Saint Paul, Minn. — The Travelers Cos. Inc., Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. and two national insurance agent and broker organizations announced support of a comprehensive, private-market approach to improve the affordability and availability of coastal wind storm insurance for homeowners. Federal legislation would be required to enact the outlined concept.

The latest advancements in technology have helped make this solution possible. Continued improvements in technology devoted to measure and predict winds, as well as actuarial efforts that enable insurers to more efficiently work with data, among other advancements, helped pave the way for this proposal.

"Travelers is committed to finding a private-market solution to the nation's coastal insurance challenges," says Travelers Chairman and CEO Jay Fishman. "The comprehensive concept we are offering reflects input and ideas from across the industry, and is based on four pillars that, taken together, focus on facilitating the availability and affordability of private insurance for hurricane and tropical storm wind coverage along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts."

Also supporting the "Four Pillars" principles are Nationwide Insurance, a diversified insurance and financial services organization, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (Big I), representing a national alliance of 300,000 business owners and their employees and The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (The Council), an association for commercial insurance agents and brokers.

"Property owners who live in hurricane-prone areas deserve the same peace of mind and availability of insurance coverage as everyone else," says Jerry Jurgensen, Nationwide Insurance CEO. "Nationwide supports the 'Four Pillars' as a consistent, reasonable approach to managing coastal risk. These principles, if implemented, provide a sound framework that would encourage private insurance companies to broaden availability of property wind insurance coverage for consumers who live near the water."

The "Four Pillars" include:

1. A stable and consistent regulatory environment, with a uniform set of rules applied to named wind coverage for coastal zones from Texas to Maine. This portion of the homeowner policy would be regulated by an independent federal body, with the remainder of the policy still regulated by the states.

2. Transparency in calculating insurance premiums, with risk-based, actuarially sound rates using approved standards and wind risk models, and a rating calculation mechanism to be applied if models and actual experience become misaligned over time.

3. A federal reinsurance mechanism for extreme events (such as hurricanes causing losses several times greater than those arising out of Hurricane Katrina), with the reinsurance made available to insurers at cost so there would be no taxpayer subsidy, and the savings passed directly to customers.

4. Encouraging stronger homes through federal guidelines for appropriate building codes and land-use planning, with incentives for state and local adoption, plus enhanced construction technology and meaningful premium credits for customers who make their homes less vulnerable to wind damage.

"We believe these comprehensive principles provide the needed framework to assist America's coastal families in preparing to repair, rebuild and recover from the aftermath of named storm catastrophes," Travelers' Fishman says. "We've held extensive discussions with key members of Congress, public officials at the state and local level, insurance agents and other industry leaders and appreciate the wide range of participants who recognize this as a viable solution to a challenging market problem.&quo ;

"As governor of a Gulf Coast state, I'm encouraged by the principles outlined with these four pillars," says Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. "With the projections of risk from future hurricanes, I'm committed to working with my fellow governors, Congress and others to find solutions to the current insurance market issues. We should not wait for the next major storm before solving the substantial challenges of coastal insurance availability and affordability."

Source: The Travelers Cos. Inc.

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