The Mississippi “R” Factor Part 2

I’ve noticed that when solutions to this insurance mess are offered it is one political party that is doing the offering. Outside of a few Democrats like US Senator Christopher Dodd the Republican party is the overwhelming choice for discriminating big business and insurance political donors.

Such must certainly be the case here in Mississippi as we found this Clarion-Ledger story concerning Phil Bryant’s State Senate Insurance Committee most disturbing. Lt. Governor’s Bryant stated campaign goal of continuing the coastal rebuilding efforts certainly are taking a back seat to his service to monied insurance interests. Continue reading “The Mississippi “R” Factor Part 2″

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″

Nationwide on Your Side? Nope

Any company that would screw an old lady certainly has no problems messin’ with younger folks. Keep that chair pulled up as these videos illustrate why folks like Senator Chris Dodd and Richard Shelby live by “Show me the Money”. If you is common folk and got no money then you don’t count like their friends in big insurance.

Nationwide: Not on Your Side?

Pardners when this Cowboy says big insurance will go to great lengths to screw the elderly for a buck he means it! Pull up a chair and listen to this poor ole woman’s nightmare dealing with her own insurance company Nationwide Insurance. I hope insurance industry waterboys like Senators Chris Dodd and Richard Shelby are proud of themselves and their service to big insurance. Bless their hearts their mommas must not have taught them right from wrong when they was growin’ up.

Insurance Complexities: The Myth of State Farm’s Financial Insolvency and Conflicts of Interests.

I occasionally run across “fans” of Nassim Taleb, a philosopher/visionary who is changing the way people view world events. His black swan concept, which is the name sake for his latest book, is understood and often repeated as the totality of his theory when in reality it is just a small part of his body of work. Russell and I share an interest in Taleb’s work, an interest that derives from actually reading his two books rather than simply embracing the pop culture lite version repeated in the popular media.

This subject of insurance is akin to understanding Taleb and his theories; one can get a slight flavor for the concepts of subjects like wind claims dumping from the media but the nuance and complexities of the subject escape the vast majority of the popular reporting just as Taleb’s theories are revealed completely only by reading his books. Taleb’s Black Swan is an important concept but his central thesis is far more involved. Taleb’s website, named for his first book gives a better clue the larger theory he espouses.

Such is the case with the recently issued GAO report and the concepts surrounding the Continue reading “Insurance Complexities: The Myth of State Farm’s Financial Insolvency and Conflicts of Interests.”

Landrieu Legislation to Extract FEMA’s Head Out of Their Ass…..

Bill creates insurance oversight

Plan audits firms in flood program

Tuesday, February 05, 2008
By Rebecca Mowbray

On the heels of a federal report that found “an inherent conflict of interest” in having private insurance companies determine how much the government should pay on flood claims, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., plans to introduce legislation creating an ombudsman to strengthen financial oversight of the National Flood Insurance Program. Continue reading “Landrieu Legislation to Extract FEMA’s Head Out of Their Ass…..”

Another Type of Insurance Problem

One insurance suit settled, one begun

The Desmoines Register
February 7, 2008

By S.P. DINNENREGISTER BUSINESS WRITER

Another Des Moines area insurance company has run afoul of Minnesota’s attorney general over the sale of equity-indexed annuities, and now Iowa regulators say they’ll look to see whether any similar action is warranted here.Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson on Thursday accused AmerUs Group and American Investors, both business units of what is now Aviva USA, of misrepresenting terms of annuities that it sells to senior citizens. She sued them in Minnesota state court for allegedly failing to disclose key terms and conditions of equity-indexed annuities that they market.

This type of thing has been going on for some time. The 2001 downturn brought a rash of problems with oversold variable annuities (whose accumulations were tied to stock market performance). Annuities are essentially reverse life insurance once the payout stage is reached. They have their good points, but their fees are often very high.

Florida Insurance Hearings: Not Every Company is Losing Money

We noted in our continuing coverage of the Florida Senate Hearings concerning their property insurance mess that Allstate used unapproved short term weather models to make actuary decisions on the purchase of reinsurance. Those poor business decisions have caused losses for Allstate’s Florida operating company, losses they now wish to dump on Florida consumers.

