South Mississippians React To Insurance Announcement

The fight over insurance has been long and hard for tens of thousands of South Mississippians. Many people have put their lives on hold these past 17 months, waiting for any sign of an outcome to their insurance disputes.

"They treated me very ugly for a long time," said Bay St. Louis resident Dr. Wesley McFarland.

He echoed the sentiments of many insurance policy holders throughout South Mississippi. Since Katrina, residents have expressed their frustration with their insurance companies, many paralyzed and unable to move on with their lives because of claims they feel were unjustifiably denied.

Dr. McFarland says he believes Tuesday's announcement will ultimately help the coast build back, but he would have liked to have seen a criminal probe into the way insurance companies handled Katrina claims.

"I really would prefer that State Farm be embarrassed and the truth be brought out and a few of them sent to jail," Dr. McFarland said.

Long Beach residents John and Claire Tuepker were also on hand for the announcement. Katrina destoryed their Long Beach home on Boggs Drive. The couple welcomed news of a settlement and said it is long overdue.

"We had a policy with State Farm, and we were told that we were fully covered, and we received a letter about six weeks after the storm that we wouldn't receive a cent because of water exclusions we didn't know about, so we contacted our attorney, Dickie Scruggs, and from one thing to another, we've been keeping our fingers crossed, and keeping up with the news since then, and we're very, very happy with the results today. We think this is a fair settlement, and we think it will help us a lot, and many, many other people," John Tuepker said.

State Farm spokesman Phil Supple says this settlement will greatly reduce time, and expense of litigating individual claims State Farm is Mississippi's largest home insurer. Company officials say they have already paid an estimated $1.1 billion for 84,000 Katrina related claims.