140619_HER07_06Michelle Kurtz

Age: 55
Hometown: Daphne
Cause: Advocacy for homeowners insurance customers

In 2006, Kurtz, a community consultant, began knocking on doors, asking homeowners what were their biggest complaints were. Overwhelmingly, the answer was the high cost of insurance. Two recent hurricanes had caused rates to spike 300-600%. Kurtz, a former missionary, facilitated public meetings through HHII — a faith-based organization — for concerned homeowners and, eventually, local politicians and insurance agents. An audience of 500 got a crash course in how the industry sets rates. Never letting up on the education of her community and legislators, Kurtz’s persistence paid off. In 2012 the Clarity Law, a public report exposing payouts of policies by zip code, passed. Kurtz continues the fight — meetings have swelled to over 1,000 — to lower premiums and bring other states on board.

Says Kurtz:

When we started, politicians patted us on the head and said, ‘Nice little housewife.’ Then they attended our meetings of 500 and saw we were not going away.”

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