Wind Pool Board Members Visit Hancock County

"In this subdivision, we probably lost about a thousand homes and to date we probably have 40 or 50 that have built back. Progress is coming very slow. You still see a lot of FEMA trailers," says Dave Treutel, Vice Chair of the Mississippi Wind Pool Board.

Most on the newly appointed 11 member Wind Pool Board were shocked to see the number of empty lots that still dot the landscape.

Lorrie Brouse, Mississippi Wind Pool Board Chairperson says, "This was the first time I had seen the Bay St. Louis and Waveland area. It was encouraging and sobering at the same time."

Lorrie Brouse Chairs the Windstorm Board, she says she knows the high cost of insurance is preventing residents from rebuilding.

Brouse says, "One of the things I'm hoping we're going to be able to do is design guidelines that will encourage people to build safer homes. That's one of the things for the future that's going to be real important."

Brouse says building stronger homes is one way to get insurance companies to begin start writing policies on the Coast again.

To date the wind pool has paid out more than 681-million dollars to about 18-thousand policy holders.

Dave Treutel is a Bay St. Louis insurance agent who now sits on the wind pool board.

Treutel says, "We on the board would like nothing better than to lose our jobs. We'd like nothing better than to not have a wind pool anymore because the private insurance industry has come back and is writing coverage. Unfortunately in the short run that's not happening."

Designed to be the insurer of last resort, the windpool is now the only choice for many to get coverage since Katrina.

Treutel says, "The final solution for handing catastrophic losses is going to have to come from the federal government but for right now not knowing when that might happen if it might happen."

In the short term the new windpool board's most pressing job is to hire a management firm to handle new claims.  But it's a job they hope isn't needed anytime soon.

"We're praying for the best and planning for the worst," says Treutel.

Robert Portwood, Mississippi Wind Pool Board Member, says, "Within a week or two we've got to make a decision who that is. 'Cause I'm telling you we've got to have a duplicate catastrophic plan. You got to plan for a small storm and how many of these independent adjusters your going to bring in for a small storm, and you've got to plan for another Katrina."

Treutel said The recently passed Wind Pool Bill offers some incentives that will help bring the insurance companies back to the Coast.

"We can now issue some carrots and sticks to encourage companies to write again and give them financial incentives to do that. That will probably take some time to do but at least we've got companies that are starting to question and look at ways that they may come back and write again, where as six months ago we were not even entertaining those kinds of discussions."

During the board meeting The Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association recognized Ron Peresich, the chairman of the Gulf Coast Business Council, for his efforts getting the Wind Pool overhaul passed to help south Mississippi homeowners.