Mississippi state Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney announced recently that Safeco Insurance has plans to offer homeowners insurance, including wind coverage, in southern part of his state. Beginning in mid-March, Chaney says, the company will offer between 500-1,000 homeowners policies with wind coverage.
For homeowners who live in places frequently hit by hurricanes, wind coverage is on an equal par with flood insurance as a key form of coverage, but many insurers have restricted wind coverage in Mississippi, or even stopped offering it completely to new or nonrenewed policyholders who are also coastal residents.
Mr. Chaney believes Safeco will also offer discounts to customers who want to strengthen their homes, in order to minimize hurricane damage, though that will be sometime in the future.
Safeco is not the only new player on the Mississippi coast, however. Chaney said that another major company, Republic Insurance Group, is also writing new homeowner policies for clients with property near the shore, and those policies also include wind coverage.
A lingering effect of Hurricane Katrina is that many policyholders with coastal property have been forced into the state-run wind pool. This pool maintains rates higher than the private market.