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Dale Announces MID Homeowner Insurance Policyholder Bill of Rights
From: Office of the State Insurance Commissioner     Filed  1/4/07  GCN

Jackson -Commissioner of Insurance George Dale today announced that the Mississippi Insurance Department (MID) has filed a new proposed regulation with the Secretary of State's Office that outlines, in detail, a homeowner insurance policyholder bill of rights. Two major components of the regulation are the bill of rights and the requirement that all property and casualty insurers writing homeowners personal lines residential insurance property coverage provide an outline of coverage for homeowners insurance policies, including renters/tenants insurance and mobile home/manufactured housing property coverage. Insurance companies will be required to provide an outline of coverage that will help policyholders better understand the principal benefits and coverage provided in their policy.

After Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, and caused massive destruction within the State, the MID found that many policyholders who filed property loss claims were inadequately insured or did not fully understand the insurance they had purchased.

"This important new regulation will give the MID a powerful new tool in assisting consumers in this state. With it, we can help resolve many of the problems brought to light by the sheer scope and enormity of Hurricane Katrina in regard to citizens understanding their homeowner's insurance policy. I am confident this proposed regulation will prove beneficial to Mississippi policyholders," said Dale.

The regulation shall apply to all insurance companies, including surplus lines companies, the Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association, and the Mississippi Residential Property Insurance Underwriting Association, writing homeowners personal lines residential property coverage insurance policies in the State of Mississippi.

A public hearing on the proposed regulation, which will be held before the regulation is adopted, is scheduled for January 26, 2007. The public is invited to attend and can also submit written comments on the proposed regulation. The proposed regulation can be found on the Mississippi Insurance Department website at www.doi.state.ms.us.

Policyholder Bill of Rights

The rights set forth below shall serve as standards to be followed by the Mississippi Department of Insurance in exercising the Department's power and duties, in exercising administrative discretion, in dispensing administrative interpretations of the law, and in adopting rules. These rights include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Policyholders shall have the right to competitive pricing practices and marketing methods that enable them to determine the best value among comparable coverage.

2. Policyholders shall have the right to insurance advertising and other selling approaches that provide accurate and balanced information on the benefits and limitations of a policy.

3. Policyholders shall have the right to an insurance company that is financially stable.

4. Policyholders shall have the right to be serviced by a competent, honest insurance producer.

5. Policyholders shall have the right to a readable policy.

6. Policyholders shall have the right to an insurance company that provides an economic delivery of coverage and that tries to prevent losses.

7. Policyholders shall have the right to a balanced and positive regulation by the Mississippi Department of Insurance.

8. Policyholders shall have the right to request the license status of an insurance company or producer.

9. Policyholders shall have the right to receive in writing from their insurance company the reason for any denial or non-renewal of coverage. The written statement from the insurance company must provide an adequate explanation for the denial or non-renewal of coverage.

10. Policyholders shall have the right to cancel their policy and receive a refund of any unearned premium. If a policy was funded by a premium finance company, the unearned premium will be returned to the premium finance company to pay towards the policyholder's financing loan.

11. Policyholders shall have the right to a written notification detailing any change in coverage at renewal.

12. Policyholders shall have the right to receive a written explanation of why a claim is denied in whole or in part.

13. Policyholders shall have the right to request and receive from the insurance company any adjuster's reports, engineer reports, contractor reports, statements or documents which are not privileged documents that the insurance company prepared, had prepared, or used during its adjustment of the policyholder's claim.

14. Policyholders shall have the right to file a written complaint against any insurance company or insurance producer with the Mississippi Department of Insurance, and to have that complaint investigated by the Mississippi Department of Insurance

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