The Sun Herald joins Slabbed in calling out State Senate Insurance Committee Chair Eugene “Buck” Clarke

Yep they did. I’ll add Lieutenant Gov. Phil Bryant put him there. Follow the money guys.

When Victor Hugo said that “there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come,” he obviously did not have the Mississippi Legislature in mind.

Among some legislators, especially committee chairmen, ideas are not nearly as powerful as politics.

This session’s prime example of that is Eugene S. “Buck” Clarke, the chairman of the insurance committee in the state Senate. Continue reading “The Sun Herald joins Slabbed in calling out State Senate Insurance Committee Chair Eugene “Buck” Clarke”

Anita Lee fires up da Grilletta: In Mississippi “the deck is stacked against the policyholder”. Bill of Rights Anyone?

Things get a tad busy this time of year and the lack of blogging time on mine and Nowdy’s part means there is insurance news we don’t cover. Fortunately our friend Sup brought up the policyholder bill of rights, a story I’ve been following but which fell on my B list because of severe time constraints. A story we have been following and in fact broke right here on Slabbed was the recent Grilletta decision at the 5th Circuit which was a major victory for policyholders. Thanks to Anita Lee I get to maximize my time and kill two birds with one stone as the legal points that gave policyholders protections against being jerked around by a bad faith insurer in Louisiana do not exist in Mississippi. Before I link the salient source docs in our archives let’s begin with Ms Lee’s excellent story on Grilletta:

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed a victory to Louisiana policyholders this week in a Katrina insurance case, but the ruling won’t benefit Mississippians because the state lacks a law requiring timely payment of claims.

In the Louisiana case of Grilletta v. Lexington Insurance Co., a trial judge levied a penalty equal to 25 percent of the undisputed amount paid for wind damage because the company failed to act on the claim within 30 days of receiving proof of the loss. In fact, the appellate ruling said, “Lexington arbitrarily sat on the claim for over two months” after an adjuster concluded wind had destroyed the house. Lexington then hired an engineering firm that blamed the loss on storm surge, excluded from coverage. The April 2006 report also noted wind damage.

In June 2006, Lexington sent the policyholder a $311,055.38 check for the wind damage.

A trial judge levied a 25 percent penalty on that amount for the arbitrary late payment. The judge rejected penalties for the additional amount awarded at trial, $248,325.42, reasoning there was a legitimate coverage dispute.

The appellate court ordered the judge to assess the 25 percent penalty on coverage awarded at trial, saying failure to make timely payment on a covered claim exposes the insurer to penalties on the entire claim.

Mississippians, hundreds of whom waited more than two years for Katrina payments, lack similar protection and are unlikely to get it from the current Legislature, say policyholder attorneys and state Sen. David Baria. Baria is sponsoring a bill that mandates timely payment of claims.

“I believe that would get the insurance companies’ attention as far as treating policyholders more fairly,” said attorney Ben Galloway of Owen Galloway & Myers in Gulfport. “Right now, the deck is stacked against the policyholder. We’ve seen it over and over in Katrina litigation.

“There’s really not much incentive for insurance companies to be fair with insureds on a claim.” Continue reading “Anita Lee fires up da Grilletta: In Mississippi “the deck is stacked against the policyholder”. Bill of Rights Anyone?”

State Senator David Baria on the House Insurance Committee’s Visit to the Coast

Senator Baria serves in the minority on the GOP controled Senate Insurance Committee which has blocked every meaningful consumer friendly piece of legislation passed by the State House. I do not share his more optimistic spin on last Tuesday’s public gathering but I also do not question his commitment to his constituents in senate district 46. He wrote a good account of the gathering in his blog and evidently, in the spirit of bipartisanship, left out Commissioner Chaney’s pollyanna advice for coast consumers to shop around in the wind market of 1. For my part I wonder of the Sun Herald still feels good about endorsing Mr Chaney last year. Something tells me they are getting a case of heartburn.

