Letter to the Editor: Katrina's victims should sue insurers

Baltimore Sun
Wednesday, September 28, 2005

 Jay Hancock's column "Gulf victims deluged by bad advice" (Sept. 25), which suggests that the victims of Hurricane Katrina are wrong to fight insurers in court, is extremely misinformed on the law and the facts.

First, most residents have policies that cover wind and rain damage, which contributed significantly to Gulf Coast property losses. That some insurers are refusing to pay these claims is reprehensible. In fact, consumers' rights to have such claims paid is an issue that has been litigated several times in Mississippi, and policyholders have won every time.

Second, it is well-settled that any ambiguity in an insurance contract is decided in favor of the policyholder even though he or she signed the contract. Calls to our complaint hot line suggest many homeowners were misled or confused by agents when buying these policies, thinking they had full coverage for "hurricanes" and only finding out now that they did not.

The insurance industry, which made more money last year than ever in its history, can and must handle these claims without raising prices or asking for a taxpayer bailout.

Laurie Beacham & Amy Widman 
New York 

The writers work for the Center for Justice and Democracy.

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