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Chaney: Mitigation program would save money, property, and lives

One of the top complaints I receive as Commissioner of Insurance is regarding the rate increases policyholders are seeing in this difficult market. I am certainly sympathetic to this, as I have seen rate increases on my own property as well. Inflation and supply chain issues have affected the cost of goods around the world and right here in Mississippi. Most insurers I talk to are seeking rate relief due to the cost associated with repairing and rebuilding non-fortified homes in addition to reinsurance costs.

We now have an opportunity to do something positive and offer some relief to the policyholders of this State. Legislation has been introduced that would create the Hurricane and Wind Mitigation Program, which would provide a statewide mitigation program within the Mississippi Insurance Department (MID), as all Mississippians have the potential to be impacted by hurricanes, high winds, and tornadoes.

Mitigation efforts can include building at a higher elevation, adding hurricane shutters, fastening your roof to the walls with hurricane straps, and buying flood insurance, among other efforts. For every one dollar spent on mitigation, the average payback on the investment happens within 2.7 years. Mitigation makes communities more resilient following catastrophic events as it can lessen loss severity and allow homeowners to get back on their feet quicker. Research shows that fortified roofs reduce insurer loss severity by as much as 60 percent. Mississippi state law requires insurance companies to give discounts to people who mitigate their home to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) standards, and insurers have filed discounts with MID ranging from 15 percent to 30 percent for those fortified homes.

Research from IBHS shows that investing a few hundred extra dollars when replacing your roof, can save you thousands in damage later. However, not everyone has a few hundred dollars lying around to spend on mitigating your home as sometimes more pressing expenses take precedence. If passed, the new law would create the Mississippi Comprehensive Hurricane and Wind Damage Mitigation Program Trust Fund. The Trust Fund would be funded by diverting a current assessment on property and

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