Jeff Amy covered both bases with similar stories in both the Pascagoula and Mobile editions of the Press Register. Alabama homeowners, according to Army’s story, have gone from paying 10 percent less than the national average in 2002 to 10 percent more in 2007.
“Satisfied is probably not the right word, but we’re comfortable with where we are compared to the other coastal states,” said Alabama Insurance Commissioner Jim Ridling.
Of course he’s comfortable, look at what happened to the homeowners next door in Mississippi – the State went from paying 13 percent more than the national average in 2002 to paying 24 percent more in 2007.
Mississippi’s not so comfortable Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney told Amy “Rates are going to continue to go up in Mississippi.”
He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! Maybe everyday doesn’t have to be Christmas for insurers who want higher rates for the shore. Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means zones are no more!
They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming! They’re just waking up, I know just what they’ll do. Their mouths will hang open a minute or two, then the Whos down in Whoville will all cry, “Boo Hoo.”
We weren’t disappointed in Mr Chaney’s latest one bit here at Slabbed mainly because we knew what our favorite captured insurance regulator would be doing with this latest Farm rate up. The comments in yesterday’s story and today’s Op-Ed about Mr Chaney being a puppet for big insurance pretty much sums up local popular opinion:
You tell your boss you want a 45 percent raise, but you are unwilling to do any extra work to get it. Your boss, fearing the loss of your services, manages to scrape up enough money to offer you a 19.5 percent pay increase and begs you to stay. You take the 19.5, but you make it clear that you are “disappointed” and will do less work.
Not if you are an insurance company doing business in Mississippi.
Beginning in mid-February, State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. has Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney’s permission to raise homeowner insurance rates 19.5 percent in the three Coast counties. State Farm had asked for a 45 percent rate increase and said it was “disappointed” not to get it.
Long Beach resident Kevin Buckel and United Policyholders executive director Amy Bach to be specific. Kevin’s website details his thus far fruitless pursuit of a statutory Policyholder Bill of Rights for Mississippians. It has been blocked in committee in the Senate by Sen. Eugene “Buck” Clarke, a GOP free market true believer over at the Big Rock Candy Mountain in Jackson.
We’ve also chronicaled Mr Buckel’s efforts at fostering transparency at the Mississippi Department of Insurance as he has taken our current Commish to court after the claims files used in the sham Market Conduct Study began under Mr Chaney’s predecessor turned insurance lobbyist George Dale as overseen by former Deputy Commish Lee Harrell who now works for State Farm law firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz. Mr Chaney has thus far successfully stonewalled those efforts. Anita Lee picks up more recent events here:
A Coast policyholder is appealing to the state Supreme Court for access to Mississippi Insurance Department records that would show the dollar amount of Katrina claims denied by insurance companies.
Long Beach policyholder Kevin Buckel filed a written request in January 2009 for records showing the total amount of damages homeowners claimed, the total amount paid and the total amount denied by private property insurance companies. MID maintains the agency does not have the records.
We’ll talk State Farm in a minute. It’s a small pleasure to me that readers of Slabbed can tell you in a single sentence why we’re being devoured by insurance companies – they operate regional monopolies, and keep them going by purchasing judges, legislative bodies, and regulators who could take away the anti-trust exemptions. Coached by people like McKinsey & Co., we know how big insurers follow a scripted Machiavellian model:
risk transference is sales pretext only;
the objective is profits;
claims threaten profits;
policyholder dollars go to defeat, not pay claims;
↑ premiums + ↓ scope of coverage = ↑ profits.
America is being eaten from within. Wall Street pigged-out and bankrupted our treasury. Health insurance pigged-out and drove consumers to go uninsured and file bankruptcy in record numbers (62% of all). Banks pigged-out and destroyed home values and credit markets, and auto makers cowboyed a world class manufacturing business into oblivion. On the legal side, so-called “pro business” types – mere bribe payers to me – replaced the jury system with forced arbitration, repealed punitive damage law and bought off the appeals courts. If our Constitution was a car note, I’d say we’re “upside down.”
