Twister insurance claims top Katrina’s, Chaney says

Published 12:20 pm Friday, May 14, 2010

Despite a vastly smaller area damaged, average homeowner insurance claims following the April 24 tornado have run larger than during Hurricane Katrina, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said Thursday.

Chaney said 3,008 claims filed from Warren, Yazoo, Holmes, Attala, Choctaw, Benton, Tippah and Tishomingo counties have averaged $18,000, compared to claims that averaged $15,500 during Katrina in 2005.

“Not a lot of claims that will affect you that much,” Chaney said during a speech before the Vicksburg Rotary Club. “Larger than in Katrina, just not as widespread. I just don’t see an effect on the rates at all,” Chaney said, adding his office has maintained a claims trailer in the strike zone.

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The first-term insurance commissioner and state fire marshal estimated no long-term effects for Mississippi homeowner insurance ratepayers from the powerful tornado, as has been the case since Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005.

Effects from Katrina triggered a series of requests for rate hikes from the industry since the hurricane. State Farm’s rates for homeowners insurance are up 3.9 percent statewide and are writing new policies only if another of its policies is canceled. Allstate’s two policy issuers have asked to raise homeowner rates, with Allstate Property and Casualty’s set at 44 percent. Chaney has said he won’t allow the increase, leaving a protest through the insurance commission or a lawsuit as the company’s lone option.