Soon To Be Former State Farm Customers Think About Options

BILOXI (WLOX) -- The non-renewal letters may not arrive for several months, but hundreds of Mississippi coast residents who are losing their property insurance are already starting to think about life after State Farm. The transition to another insurance company is sure to be more difficult for some than for others.

Evelyn Meers is the third generation to live in a nearly 100-year-old Seal Avenue house in Biloxi.

"It's just a dream living a house this old and this perfect all throughout," said Meers. "No real damage has ever been done to it. I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Meers also wouldn't trade her State Farm homeowners' insurance, which she says has been good to her for more then 40 years.

"I've had State Farm for as long as I can remember. Even before I came here, " she said. "They're just fine people to work with. I've never had an argument with them on anything."

Because of the short distance between Meers' house and the Mississippi Sound, she'll likely be one of the 900 State Farm customers whose policies will be canceled after this hurricane season.

State Farm announced this week their decision not to renew policies for homeowners living within 1,000 feet of the water, be it the Mississippi Sound or a bay. Company officials say they made that decision based on the legal climate and Mississippi's uncertain market.

Meers said, "I feel that's a sorry reason. All the money we've paid into it, that ought to cover what little it's gonna cost."

The 82-year-old widow says she's not familiar with any of the other insurance companies or how to go about getting coverage.

"It makes me feel terrible that I might have to go through another process of hunting somebody that will have me," she said. "So it's gonna be a job for me. I going to have to rely on my neighbors and see who they pick because I don't really know any of them."

Another 4,000 people will lose their State Farm wind coverage because they live with 2,500 feet of the Mississippi Sound or any bays that spill into the sound.

State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said on Thursday that other companies have agreed to fill some of the gap State Farm will drop. On Friday, WLOX-TV was able to gain clarification on what type of coverage Allstate and Nationwide have agreed to write for residents living within 1,000 feet of the water. State officials say those policies will not include wind coverage.

Those people will likely end up in the state-run wind pool. Chaney says the program is prepared to absorb an additional 4,000 property owners.