Get rates right

Your March 24 editorial, “Audit Homeowners Insurance,” was based on numerous inaccurate, misleading, and incomplete facts. In particular, it falsely asserted that South Carolina residents pay among the highest premiums in the nation and that the state’s insurance companies can automatically increase rates.

I want to set the record straight.

South Carolinians pay the fourth lowest average insurance rates among coastal states from Texas to Virginia and rank 13th nationally.

Property insurance requires a long-term perspective, so reviewing any 10-year sample can be misleading. Over the last 25 years, for example, South Carolina homeowner insurers have actually had a negative return on net worth (-8.24 percent). Over that time, insurers in Florida and Louisiana are the only coastal states that have lost more on a net worth basis.

Hurricanes are (thankfully) infrequent events. However, frequency alone is an incomplete evaluation of risk. In addition to “how often,” insurance companies must consider “how much.”

South Carolina has $229.6 billion in insured property along its coast, representing 28 percent of the state’s total insured value.

This percentage is much higher than neighboring states. When catastrophic storms do hit our state, costs are enormous. Hurricanes have proven to wipe out decades of premium (not just profit) in a single day.

While hurricanes may be infrequent, their timing is unpredictable, and insurance companies must be prepared to pay for covered losses whenever they happen. A “100 year storm” is an event that has a 1 percent chance of occurring every year.

Over the term of a 30-year mortgage, there’s a greater than 25 percent chance of being affected by a “100 year storm.”

Finally, there is no such thing as an automatic rate increase in South Carolina. Every rate filing is reviewed by the Department of Insurance.

The state’s “flex-band” simply allows an insurance company to adjust to changes in the marketplace more quickly since a response from the department within 30 days is required. Rate increases have actually slowed since the “flex-band” was established in 2007.

Russ Dubisky

Executive Director

S.C. Insurance News Service

Gervais Street

Columbia

Ignoring waste

1) Three calligraphers for the White House paid annually for a total of $277,000?

2) $27 million given to teach Moroccans how to make pottery?

3) Joe Biden’s one-night stay in London ($459,000) and the next one-night stay in Paris ($585,000)?

4) The Pentagon is considering allocating $150 million to do upgrades for the prisoners at Gitmo?

5) President Obama promising King Abdullah of Jordan $200 million to help out his refugees?

6) A 20-car motorcade to take the president six blocks to a restaurant to dine with Republicans. (I thought the White House had its own chef and staff).

And if you want to educate yourself about the NFL’s tax breaks because it claims to be non-profit, the study of a new robot squirrel and its relation to snakes, the ongoing development of a “mars menu” and other ridiculous government waste just google waste book.com.

Were we not warned by this administration just three weeks ago of all the horrific things that would happen because of sequestration? I suppose this is par for this administration’s course.

Where is the outcry, the protests from all taxpayers in this country? Have we really become so accustomed to the waste, the fraud and incompetence in Washington that we just allow the aristocrats to keep on spending?

Louise Anderson

Gordon Street

Charleston

Warped penalties

In the Charleston area, a teenager is struck by a car while riding a bicycle on Highway 176.

The teenager eventually dies from his injuries. The driver, who left the scene of the accident, is given two years’ probation.

In Georgetown, a man tapes the legs of two dogs and throws them in a canal. One of the dogs dies. The man is sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Only in South Carolina.

Paul N. Mack

Peppertree Lane

North Charleston

Keep papal order

I have already seen the new pope referred to as Pope Francis the First.

When a previous pope took the name “John Paul the First” he was reminded by some Roman Catholic scholars that a pope can never be called “the first” until a later pope is called “the second.”

With this understanding, if a later pope takes the name Francis then he will be called Pope Francis the second and the present pope will be known as Pope Francis the first, rather than Pope Francis, which is the correct name for him now.

Claude Crawford

Hara Lane

Charleston

A governor’s gall

I was stunned to see Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley in Charleston criticizing our governor this past weekend. It is ironic that Gov. O’Malley, who has presided over a state that has seen a spike in unemployment since he took office, criticized Gov. Nikki Haley, who has led our state to a drop in unemployment. Also, when Gov. O’Malley took office, Maryland had more than 10 Fortune 500 companies. There are now only two. Many have fled to more business-friendly states such as their neighbor Virginia, led by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Our state is making progress under Gov. Haley’s leadership.

In the last few years, we’ve seen Boeing and Continental Tire set up here; we’ve had Michelin and BMW expand their operations in South Carolina; and we’ve seen unemployment steadily drop from the unbearable heights it was at just a few years ago. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but we’re on the right path.

And if state Sen. Vince Sheheen thinks he’s going to distract us, he’s wrong.

Lin Bennett

Chairman, Charleston County

Republican Party

Ainsdale Drive

Charleston

Recycle signs

I did my usual post-election cleanup of the right-of-way on my commute and collected a lot of signs for the candidates who did not get selected or make the runoff. I encourage your readers to do the same and to pick up other trash they encounter as they do this.

After I collected the signs, I talked with Charleston County Environmental Services, which operates our recycling program. I was informed that due to construction of the most common signs — corrugation and coatings to be specific — they cannot be recycled under existing programs. I discovered that other cities, such as Albany, Ore., and Corvallis, Ore., recycle signs via Allied/Republic Waste Services. They are not in the normal recycle stream. But neither are batteries and televisions, and they can be dropped off at Charleston County’s recycling centers.

I encourage our civic leaders to explore recycling political signs. If necessary, raise the filing fee for candidates to pay for the recycling.

Carlsen Huey

Middle Street

Sullivan’s Island

Where’s the need?

I’ve asked this question many times to many people, and no one will offer a quality answer: Why in the last 50 years has our population increased by 100 million people, mostly immigrants, and yet our need for more workers has diminished because of less manufacturing, less farming, etc.?

What are those 100 million doing and why are they needed? And more are coming every day.

Greg Firpo

New Castle Loop

Goose Greek

Clean up or pay up

At what point is roadside political debris subject to littering fines?

Colin Bentley

Old Pond Road

Johns Island