Insurance Crisis Affecting Many Mississippians

Recently, several doctors have said they may have to leave Mississippi. But the growing insurance crisis affects more than just physicians.

Jim Harper of Gautier drives a tow truck for a living. He used to have three, now he has one, due in part to high insurance rates. This year, his bill went up another 30 percent.

"I am disgusted, that is about all you can do is just say you are disgusted with the whole system," Harper says.

Harper realizes he is not as bad off as some friends who also have small businesses. He claims some have been forced to drop their insurance.

According to Harper, "You get the big boys in the big suits and the big office buildings, taking what they want when they want, how they want, and leave people like us out here to make it up for them somewhere, sometime, some day."

Another area hard hit is homeowners' insurance. Jim Atcheson, a coast realtor, says many new buyers are finding they have to pay about twice as much as they expected, as for the response from the insurance companies, Acheson says they really don't care.

"When you talk to the insurance companies, the ones that are writing policies, their response is you ought to be grateful we are writing at any price, because many are not," Acheson says.

State Insurance Commissioner George Dale says that's exactly right, and there is little that can be done about it.

"We have four companies that write 91 percent of the business in the most heavily populated area of our state," commissioner Dale says. He goes on to point out, "It is a constant battle to keep them writing, a constant battle."

So the insurance crisis is hitting most everyone in this state in one way or another. As for what the future holds, tow truck driver Jim Harper says it's not a pretty picture.

"It's going to get much worse, it is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better,'' Harper said with a sigh.

By: Jeff Lawson