Troy Downing is Montana’s State Auditor and Insurance Commissioner, and both those jobs keep him on the road throughout the state.
Downing was in Missoula on Tuesday and was able to spend an hour answering questions from KGVO listeners on Talk Back.
After describing the devastation caused by the June floods in southeastern Montana, Downing addressed the topic of keeping your home insurance updated for current replacement costs.
“When you insure your home, you’re generally re-insuring for replacement cost, not for the purchase price,” said Commissioner Downing. “So if you’ve had your home for 20 years and you spent $150,000 on it, it may cost you over $400,000 to rebuild it, and if you’re not insured for that, then you’re kind of out of luck if you have a claim.”
Downing said inflation is not just affecting gas and food, but every part of the economy including insurance costs.
“One of the concerns that I have in these kinds of inflationary times is that everything is getting more expensive,” he said. “You know, I was talking to some folks about inflation effects on auto insurance because used car values have gone up and so that makes it a more expensive thing if you lose a car, and valuing that car since the cost of repairs is going up.”
Downing also suggested the creation of a state land trust specifically to address the issues of workforce housing and child care.
“Perhaps around Bozeman or around Missoula, where we can find a section and do something similar with somebody that has a master lease and have a requirement of some part of that revenue be used for workforce housing,” he said. “Maybe you could have some part of that be for daycare because one of the problems we have is people who are trying to just get by. They’re being priced out and these businesses are having trouble hiring because workers don’t have any place that they can afford to live.”
Getting back to the issue of insurance, Downing said many Montanans are taking advantage of what he termed ‘permanent open enrollment periods’.
“Think about an open enrollment period,” he said. “It means that you don’t have to actually buy insurance until you’re sick or harmed. So let’s imagine that you’re in that permanent open enrollment period. You don’t pay insurance at all and suddenly you’re in a car wreck or need a liver transplant. You say to yourself, ‘You know what, I’m going to buy insurance today, and all of a sudden you’re covered. And then as soon as you’re well again, you cancel it, because you still have that permanent open enrollment period. That’s one of the issues that I’m really concerned about.”