At this point, it’s been more than a decade since Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Mississippi Gulf coast, caused billions of dollars worth of damages, and took thousands of lives in the process. However, those who survived that difficult time are still, after all these years, paying much higher prices for their home insurance coverage – and for some consumers, the issue is so problematic that they face losing their homes. For these reasons, insurance agents operating along that coast will likely have to do more to make sure they’re fully explaining the situation to their clients, and helping them to understand why they pay what they do.
When Katrina – and then Hurricane Rita – hit the coast about 10 years ago, they led to tens of billions of dollars in claims combined, according to a report from the Biloxi Sun Herald. However, the state of Louisiana has done a lot to help get home insurance rate increases under control, and these days, they’re growing far more slowly than they did in the past; the average increase state-wide last year was in the low single digits.
“I see a lot of homes going back to the lender, much like when the housing market crashed, which means the state is going to lose all kind of revenue, and people will be just like me: renting until they die when we have fought through so much to hang on so we could at least have a place to live when we grow old and can no longer work day in and day out,” Roy Tootle, a self-employed handyman who has owned his home for 30 years but may soon be forced out by rate increases, told the newspaper. “I am afraid that is where I am headed and I will be with a very large group of people.”
So what’s the problem?
At issue here is the fact that even slight home insurance rate increases for many along the Mississippi Gulf coast is that these are still slight increases over “astronomical” costs in the wake of these storms, the report said. Indeed, Tootle says his costs have increased some 225 percent since Katrina hit, and this is for a number of reasons.
For instance, flood insurance costs have spiked, as have those for insurance against wind damage, the report said. That, in turn, led to an average price jump in the entire state of Mississippi of 160 percent from 2004 to 2013.
What can agents do?
The more agents can do to educate consumers as to the ins and outs of how home insurance premiums are set, the better off both may be in the future. This is because people who understand their coverage tend to feel better about it in general, even if that means they pay slightly higher prices than others. Meanwhile, an improved satisfaction level with a policy overall will typically lead to people feeling better about their relationships with their agents as well. That, in turn, will typically lead to higher customer ratings and client retention rates down the road.