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SCHotline Exclusive – Sanford Decision Costs Thousands Of Coastal Residents Access To Storm Insurance

February 6, 2007

The views and opinions expressed of A. Citizen a new series we are running on do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of  A Citizen is a new opinion forum for well sourced news you will not get from the main stream media.

By Andrew Citizen

A politically motivated, election year decision by Gov. Mark Sanford resulted in tens of thousands of coastal South Carolina residents losing access to vital storm insurance – a fact the governor is now attempting to make his Insurance Director Eleanor Kitzman the scapegoat for.

The controversy stems from the Sanford administration’s August 2006 failure to move what is called the “wind pool line,” a boundary that determines which coastal areas are eligible for wind and hail insurance given South Carolina’s vulnerability to hurricane conditions.

Sanford’s failure to move the wind pool line has resulted in approximately 20,000 South Carolinians losing access to storm insurance, a crisis which was the subject of a State House hearing last week.

According to e-mails obtained by SC Hotline, Sanford’s Insurance Director Eleanor Kitzman specifically warned the governor’s office about this impending crisis months in advance.

“Several insurers have advised that they will cease writing new business (policies) and will non-renew a portion of their existing policies due to the wind exposure,” Kitzman wrote in an August 29, 2006 e-mail to Sanford’s Cabinet Affairs liaison Marisa Crawford. “It is my belief that there are not sufficient other carriers to pick up this business when it is non-renewed.”

In addition to alerting the governor’s office to what was about to happen, Kitzman’s e-mail – which included a detailed 42-page report on the coastal insurance situation – also recommended a preemptive solution to the crisis – expanding the wind pool boundaries.

“Expanding the wind pool in the manner proposed responds to consumers’ immediate needs and will stabilize the market while exploring other long term solutions,” Kitzman wrote Crawford in the August 29 e-mail.

The following day, August 30, 2006, Kitzman met with the governor, Ms. Crawford, Scott English and legislative aide Jarrett Martin in the governor’s office, at which time she presented the governor with a formal order to move the wind pool boundary – an order he declined to authorize.

Sanford’s office is now reportedly telling members of the media that Kitzman never recommended moving the wind pool boundary. The governor’s office is also denying that the August 30, 2006 meeting ever took place although it appears on Kitzman’s schedule.

Several months later, when Farm Bureau issued non-renewal notices to approximately 3,000 coastal residents who fell outside of the wind pool area, Kitzman again alerted the governor’s office, e-mailing Sanford staffer Jarrett Martin of the non-renewal notice and reminding him that “all of these policyholders are outside of the existing Wind Pool territory.”

The governor again declined to take the necessary action.

Approximately six weeks later, in late November, Allstate issued non-renewal notices to approximately 12,000 coastal residents.

On top of this, SC Hotline is also hearing rumors that the governor’s office is in the process of replacing Kitzman in an attempt to make her the scapegoat for the coastal insurance crisis.

Neither Kitzman nor the governor’s office could immediately be reached for comment.

The views and opinions expressed of A. Citizen a new series we are running on do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of  A Citizen is a new opinion forum for well sourced news you will not get from the main stream media.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. ronald stover permalink
    February 7, 2007 12:05 AM

    thanks, i had a hard enough time making it. now i have got to look for insurance and it will not be cheap.

    thanks again

    i hope they lined your pockets good

  2. Ronald W permalink
    February 7, 2007 1:46 AM

    What is that man Sanford thinking???

    Is the Gov ever drug tested?

  3. Sandra permalink
    February 7, 2007 3:22 AM

    Unfortunately, I am one of those first 3,000 from Farm Bureau that was denied a renewal….putting a great amount of emotional stress and pressure on the family, as well as, costing us money above the collected escrow. Now, this is being tacked onto the mortgage payment raising it an extra over $100.00 more a month.

    AND, to think, I voted for you.

    What a disappointment!!!

  4. February 7, 2007 1:05 PM

    With a storm free season coupled with increase in rates added to the investment performance in the last six years of our record ecomomy paid to the insurance industry. How does the insurance industry get away with a risk free business. This does not include all the faith based contributions poured into the Katrina incident. That money should have been a tremendous relief to the insurance industry. I propose a commission to audit the insurance industry with at least as much teeth as the 911 commission. OI smell a rat at the top. The motive???

