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      State leaders discuss coastal insurance rates

      State senators with the Banking and Insurance Committee joined the director of the South Carolina Insurance Department at Horry Georgetown Technical College on Wednesday night to discuss coastal insurance rates.

      State leaders want those along the coast, where insurance rates are perceived as being very high, to understand the resources available to them when looking for coverage.

      "This is an opportunity to let the folks of Horry County hear first hand what we in South Carolina are doing with what we can in terms of the South Carolina regulated insurance industry," said State Senator Luke Rankin.

      Ray Farmer was confirmed as the new director of the South Carolina Department of Insurance in February. "We have 28% of our insured land value on the coast, coastal property is going to be an issue, the cost of it, the availability of it is going to be an issue. Sometimes we can find less expensive insurance and sometimes we can't, but it's our job to attempt to help," he said.

      The panel also addressed the rising cost of federal flood insurance, saying there was little they could do at the state level. Senator Rankin and Farmer did express optimism that new legislation could delay the rate hikes by four years while an affordably study is done.

      There is also the possibility of South Carolina joining a lawsuit filed by Mississippi again FEMA, with the intent to delay or prevent the dramatic rate hikes.