Most people do not look at their insurance policy until loss or damage forces them to. And most will agree that trying to find confirmation of coverage is not as easy as expected. Typically, insurance policies are very long and the various coverage provisions and exclusions can be confusing and sometimes ambiguous.

This scenario became glaringly apparent in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Many policyholders found themselves in a very uncertain world, trusting solely on their relationship with their insurance carrier only to be denied coverage based on an exclusion they had never heard of. And oftentimes worse, many policyholders did not receive many benefits under their policy because their insurance adjuster did not inform them of the coverages and benefits available to them.

In an effort to prevent this unnecessary chaos in the future, several Mississippi lawmakers have recognized the importance of legislation to ensure that the citizens of Mississippi are aware of their rights as policyholders and informed of any exclusions in their policies that would be cause for denial of coverage. Unfortunately, these measures have not yet made their way to the Governor.

The Mississippi lawmakers started back in Session on January 6, 2009. We are in the process of preparing and pitching an Insurance Modernization Package to our lawmakers that will include, among other measures, a Policyholder Bill of Rights and other important legislation that will provide for timely payment of claims and penalties for noncompliance and unfair trade practices.

So far, this has proven to be an uphill battle in Mississippi, but one worthy of pursuing. The citizens of Mississippi are not insisting on anything that the insurance carriers are not already obligated to do in many other states across the nation.

In the typical, hospitable Mississippi fashion, Mississippi has focused on the needs of their business guests first. As Mississipians rebuild their beautiful coast, they are acutely aware of the need for a fair and balanced co-existence with their insurer. It is now time to focus on the needs of the citizens of Mississippi.

Stay tuned….we are in for a promising year!