New Civic Group To Ask Lawmakers For Lower Insurance Premiums

By coming together as one voice, a newly formed civic organization is hoping to convince Mississippi lawmakers do more to shield homeowners from rising insurance premiums.

The Gulf Coast Business Council is made up of business owners, professionals and concerned citizens from Harrison, Hancock and Jackson counties.

On Monday members are on the agenda to go before the House insurance committee.

Group leaders say they plan to tell the committee South Mississippi has suffered enough without the added worry of higher insurance rates.

Earlier this month Governor Haley Barbour and Insurance Commissioner George Dale announced a $50 million contribution towards the state wind pool.

That money will go towards softening the impact of a proposed increase of nearly 400 percent.

The Gulf Coast Business Council fears that move may not be enough.

While Dale has already said he will not grant the entire proposed increase.

Business Council members say even a 100 percent to 200 percent increase would devastate homeowners.

They say the state legislature needs to look at funding options that will help Mississippians recover from Katrina.

"A lot of people, probably 20,000 to 30,000 people, have not rebuilt yet," said member Ron Peresich.

"They won't be able to rebuild because they wont be able to borrow money to provide insurance coverage to their lenders and if the insurance rates are permitted to go up a significant amount then they won't be able to borrow the money and therefore won't be able to rebuild. We can't let that happen," said Peresich.

The Gulf Coast Business Council will meet with the Insurance Committee on Monday afternoon at 1:30.