Insurance Commissioner Opens Coastal Office

"We're here for a reason. To help folks rebuild their lives. And rebuild the 40,000 plus homes that have not been rebuilt on this Gulf Coast," said Mike Chaney, as the newly elected insurance commissioner opened a new office in downtown Gulfport.

Chaney says his reform strategy will focus on three "A's".

"Insurance has got to be affordable and accountable and available," he said.

Residential rebuilding continues along the coast, slowly. And most everyone you ask sees the insurance issue as critical.

"Because a bank cannot make a loan. You will have no debt service on property if you can't insure it. So, that is the single most important question that the coast has to resolve right now," said coast business owner Dave Dennis, who attended the Chaney office opening.

Members of the coast legislative delegation also welcomed the commissioner opening an office in South Mississippi.

"Insurance continues to be one of the pressing issues that we face in my district and throughout the gulf coast. And so to have this accessibility is important. We look forward to working with you," said newly elected Rep. Brandon Jones of Pascagoula.

State lawmakers say one part of insurance reform is a federal issue: All perils insurance.

"Get a resolution about the all peril insurance that we've got in Washington. And someway or another we're going to have to pass that for the entire United States," says Sen. Tommy Gollott of Biloxi.

The new commissioner promises he'll keep private companies from price gouging premiums.

"I've told the companies if they come in with these big, huge rate increases, just expect me to call a public hearing. I'm very open about it. We're not going to play footsie with these guys. We're going to hold their feet to the fire. We don't mind them making a profit, but they're not going to make ten times more than they deserve," Chaney says.

The commissioner said he's also looking at a possible "interstate agreement" with other insurance commissioners to be certain coastal states are treated fairly by the insurance industry.

The new coastal office is located in the Wetzel law office building on 24th Avenue in downtown Gulfport, across from the Harrison County courthouse.