In the wake of the lawsuit in favor of coastal homeowners who were victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, State Farm Insurance has announced that it will not write any new policies for residents of Mississippi:
Bob Hunter of the Consumer Federation of America said he believed State Farm's action was a warning to other Gulf Coast states.
"I would say it's a warning shot," Hunter said. "The insurance company here, State Farm, is basically saying, 'If you make us pay what we owe, we're gonna ... take it out on your citizens.'"
And here's Mississippi's Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood on it, after the company tried to blame "judicial uncertainty" for its move:
"They [State Farm] created the problem," he said. "If they would have paid what they owed in the first place, there never would have been a lawsuit filed."
I could not agree more with either person.
Much more below the fold...
In a printed article that I read this morning, the company is also cited as "assessing how many of the current policies in Mississippi will be renewed this year."
That's a red alarm that homeowners on America's most vulnerable coastline will have their insurance revoked before the 2007 hurricane season kicks off -- a season that is forecast to be a repeat of seasons such as 2003 and 2004, after the current El Nino dissipates. If one company is allowed to get away with it, you can rest assured that others will follow in its wake.
Apparently, the company tried to pull this in Florida as well, but -- in a series of events that truly blows my mind -- was stymied by the new Republican governor of Florida, Charlie Crist. Credit where it's due, I guess, although from this article, it appears that he did it for the wrong reasons.
Insurance companies can't cancel your homeowner policy before December or raise your rates for the next 90 days.
Throwing another hard jab at the property-insurance industry, Gov. Charlie Crist persuaded his fellow Florida Cabinet members to pass an emergency order to that effect Tuesday.
The 90-day rate freeze is intended to make sure companies preparing rate-adjustment requests take into account the steep savings they should get under an insurance law Crist signed last week.
The order, which prevents insurers from dropping customers until after the next hurricane season, was approved despite strident objections raised by insurance-industry lobbyists and concerns from state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson, who both said the rule could put some companies in too much of a financial bind.
Although Florida does tend to treat its hurricane victims better than the victims of Hurricane Katrina in MS and LA, this whining about profits really rings hollow when you consider that
[a] year and a half after Hurricane Katrina, 35,000 Mississippi households remain at odds with State Farm, and now the company says it won't issue any new homeowner policies in Mississippi.
Yeah, cry me a river.
I sat through this hurricane. My family's house in Mississippi took roof damage that still has not been repaired. I have since then moved out of the area, but I follow developments very closely. I have come around to the conclusion that disaster victims and potential disaster victims need a media-savvy group to lobby for them. Their entire livelihood depends on the whim of political power-brokers, and, while the insurance industry is rich and powerful, the small businesses and homeowners have NO voice after the storm passes through. Thoughts?