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Candidate touts insurance reform

Conditions on the Gulf Coast will continue to drive insuranceconcerns for quite some time, but many are unaware of how thatimpacts other portions of the state, the Republican candidate forinsurance commissioner said Wednesday.

Mike Chaney, in a visit to The DAILY LEADER office, estimated50,000 homes on the Gulf Coast have still not been rebuilt becauseresidents can not find available and affordable insurance.

The lack of that insurance on the coast is causing an inlandmigration and preventing residents who fled the wrath of HurricaneKatrina from returning, he said. That poses a problem because muchof the state’s industry is located on the coast and they can notoperate without employees to work in the plants.

“The key to what we have to do in Mississippi is lower the ratesfor everyone in Mississippi,” he said.

Chaney said that was no more important than the coast, whereresidents pay an additional $5,000 annually for wind coverage.

“If the rates are not stabilized on the Gulf Coast and lowered,it will soon affect all Mississippi. As the coast goes so goesMississippi,” he said. “When your monthly insurance premium ishigher than your monthly mortgage, there’s a problem.”

The importance of affordable insurance was one reason Chaneysaid he pushed for the passage of the Rural Fire Truck Program as amember of the Mississippi Senate, where he presently chairs theeducation committee and serves on the insurance committee. Hesupports a further expansion of the program.

Most of the county’s volunteer fire departments have used theprogram to assist them in the purchase of a new fire truck. Thetype and age of fire trucks in a department are key elements neededin creating a fire grading district and securing higher fireratings, which lowers the cost of fire insurance.

Continued growth in the rural departments will depend onconvincing the legislature of the necessity of funding theMississippi Fire Academy in Jackson and providing additional moniesfor the departments to purchase equipment, he said.