I love it when I hear that mental “click”! I’ve been squirreling away several important news links like pieces of a jig saw puzzle trying to figure out how to make them fit and be understandable to a broader audience. This post is partially in response to the recent guest column by Eli Lehrer of the Competitive Enterprise Institute that ran in the Sun Herald last Thursday. The S/H was no doubt attracted to the piece by Mr Lehrer’s use of scare tactics including yet more premium increases for our private/industry run insurer of last resort and it is with that incredible piece of propaganda that we start:
As it girds for the busy months of hurricane season, Mississippi has plenty to worry about. Homeowner’s insurance coverage remains difficult to find and expensive for those who have it.
If that weren’t enough, some members of Congress now want to change the tax law in a way that would drive already expensive coastal Mississippi insurance premiums even higher.
The proposed new tax will impact “offshore affiliated reinsurance” — a rather esoteric product that matters a lot in Mississippi. Explaining why requires some background. To begin with, all sizeable primary insurers — companies like Allstate, Farm Bureau, Nationwide and State Farm — buy insurance of their own, reinsurance, to help cover particularly large losses and diversify their own portfolios.
Particularly in high-hurricane-risk areas like the Gulf Coast, many companies find it advantageous to buy some or all of their reinsurance from a parent or sister company that they know won’t abandon them following a major storm.
Now we slabbers well know the reinsurance examples he uses have a grain of truth to them and indeed the domestic insurers Lehrer mentions sometimes use reinsurance but generally not the high priced kind used by our windpool. Allstate, for example, reported on page 35 of their last quarterly financial statement filed with the SEC, a mere $141 million of property and casualty reinsurance premiums for Q1 2009. (Considering Allstate measures it assets in billions of dollars $141MM is a very small amount). Readers interested in greater detail on the interplay of reinsurance and catastrophe payouts should start with this link, which I featured in this post. From there we have posts on the trend to and use of insurance linked securities in lieu of traditional reinsurance treaties (and the subprime problems contained therein) here, here, here, here, and here. Not to be out done by the people in Bermuda, State Farm, among others, created their own Bermudan reinsurance subsidaries to play the tax game.
Suffice it to say Slabbed is calling bullshit on Eli Lehrer. Not only is his opinion piece propaganda of the type that would make Joseph Goebbels proud it is insulting he actually pretends to care what people here pay for wind premiums (or even know that people well off the beach pay huge amounts for wind insurance here). The CEI is working equally hard to insure HR 1264, Gene Taylor’s multiple peril bill remains DOA Continue reading “The Tangled Web Part Deux: Support your local TARP insurer and/or subsidize “the wealthy””