Mass. Senate Candidate Coakley Springs to Defend Coastal Homeowners

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has intervened on behalf of state homeowners to avert a proposed homeowners' insurance rate hike, the Patriot-Ledger newspaper reports (" Thousands of coastal homeowners would get a break in FAIR Plan deal," by Jon Chesto). Instead of rate hikes of 2.2% to 6.3%, coastal counties will now see rates remain flat, the paper said, assuming the deal withstands review by the state's insurance commissioner. Rates for homeowners in some interior parts of the state will be reduced under the agreement between Coakley's office and the Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriters Association, also known as the FAIR Plan. The FAIR Plan is the state's insurer of last resort for homeowners unable to get coverage in the private market. Coastal homeowners continue to pay higher rates than inland property owners; in 2006, the insurance commission approved (over Coakley's opposition) a 25% rate hike for homeowners on Cape Cod and the Islands (Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard), the state's most exposed locations on the Atlantic shore. The Fair Plan covers 63,000 homeowners in that part of the state, accounting for 45% of the market, according to the Cape Cod Times (" FAIR Plan rates hold," by Sarah Shemkus). Attorney General Coakley won the state Democratic primary on December 8th and is the party's candidate to assume the Senate seat of the late Senator Edward Kennedy. That special election will take place on January 19th, with Coakley facing State Senator Scott Brown, the winner of the Republican primary. Coakley's office issued a press release on January 7 about Coakley's successful action to block the rate increase. National pundits following the special election are focused mainly on the race's potential to affect the balance of power in the U.S. Senate, where Democrats are barely clinging to the 60-to-40 majority they need to pass legislation over a Republican filibuster. But followers of coastal politics may want to keep in mind that in terms of her state's local dynamics, Coakley is likely, if elected, to be influenced at times by the views of her constituents on the windswept shores of Cape Cod, Nantucket, and the Vineyard.