Taylor defends his multi-peril plan to insurance agents

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - If south Mississippians build higher, drier and safer, insurance costs may come down.  That's one of the messages coming out of a two day insurance forum at the IP.  The other message came Friday from Mississippi Congressman Gene Taylor.

Congressman Taylor looked at insurance experts right in the eye on Friday and said his Multiple Peril Insurance plan wouldn't put them out of business.  He called the proposal to solve coastal America's homeowners insurance crisis nothing more than an alternative to the insurance options that currently exist.

"If they build their house right, if they pay their premiums, they're going to get paid.  That's the message," Rep. Taylor said.

Taylor used pictures taken in Bay St. Louis right after Katrina to emphasize his point.  Those pictures showed before and after scenes of hurricane damaged homes.  And each slide said the homeowner had to go to court, because they got paid nothing by their insurance carrier.

"The system that was with homeowners' policies did not work in Mississippi, that people by the thousands got screwed by their insurance companies," Taylor exclaimed.

So, the congressman came up with a plan to attach a wind coverage option to the National Flood Insurance Program.  He believes his insurance proposal would spread the insurance risk around the country.  He calls it better for homeowners, better for taxpayers and better for states.  But so far, Congress hasn't signed off on the idea.

"Nothing worthwhile ever happens easily.  And so it is a fight.  It's going to continue to be a fight.  But we've got to make it happen," said Taylor.

A week ago, Mississippi's fourth district congressman made a similar pitch to Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano.  He explained how rebuilding properties like this would be a lot easier if Congress adopted his Multiple Peril Insurance Act.  That meeting was scheduled after Napolitano sent Taylor a letter that said the Obama administration would not endorse the concept.

"She was very non-committal.  But she did say she would take a second look at it," Taylor said as he described the meeting.  "That's about all we could ask for from right then."

Secretary Napolitano will see Biloxi's hurricane damage on Sunday when she attends the National Governors Association conference.  Taylor hopes the lack of progress on so many lots convinces her to support his multi peril plan.

"It's gotta happen," he said.

Click here to learn more about the Multiple Peril Insurance Act, read a summary of the bill, and see who's co-sponsoring the legislation.

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