Over the past several months, we have read stories and opinion pieces saying that South Carolina is not considered a “high risk” state for hurricanes. Most recently, we read it in Rep. Leon Stravrinakis’ guest column on Feb. 1.
Let’s set the record straight. This is a misleading and dangerous statement, and I am extremely concerned about the impact this will have on the homeowners insurance market in this state. I urge the South Carolina General Assembly to carefully evaluate these claims and to proceed with extreme caution before taking any action.
Just look at our previous history: Hurricanes Hugo, Hazel and Gracie, and the great Sea Island Storm of 1893, all significantly impacted our state. While no one knows when a hurricane will hit South Carolina, it is undeniable that we have exposure to these types of catastrophic events.
Hurricanes cause significant damage well beyond their specific point of landfall and often span hundreds of miles. Hurricanes are not the state’s only risk exposure. In recent years, non-catastrophic wind events have driven losses.
I live and work along South Carolina’s coast as a business person and insurance consumer. I remember what the market was like following hurricanes Rita, Allison and Katrina, which did not directly impact South Carolina. Markets were not readily available for some of my clients. The South Carolina Wind and Hail Underwriting Association was the only option for some of them. Today, I have markets. I am able to help my clients find insurance coverage. I would urge the General Assembly to proceed with caution and not take any action that would reduce the availability of insurance coverage in South Carolina.
Affordability and availability issues come in cycles, depending upon the nature of losses. This issue is separate and distinct from the issue of the qualifications of the current nominee for insurance director. We hope the Legislature will be guided by the provisions of South Carolina law.
South Carolina law provides that the insurance director must be selected with special reference to experience, technical knowledge and administrative experience in the insurance industry. Mr. Farmer appears to satisfy those qualifications.
Mr. Farmer has more than 40 years of insurance experience in the industry and as a regulator. If that does not qualify him for the position, I do not know what does.
KATHY D. McKAY, CIC, CPIW
McKay, Snelling and Associates