The City of Biloxi is insurance shopping after the council on Tuesday declined to vote on the only offer available. That means the city has no coverage for its property and equipment and it has no business interruption insurance either.
The only insurance proposal on the table has a $1.8 million premium price tag. That's double from last year and would provide $60 million in fire coverage, $32 million in wind coverage, $6 million in flood coverage, $2.8 million in automobile coverage, and $1.7 million in equipment coverage.
The city's insurance broker told council members it's the best deal he could find in a shrinking insurance market.
"There are very, very few companies out there that'll write property insurance in the first tier of counties. That's the first two counties in a sea coast zone in the Gulf and Atlantic Basins of the U.S. It's very few, I'll pick a number. I'm going to say a dozen at the most," Wayne Tisdale said.
The choices are even slimmer for business interruption coverage. That's the $10 million policy Biloxi bought for $92,000 right before the hurricane hit. It guaranteed the city would collect casino tax money for up to six months. But that same guarantee isn't available this year.
"The only company I'm aware of that will do it will charge approximately $1 million for it. And it has to be a certain category - 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - and the coverage reduces by the lower category. And the eye has to strike within 50 miles of a given area," Tisdale said.
The casinos add about $20 million a year to Biloxi's budget. The mayor says losing it isn't a gamble he wants to take.
"Wayne has tried. He could find it, but it would be so expensive, I don't know if it would be worth it or not. It's going to be tough to get coverage from now on until things settle down. And maybe if we have no storms for a couple of years, the premiums, I think, will come down just like everything else," Mayor A.J. Holloway said.
Biloxi council members may have to go with the one choice before them, but with no vote taken on Tuesday, the city has no property coverage at all as of July first. Mayor Holloway is expected to call a special council meeting Thursday morning to take up the issue again.