  5. Keith permalink
    February 7, 2007 2:56 PM

    3 problems with this story:
    1. You never explained what the governor’s motive was, yet you began the story by calling it “politically motivated.” How did it serve the governor’s electoral interests not to move the flood pool? I don’t get it.
    2. If you got Kitzman’s emails, and you have her schedule, how is it that she “couldn’t be reached for comment”? I’ll wager she could be reached quite easily, but she didn’t want to be quoted in a story for which she is the SOLE SOURCE.
    3. The governor’s office minutes are easily attainable. Why haven’t you compared Kitzman’s schedule — which you have, though Kitzman herself “couldn’t be reached for comment” — with the governor’s minutes for Aug. 30, 2006?
    4. What’s up with this sentence? “Sanford’s office is now reportedly telling members of the media that Kitzman never recommended moving the wind pool boundary.” Well they’re either telling “members of the media” (that’s you, SC Hotline) or they aren’t. If they are, give us the quote.

  6. Keith permalink
    February 7, 2007 2:56 PM

    Sorry, I meant four problems. The fourth occurred to me after I started. Never was good at math anyway.

  7. anthracite permalink
    February 7, 2007 4:06 PM

    Would somebody kindly explain to me why a farmer from Oconee County or a waitress from Saluda County is supposed to subsidize the insurance needs of millionaires along Route 17? Expanding the windpool in effect makes people away from the coast support more of the people who want to live on the coast. If you can afford to live on the coast, God bless you; it’s a great thing if you can. Just don’t ask me to pay for you to do it.

  8. anthracite permalink
    February 7, 2007 4:07 PM

    … so in short, yes, I agree with the Governor. You folks can go subsidize millionaires on your dime.

  9. February 7, 2007 4:48 PM

    The views and opinions expressed of A. Citizen a new series we are running on do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of A Citizen is a new opinion forum for well sourced news you will not get from the main stream media.

  10. Jeffrey Young permalink
    February 7, 2007 5:03 PM

    Why should we pay for rich peoples’ insurance? We have children at Burke High School that we cannot even buy school books for. Maybe we should prioritize. I think Governor Sanford may be the only ethical person in Columbia.

  11. Get Real permalink
    February 7, 2007 5:25 PM

    Stop whining and acting as if you are entitled to something. You live on the coast–an area of frequent hurricane activity–and then act like someone should be forced to insure you, or the government should intervene in your situation. Businesses should always be able to decide with whom they will do business, whether or not you like it.

    If you move to the coast, take responsibility for your risky behavior–just don’t expect everyone else to take responsibility FOR you.

  12. How convenient permalink
    February 7, 2007 10:09 PM

    anthracite, Jeffrey Young, Get Real:

    Where is your righteous indignation that these same coastal counties (Horry, Charleston, Beaufort) have to distribute millions in accommodations tax collections that they collect locally to the other counties around the state?

    I guess it’s ok for a farmer in Oconee County to have his road paved because Horry County was forced to send his county money, but it’s not ok for the rest of the state to share in the real costs of operating a tourism economy.

  13. What's the solution? permalink
    February 7, 2007 10:16 PM

    The ultimate problem here isn’t necessarily that Sanford didn’t expand the wind pool. It’s that he seemingly hasn’t done ANYTHING.

    As has been documented, this isn’t exactly a problem that has crept up on the governor or anyone else. So why didn’t he take any action? If the problem was that Kitzman wasn’t giving him the solution he wanted, why did he wait so long to get rid of her? Why are we in the same place where we started? This hasn’t exactly been a shining example of why the governor should have more power concentrated in the cabinet.

    And who does he pick to replace Kitzman? I have a hard time believing that anyone truly looks to Scott Richardson as the savior of anything. The Department of Insurance is in a leadership crisis internally, and is now faced with this coastal insurance problem, and instead of going out and finding someone with some intellectual clout to solve the problems, he appoints a buffoon from the state Senate.

    Sanford has constantly referring to wanting a “market based” reform for this problem. O.K., the market has decided that it doesn’t want to insure the property. Are you done? Is that it? If so, say so and let that be the end of it. But if you have an idea, by all means let it be known.

    Would any of the Sanford defenders here care to enlighten me on what exactly the governor has done, tangibly, to address this problem?

  14. truth permalink
    July 8, 2007 2:32 PM

    Why is it that the State picked up the Isle of Palms and Sullivan residents but not the hard working middle classes in Dunes and Park West. Oh yeah the Gov. house on Sullies. That clears everything up…

  15. Sissy permalink
    May 20, 2008 4:48 AM

    My insurance cost have gone up $600.00 this year because of moving the wind pool line from Hwy 17 in Horry County to Hwy 31. I am not a millionaire who has Ocean Front Property. I am a middle class single mother who can not afford an increase in Homeowner’s insurance of $50.00 a month. My homeowner’s insurance in now almost $200.00 a month. How can you afford to feed a family when insurance (homeowner’s, auto, and health) costs as much as you can make a month. I guess it is okay to be homeless as long as you can afford the ever increasing insurance rates. The upside is that without a home you don’t have to pay the $600.00 increase in insurance rates caused by moving the wind pool line.


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