|By Tyrone Richardson, The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Reluctantly, Jamieson said, he continued to renew his policy with the
That was until several weeks ago when Jamieson dropped out of the state's "wind pool" for a policy with a private insurer, a move he said reduces cost and adds convenience.
"It was word-of-mouth that I learned about it," he said. "I managed to combine it with my homeowners insurance, and one advantage is it gives me one company instead of dealing with two separate companies."
Jamieson is among hundreds of Lowcountry property owners who have exited the wind pool in the last few years. The state program guarantees limited and expensive wind hazard coverage for homeowners and commercial property owners in two zones near the coast.
The state program had 40,625 policies and
The main reason for the decline is that more insurance companies are entering the local market, said
"While individual insurer writings are small, they have collectively made a difference." he said.
The impact has been mounting.
The largest number of cancellations were properties in the highest-risk area known as Zone 1, which shed 24 percent of policies in that timeframe. Zone 2 showed a 3 percent gain between 2011 and last May, which Harrison attributed to the wind pool's competitive pricing for coverage.
"I would say that certain agents do not have access to other markets," he added. "As a result, the one company they represent writes the wind, or the wind goes into the wind pool."
Still, Harrison said it was good to see an overall reduction in policyholders.
"It's good that consumers have choices and options," he said. "With companies coming in, they will get better coverage and prices."
The lower price and ability to combine policies was one of the main reasons Jamieson left the state's coverage.
"It was the increases in cost," Jamieson said. "I don't recall how much it went up, but it was always increasing."
Jamieson said his wind pool renewal would have been
The resurgence in the private market is a result of better hurricane modeling and reinsurance, which is the additional coverage insurers buy to protect against liabilities, experts say.
In the past, insurers have shunned coastal properties, saying it cost too much to cover losses.
"Insurance carriers are now more advanced at how they reinsure themselves and they find opportunities to come in as a carrier and offer the coverage at affordable rates because the (state) wind association's rates are fairly high and tend to go up and they want to drive people outside that," said