A Mississippi lawmaker and attorney, Sen. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, arrived to the Senate after beating back conservative Democrat Scottie Cuevas in the Democratic primary in 2007. Since his arrival, the frequent insurance-industry critic has become a champion of insurance reform, pushing time and again for an insurance policy-holder's bill of rights, which includes new laws regulating the insurance industry's use of anti-concurrent causation clauses in home-protection policies.
The anti-concurrent causation clause allows private insurance companies to avoid paying for any damage to homes where wind acts concurrently with flooding to cause damage to the insured property. Under the clause, coverage for the loss exists only under flood coverage, and that's only if the customer bought flood coverage. The company could avoid paying any wind-related damages so long as water comes in contact with the property at the time of the destruction.
U.S. Rep. Gene Tayloranother Gulf Coast resident like Bariaargues on his Web site that State Farm provided "an excellent example" of the industry's abuse of the clause after Hurricane Katrina.
"If after Katrina's four hours of hurricane force winds of up to 150 mph that had hit the Gulf Coast before the storm surge reached its peak, if so much as a single 2-x-4 were left standing on a property and the water that finally came ashore pushed it over, the insurance company would not pay a penny on the homeowners' policies regardless of the amount of damage and destruction hurricane force winds had caused."
Baria said the insurance committee chairman refused to let his policy-holder's bill of rights out of committee last year, but he will continue to push for it, nevertheless. We will see this year if Insurance Committee Chairman Eugene Clarke, R-Hollandale, is more responsive.
A lifelong Mississippian, Baria, 47, and wife Marcie have two children, Merritt and Bess, and have adopted a son. Baria graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a criminal justice bachelor's in 1987 and received his law degree from Ole Miss in 1990. He and his family lost their Bay St. Louis home to Hurricane Katrina Aug. 29, 2005.