2007-02-01 / News

Legislators to hear about rising premiums

By Sam Bari

An ad hoc House committee on homeowners' insurance and reinsurance wants to hear from you if your insurance premiums have dramatically escalated.

The committee will meet Tuesday, Feb. 6, at the rise of the House session between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. in Room 35 on the basement level of the State House to solicit testimony from homeowners who have experienced soaring homeowners' insurance costs in recent months.

Anyone wishing to offer testimony in this televised meeting is asked to call Deborah Lavender at 222-2259, or contact Rep. Bruce Long R-Jamestown, Middletown, by telephone at 423-0700, or e-mail at repbruce74@aol.com.

Following the devastation left along the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina last year, many insurers, prompted by demands by their reinsurance issuers, have revised their policies to identify more properties than ever before as "at risk" for hurricane or other severe weather damage.

As a result, people living well above sea level, sometimes several miles from the shore are facing double-digit premium hikes and deductibles of $20,000 or more. Many are being required to purchase flood insurance as well as make structural changes to their homes or risk losing their policies. Despite the price and deductible increases, insurers are still dropping some homes altogether, saying they represent too big a risk.

In response to those changes, several area legislators formed an ad hoc committee spearheaded by Representatives John Patrick Shanley DSouth Kingstown and Paul Crowley D-Newport, and strongly supported by Rep. Long to examine the matter and possibly develop legislation to protect Rhode Island homeowners from undue insurance costs.

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