Mississippi coast legislators are pushing a bill that would make property insurers report, by zip code, what they pay in claims and earn in premiums.
At a meeting at the capitol yesterday, coast businessman Dave Dennis said property insurance is an economic development issue on the coast. He says high rates have stymied businesses and real estate and also act as a deterrent for families who want to become home owners.
"It's keeping young couples from buying a new house, a starter home," he says. "It's keeping middle class folks in a position of having a hard time to really make decisions over whether they want a new car, whether they want to pay tuition. And for fixed-income people, it's really a strong burden because insurance is sometimes two, and three, and four times, what it would be in other locations.
Representative Scott Delano of Biloxi says the bill this year has some slight changes from the one that did not pass the legislature last year. He thinks this year's bill is stronger, but he says the law won’t immediately lower rates or solve all of the coast’s insurance woes.
"There is no magic bullet when we look at homeowners insurance costs," he says. "What we are hoping to do is to take incremental steps every single year, to understand the market, to make sure the market works as efficiently as possible, and that we do everything we can to make it function a little better."
Delano says insurance clarity bills have passed in Alabama and Louisiana.