Some coast homeowners soon to see windpool rates drop

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Some Coast homeowners who rely on the state wind pool for insurance coverage may soon see a dramatic drop in their premiums. That's because of the changes the Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association is making starting July 1st.

Nearly four years after Hurricane Katrina, there are still vacant lots in East Biloxi and Point Cadet where houses once stood.

Biloxi Community Development Director Jerry Creel said, "Insurance has been one of the three factors that has kept people from rebuilding or relocating in the high risk areas."

Next month, the Mississippi Windpool Underwriting Association will provide some relief by expanding the discounts available to coast homeowners. Part of the criteria is that the home must be south of the Interstate and built in 1996 or later.

"You have to fill out an application with your insurance agents," said Creel. "You must produce a current certificate of occupancy which we can help the homeowner or structure owner with here in our department. And if you happen to be in the flood zone, you have to provide proof that you have flood insurance coverage."

Creel said homeowners can save even more money by reducing risks like removing tree limbs that hang over the house. He says the owners of older houses haven't been left out.

"If you have a structure that was built prior to 1996 you can go back in and do some retro-fitting by adding wind bracing and storm strapping to the attic to make it more hurricane resistant and if you do that you would qualify also," said Creel.

He believes the added savings will make a difference in Biloxi.

"What this will do is take a financial burden off of them," Creel said. "So they will be able to come back and rebuild or to get discounts on their existing insurance policies."

How much a homeowner saves depends on how the Mississippi Building Department Bureau rates the city the house is located. Creel said Biloxi's rating allows residents there to save 20 percent to 25 percent on their Windpool insurance. He recommends people contact their insurance agent for more information.

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