Rebuild coast letter

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Letter to the editor
Speed says rebuilding of state’s coast important post-Katrina

To the Editor:

Our Coast needs to rebuild now and overcome the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. We all want the same thing for that beautiful region of our state: to allow people to rebuild their homes and businesses and to create a vibrant economy for that region and our state. Key to accomplishing these goals is finalizing insurance settlements. Let’s face it, cost and availability of insurance is slowing the rebuilding of the Coast.

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The Mississippi Insurance Department (MID) has hammered out an agreement with State Farm and Nationwide – the two biggest insurers on the Coast – that reopens thousands of claims to t ake another look so that additional monies may be paid on these homeowners policies, with an emphasis on the “slab” claims cases first. State Farm alone has pledged a minimum of $50 million to this process. Policyholders can’t lost with this agreement. If the new offer is not acceptable, the policyholder may opt for mediation where a third party arranged by the MID helps the two parties reach a fair agreement. The ongoing mediation program has proven very successful and is non-binding, repeat, non-binding, so policyholders retain the right to seek litigation if they are still dissatisfied. There is no risk or cost to the policyholder and the process is simpler and faster than the uncertainties and delays of lawsuits.

We’ve still got thousands of families on the Gulf Coast living in FEMA trailers. Let’s let regulation, the settlement and mediation continue to work for the people of Mississippi. We do not need further delays caused by the invtervention of the state Attorney General, by plaintiff’s lawyers or by others who want to disrupt a fair process that will work. The insurance department is the proper authority to address and resolve complex insurance issues –  by getting claims paid and by creating an environment in which insurance companies will want to operate in Mississippi. Let’s allow this state agency to do its job and get our Coast rebuilt.


Leland R. Speed


EastGroup Properties