Dale: Despite Katrina, future of insurance industry sound

Published 6:00 am Monday, February 13, 2006

Insurance Commissioner George Dale addressed the future concernsof the industry during a meeting of the Southwest MississippiChapter of the National Association of Insurance and FinancialAdvisors Friday.

The volatile insurance climate created by Hurricane Katrina hasleft many pondering the future of the industry, Dale told theapproximately 30 agents present.

Dale said the concerns are largely unwarranted because “everyindustrial country has a viable insurance market” and America’s islarger than all of them. The United States has more than 2,000insurance companies, which is more than 10 times the amount of anyother country.

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Katrina has, however, caused tension among the insurancecompanies and victims of the storm.

“These last five months have been the most difficult of my 31years as commissioner,” Dale said. “This storm was so big that itcompletely engulfed the insurance industry and the government.”

Dale said he knows he is doing his job correctly because neitherthe insurance industry nor the victims of Hurricane Katrina arehappy with him.

More than $2.1 billion in home claims has been paid in the threecounties most affected by the storm, Dale said, and those figuresdo not include many pay-outs to businesses and other victims.

Statistics show that it would take the past 18 years ofinsurance premiums on Mississippi policies to pay for the past fivemonths of damage recovery on the coast, Dale said. Therefore, hestressed, the government and victims cannot expect the insuranceindustry to rebuild the coast on its own.

“The Mississippi Gulf Coast cannot be rebuilt on the back of theinsurance industry,” Dale said. “It will take all of us workingtogether. We have a long way to go.”