I’ll have in depth analysis in another post. Let’s begin with Anita Lee and her front page story in today’s Sun Herald where Mike Chaney the tap dancing politician is long on rhetoric as he prepares coastal policyholders for the shaft:
The focus at State Farm headquarters in Bloomington, Ill., is on the bottom line, not consumers, Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said after receiving the insurance company’s request for an average 45 percent rate increase on existing business on the Coast.
“The more I’m around these folks, the more I worry about them,” Chaney said Friday. “They don’t have a heart. The corporation as a body has no compassion for the consumer.”
There have been a good number of news tidbits that do not necessarily constitute a post here on Slabbed on their own but when taken together tie up several loose ends and lend context to a story that does merit it’s own post in Mike Chaney’s recent insurance forum held last Thursday and Friday here on the coast. So let’s backtrack a week and shake us up slabbed insurance cocktail by beginning with Anita Lee’s coverage of day 2:
Gov. Haley Barbour joined the coastal insurance debate Friday, telling an audience he believes regional compacts would be the best way to regulate wind coverage in coastal zones from Texas to Maine.
Barbour introduced The Travelers Insurance Cos. president, Brian MacLean, to explain the company’s proposal for improving the coast insurance market. Insurers have pulled back from coastlines in recent years, leaving state-run wind pools to fill the void.
Wind pools were intended as insurers of last resort, but their market shares have grown to levels that experts agree are unsustainable. Insurance works by spreading risk, not concentrating it.
Haley has been conspicuously absent from the insurance scene refusing to comment on the litigation while offering cheap lip service to Gene Taylor’s multi peril bill. I suspect he and the State GOP has been searching for a way to throw a bone to the people on the coast that helped elect him while working hard to preserve GOP big business bonafides with the campaign money machine that is big insurance. Continue reading “Slabbed Daily July 22-24. Lets tie a few things together”
Far from the claims handling equivalent of this literary masterpiece, the case of Kuehn v State Farm has more twists, turns and legal perversions than Anaïs Nin’s book on the writing of that literary masterpiece. We’ve presented this case on Slabbed in part to highlight the bad faith methods State Farm, with the help of the Mississippi Department of Insurance, utilized to adjust their slab claims on the coast after Katrina. Kuehn was also of interest because it gave us a chance to also highlight the type of lawyer State Farm uses to abuse the process in the proverbial “hired gun lawyer” in this case Oxford Mississippi based lawyers Scot Spragins and Lucky Tucker. On Monday of this week Nowdy profiled the fine mess the dufuses found themselves in after the plaintiff’s lawyer Earl Denham made them his beetch. Anita Lee covered the evidentiary hearing and frankly it doesn’t look good for Spragins or Tucker as State Farm had to take one for the team to save their hides (from being DQ’d as counsel) in the process laying bare their sleazy claims practices and the type of lawyer that will do anything (and I mean anything) to get on State Farm’s legal gravy train.
State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. argued in federal court Wednesday that the company should not have to pay policyholders $174,811.80 for Katrina damage attributed to wind because an umpire and two appraisers who set the amount strayed into determining the cause of loss.
State Farm policies give policyholders the option of appraisal when “the amount of the loss” is in dispute. Under Mississippi law, U.S. District Court Judge L.T. Senter Jr. has already ruled, appraisal is not meant to decide liability. State Farm polices cover wind damage, but loss from water is covered by federal flood insurance.
However, attorneys for policyholders Henry and June Kuehn of Ocean Springs presented evidence that only wind damage was considered during the appraisal process.
As provided under the policy, each side selected an appraiser and an umpire was appointed to resolve any disputes.
State Farm’s appraiser, John Minor, testified that only those damages above the water line were included in the appraisal award. The water line reached 2 feet onto the second floor of the Kuehn home.
Minor said a State Farm attorney who had offered confusing advice during the appraisal process was not happy with the result.
I see the coast is still being punished by the Farm and their boy Mike Chaney. I don’t think I’ll ever insure another home with a company that employs exclusive agents and highly recommend Chip Merlin’s post that Nowdy highlighted today on getting exactly what you pay for. Anita Lee has the story for the Sun Herald:
State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. will begin writing new business again in Mississippi, spokesman David Majors said Tuesday, but not in the lower three Coast counties.