for us in many arenas, most especially against Big Insurance. I’ll also be voting for Mike Sumrall for State Auditor. He is the only candidate that has ever conducted a government audit, complete with full knowledge of GAGAS, Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards, also known as the Yellow Book in trade lingo. Sumrall has 23 years auditing experience with the office of state auditor. You see, as a former legislative auditor for the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury, I know the difference between a cross foot and a foot, a performance audit from a performing monkey, what looks like the potential for fraud and abuse, what constitutes an audit trail. So does Mike Sumrall. He is the only one in the race that has real, honest-to-GAWD auditing experience. Given the potential for fraud and abuse in the billions of federal dollars for Katrina recovery, I want someone looking at those expenditures who knows what they are doing. Mike does.

Same for the other offices. I want an Attorney General who knows the law and how to protect us from those like Big Insurance who may, just may engage in criminal behavior or break a contract just to pad its profits and to do so while costing us, the taxpayers, or us the policyholders, or both.

I want an insurance commissioner who knows that there is an inherent risk in the insurance business. Those of us who pay insurance risk our money in anticipation that we may need to cash in our policy should disaster strike. Our risk is that we’re handing over our money, and we never have reason to file a claim. That is our risk. Big Insurance has a risk that it collects premiums and one day will have to make good on a claim. That is its risk.

After Katrina, Big Insurance decided to engage in the big rip off and ran a scam to deprive policyholders of the ability to collect on the wind damages that wind policies covered. In Mississippi, George Dale enabled Big Insurance’s Big Rip Off. We threw Dale out of office for this behavior. Mike “Mini Me” Chaney is the George Dale candidate in tomorrow’s race for insurance commissioner. Like Dale, Mini Me has tried to scare voters with talk that the big rip off insurance companies will leave the state unless he is elected. Let ‘em leave, Mini Me. We can’t afford lying, cheating, conniving, betraying insurance companies. That goes double for any one who would be their willing enabler.

Voting for Gary Anderson is the prudent vote to cast in tomorrow’s election. I believe Gary Anderson is genuine. I know that he is qualified. I’m convinced that a beautiful new day will dawn in Mississippi with Gary Anderson as our Insurance Commissioner. Let’s get out and vote in droves for that beautiful day!

© 2007 Ana Maria Rosato. All rights reserved.
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1 comment:

R Webb said...

What a joke! Especially in light of Trent Lott's resignation (was going to battle the insurance companies to the end) and his brother in law, Dickie Scruggs who can't win a case without buying the judge and ole Jim Hood...what an idiot. I think you gang of "good guys" may wind up bursting your bubble.