Insuring hurricane alley

This photo from the NOAA National Hurricane Center shows the center of Hurricane Isabel located about 780 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. on September 15, 2003.

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Hurricane forecasters are warning that 2007 looks like a very active year, but the nation's insurance industry is still coping with more than $80 billion in property losses from the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Some insurance companies are pulling out of coastal areas and forcing states to fill in the gap. From Washington, John Dimsdale says Congress will weigh in on the problem today.


JOHN DIMSDALE: To shield their taxpayers from potential liability, states in hurricane alley are asking for a national catastrophe fund.

But Robert Hartwig with the Insurance Information Institute will warn Senators today that government meddling could make things worse.

ROBERT HARTWIG: Regulators have systematically held down rates to a point where insurers can't charge a premium that is commensurate with the risk they're being asked to assume.

But insurance companies shouldn't be allowed to plead poverty, says Bob Hunter with the Consumer Federation of America.

HUNTER: In 2004, with the hurricanes in Florida, they set a record profit. In 2005, another record, even with Katrina. And in 2006, without hurricanes, a huge record.

Congressional efforts to set up a federal backstop for hurricane funds usually run into a wall of opposition from lawmakers representing interior states.

Why, they ask, should their constituents have to cover people who live in hurricane-prone areas?

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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