The Insurance Committee of the Mississippi House of Representatives held a public forum in Biloxi last night. The event was well attended by Coast citizens and other interested individuals, including representatives of the insurance industry. Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney was among the invited speakers as was his Deputy Lee Harrell. It became clear very early into the forum that the majority of the residents in attendance were still having major problems with the acquisition of affordable insurance. There were also many individuals with disturbing stories of how their insurance company treated them in denying their claims. We have all either experienced something similar or have a friend or family member who has. It is nothing new to hear these stories. However, I was impressed with the passion with which they were told three years post-Katrina. Obviously, the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast are still hurting from not only the worst natural disaster to ever affect the U.S., but also from the insurance industry’s callous indifference in the months and years following Katrina. Add to the emotional mix the fact that insurance outside of the wind pool is virtually unattainable for us and is seldom affordable when it can be found, and you have a miserable recipe for the people of the Gulf Coast. Continue reading “State Senator David Baria on the House Insurance Committee’s Visit to the Coast”

State Senator David Baria on the House Insurance Committee's Visit to the Coast

Senator Baria serves in the minority on the GOP controled Senate Insurance Committee which has blocked every meaningful consumer friendly piece of legislation passed by the State House. I do not share his more optimistic spin on last Tuesday’s public gathering but I also do not question his commitment to his constituents in senate district 46. He wrote a good account of the gathering in his blog and evidently, in the spirit of bipartisanship, left out Commissioner Chaney’s pollyanna advice for coast consumers to shop around in the wind market of 1. For my part I wonder of the Sun Herald still feels good about endorsing Mr Chaney last year. Something tells me they are getting a case of heartburn.

The Insurance Committee of the Mississippi House of Representatives held a public forum in Biloxi last night. The event was well attended by Coast citizens and other interested individuals, including representatives of the insurance industry. Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney was among the invited speakers as was his Deputy Lee Harrell. It became clear very early into the forum that the majority of the residents in attendance were still having major problems with the acquisition of affordable insurance. There were also many individuals with disturbing stories of how their insurance company treated them in denying their claims. We have all either experienced something similar or have a friend or family member who has. It is nothing new to hear these stories. However, I was impressed with the passion with which they were told three years post-Katrina. Obviously, the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast are still hurting from not only the worst natural disaster to ever affect the U.S., but also from the insurance industry’s callous indifference in the months and years following Katrina. Add to the emotional mix the fact that insurance outside of the wind pool is virtually unattainable for us and is seldom affordable when it can be found, and you have a miserable recipe for the people of the Gulf Coast. Continue reading “State Senator David Baria on the House Insurance Committee's Visit to the Coast”

State Senate GOP Blocks House Insurance Measures

“What you risk reveals what you value.” Jeanette Winterson

I’m reminded of that quote when I think of Republican Senator Eugene “Buck” Clarke, chair of the Senate Insurance Committee who just last month proclaimed his ignorance of the interplay of insurance issues with existing state law and used that lack of knowledge to kill every Katrina related reform introduced in the State Senate. The reported party line as recounted multiple times in the Clarion Ledger was something along the lines of:

But his legislation languished in the Insurance Committee chaired by Sen. Eugene Clarke, R-Hollandale, before dying under a deadline.

Rather than bring the bills out of committee and up for debate before the full Senate, Clarke said he wanted more time to study the issue. This is his first committee chairmanship. He’s starting his second term as senator. Continue reading “State Senate GOP Blocks House Insurance Measures”

The Mississippi “R” Factor Part 1

We have more insurance news out most of it involving the State of Mississippi. As I noted yesterday the contrast between Commissioner McCarty and the Republican Party in Florida and Commissioner Chaney and the Republican leadership in Mississippi is striking and very unfavorable to our leadership here. Today we are greeted with this news story in the Sun Herald on the Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association: Continue reading “The Mississippi “R” Factor Part 1″