Allstate has since been joined by Nationwide and Farm Bureau in admitting the use of unapproved short term models to drive reinsurance purchase decisions. Farm Bureau also admitted losses deriving from that fact.

In a refreshing change, we have a story from the Miami Herald that Florida based American Strategic Insurance testified Tuesday they used approved long term models and have profited from the better decisions that resulted from that fact.

American Strategic, a St. Petersburg company that managed to cut rates an average 11.5 percent due to the money it saved by buying a portion of its reinsurance from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.

The company also lowered rates another 9.5 percent later in the year, mostly because it paid a lower cost for additional reinsurance bought in the private market and had fewer claims and better cost controls.

”Generally speaking, apples to apples, reinsurance costs were coming down for everyone in 2007,” said CEO John Auer, who expects to see another drop this year.

Unlike many insurers, American Strategic said it is writing new homeowners policies, even some on the coast. The company has 260,000 policies, making it the third-largest insurer behind state-run Citizens and State Farm.

Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Winter Haven, questioned American Strategic’s heavy use of reinsurance to cover potential losses. He asked if it would be in financial trouble if its reinsurers, especially the state catastrophe fund, couldn’t make good on their
policies.

Auer said the company, started 10 years ago, has already lived through highs and lows in the reinsurance market, noting that reinsurers are pleased with American Strategic’s management. And A.M. Best raised American Strategic’s rating to A-minus from B++ last December.

As I opined on the Allstate Yahoo Finance Message Board, the testimony of Allstate, Hartford, Farm Bureau and Nationwide Insurance reminded me of the confessions of an accomplished three card monte dealer. They expect their customers to foot their mistakes; both the mistaken decision to purchase more reinsurance and the decision to buy expensive reinsurance at all for that matter, rather than the cheaper variety offered by the State of Florida. Is insurance the only line of business that doesn’t have to pay for their business mistakes? In the small business world where I come from there is no government backstop save bankruptcy so the concept of profit entitlement is foreign to me.

In any other line of business the shareholders, not the public would be eating these business mistakes. So while we congratulate American Strategic and their owners for their ability to profit while their competitors languish we also hope free market principles apply equally to those who make bad business decisions.

Simply put there is a point where the insurance industry needs to take ownership of their mistakes. The mess in Florida illustrates exactly why so few present day insurers would survive in a truly competitive marketplace without that anti-trust exemption they currently enjoy. Our position is that the free marketplace should reign supreme where ever possible and the culture of big insurance profit entitlement should end.

Finally the events in Florida now have me wondering if our state regulators here in Mississippi have been hoodwinked by similar tactics. Our wind pool premiums are in the stratosphere, largely due to the astronomical cost of reinsurance. Given what we have learned through the application of Sunshine to the insurance industry by the Sunshine State, I challenge Mr. Chaney to hold rate hearings for any increases in property insurance, not just those he arbitrarily deems too high. We have quickly arrived at the point where he should put the interests of the citizens of this state ahead of the profit interests of these out of state insurance companies.

sop

Florida Gets a Big Fat F

Florida gets an ‘F’ for insurance system
from the South Florida Business Journal
February 6, 2008

Florida has one of the least-effective property and casualty insurance systems in the country, a new study that gave Florida and four other states an “F” grade said.

The joint project of the Heartland Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute rated all 50 states on nine criteria, including how prominent the states’ roles are in the auto and home insurance markets, and the concentration of insurance companies writing policies in a particular state. California, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Texas joined Florida in getting an F. Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Utah and Vermont got A grades.

Florida scored at or above average in seven of the nine categories. But Florida had the worst rating in the residual homeowners category, which measures how much of the market is served by government-provided insurance. Jacksonville-based Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-run insurer of last resort, is No. 1 in statewide market share.

Florida also scored poorly in the regulatory environment category for having an outsized influence in the setting of rates.

I would love to see the formula. Florida is above average in 7 of 9 categories. But because the State Government holds a lot of the policies, they get an F. Apparently the fact that many insurers have not been interested in insuring Florida home owners does not matter. Amazing.

Texas, North Carolina, and California all have to deal with big natural disaster issues so I am assuming some form of state self insurance makes them a failure as well. Massachusetts probably banned personal property when Romney was governor in an effort to avoid paying out any insurance to anyone ever.