Friday, February 23, 2007

The unconscionable, unbearable Trent Lott

Kimberly Strassel of the WSJ details how Trent Lott is waging a personal vendetta against the insurance industry because State Farm refused to pay for Hurricane Katrina flood damage to his beachside home (one of three houses the Senator owns), although the damage was NOT covered by Lott's policy and Lott had Federal flood insurance for the same harm.

Lott, Mississippi Congressman Gene Taylor and others, with the assist of Mississippi AG Jim Hood, filed a mass lawsuit against State Farm and others for not paying out for Katrina damage, despite the fact that the damage was not covered under the policies those insurers issued. [Worse yet, Federal flood insurance is available for houses built in flood plains -- an encouragement to build and live in the soon-to-be swamp and pass potential rebuilding costs on to the taxpayers at large]. State Farm caved, but has also pulled out of doing business in coastal Mississippi. Strassel has more:

Lost among all the politicians' war-whooping over the State Farm capitulation, is the effect this extortion has had on the private insurance industry. In recent weeks companies from State Farm to AllState have stopped writing policies in parts of Mississippi, which will result in consumers having fewer insurance choices, if they can find insurance at all.

Ah, but never fear: Washington has a solution for that, too. In the face of insurers exiting his state (in no small part because of the actions of politicians), Mr. Taylor earlier this month introduced yet another piece of insurance legislation. This one would expand the national flood insurance program to cover other hurricane-related damage. In other words, the Mississippian wants to create a new federal disaster insurance program that will put taxpayers--rather than private insurers--on the hook next time a storm hits. Revenge is a scary thing.


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