US Represenative Gene Taylor on Concurrent Causation

Following is yet another clip from Gene Taylor’s town hall meeting which touches on the heart of why so many people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast feel as though they have been swindled by their insurer: The Anti Concurrent Clause. Pictured in this New York Times story from 2006 that explains the concept is Marilyn Haverty, a lady I’ve known since I was a child growing up in Waveland with her children back in the 70’s and 80’s. Miss Marilyn and people like her are the reason this blog exists.

There’s no question that the anti-concurrent clause is bad for policyholders,’’ said Adam F. Scales, an associate professor who teaches insurance law at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, in Lexington, Va. “It’s not fair because it defeats policyholders’ reasonable expectations.’

Robert Hunter, former Texas Insurance Commissioner and Director with the Consumer Federation of America contends consumers do not understand such clauses buried in the fine print of their policies. George Dale seemed to agree in an interview he gave the Sun Herald that ran back in March 2006, when he claimed ignorance that insurers would use the clause to deny coverage: (The Sun Herald link is long gone but thanks to Anita over at the Did we survive Katrina or Not? blog we have this quote from the story.)

Q: So, you might not have realized how this was going to be interpreted when it was approved?

A: Oh, I’m admitting that with just the volume of the number of type policies – and there are hundreds of them in the course of a year that comes through my rating division – there may be other things that are in policies that would have gotten approved by my department by accident.That’s just the volume of the business that they do. Let’s hope it’s a minimal number of things that were approved.

I would submit that if this nation’s *longest serving insurance commissioner and his staff of lawyers had little clue to the meaning of this language then consumers had no chance of understanding the language. In fact most down here feel such language is a scam as the reason they bought the policy in the first place was to cover the one event insurers now claim it didn’t cover, a Hurricane.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyhHP6Emgfk]

* – Mr. Dale was soundly beat in the party primary in August 2007 thus ending his term of service to the insurance industry.

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US Representative Gene Taylor on his Multi-Peril Insurance Bill HR3121

Following is an interview Gene Taylor gave WLOX TV on HR3121 and the politics involved in passing the measure out of the House of Representatives. He also addresses bogus claims the bill will place an unfair burden on the taxpayers.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mURh6q-fWVk]

The Aftermath of Katrina and the Insurance Wars – Hard Feelings Worn on a Sleeve

The insightful commentary on my Happy New Years post is the reason we are linking to Dr McFarland’s presentation at Gene Taylor’s Town hall meeting held last August in Bay St Louis. The anger from being reduced to living in a camper trailer while State Farm was opinion shopping their engineers has naturally lead to some very strong feelings among those made homeless by Katrina. It sometimes spills over into the commentary at places like the Yahoo Allstate Stock Board and the video clip below. I am more than content to let our readership gauge the depths of the anger down here both in the linked post by Coastal Cowboy and the following Youtube clip. Originally we were not going to link Dr McFarland and I am not doing so to bash the insurance industry people reading this blog. Rather it I hope it illustrates the very real frustration that has accompanied Katrina and it’s aftermath and perhaps even lead to a greater understanding of all of the perspectives among the antagonists on this issue.

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bl4Nt8qPF0E]

Tish Williams on the Impact of the Insurance Crisis on Small Business

“Small business were simply left out”, said Tish Williams, executive director of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce to the assembled congressional delegation gathered in Bay St Louis. She told story after story of long time small business owners fighting to stay open, some living off their savings so their employees could be paid. She also recounts the horror stories of businesses unable to fully insure their risks due to the high costs.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nd-fNRmElrE]

Wind Pool Board Member David Treutel on Multiperil Insurance

“We are all affected by catastrophies, even if we are not in affected areas”, explained Mississippi Windstorm Association vice chair David Treutel as the costs of reinsurance impacts all who buy insurance. Dave goes on to explain the many ways events here on the Mississippi coast have changed the insurance equation in far away places like Rhode Island and how this issue literally impacts everyone in the country.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIie1Q2kNvc]

Happy New Year from the Mississippi Gulf Coast

When I agreed to take on this project the possibility it may fail crossed my mind, after all, the sum total of our collective experience on blogger could fit in a thimble. Motivated by those who are actively working against the people on the coast getting a fair shake from their insurer we began undaunted by the long odds that we could actually interest a potential readership in this very complex issue.

While the spillover from the “insurance wars” captivates the nation we continue to stick to our knitting of educating the public on the very real problems exposed by Katrina’s wind and water over two years ago. Though we have not been burning up the proverbial commentary meter, Coastal Cowboy summed up our goal best early on, “The measure of our success will not be the amount of comments we get or the number of readers we attract, rather it is having the RIGHT folks reading us.”

By that measure our first month online is a resounding success as we’ve attracted readers from 3 foreign countries as well as from across the US. We count people from diverse places like Washington DC, Lincoln Nebraska, and Bloomington Illinois to small towns like New Albany, Mississippi among our readership. We hope to continue educating all on our perspective, that of ordinary men and women here on the coast who struggle with the costs of insurance everyday and the related local fallout from insurance companies refusing to honor their contracts on the coast post Katrina.

So we thank our readers, even those who may disagree with our viewpoint, for spending time with us this past month as we too hope the New Year brings resolution to more of the good folks of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. God Bless us all in 2008.

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“Lawyer

We end the third year since Katrina with more lawyers shoveling smoke in Mississippi than in any other state – certainly on a per capita basis, if not by actual count. The question yet to be answered is “Where’s the fire?”

Katrina left over 60,000 Mississippi families homeless. One of those happened to be the family of a man the Wall Street Journal has called the King of Torts. To those on the Coast slabbed first by Katrina and then by their insurance provider, he was known as Dickie, King of Hope

Now, he has lawyers; his son has lawyers, his associate has lawyers and there is no longer a group of lawyers known as the Scruggs Katrina Group – and all are shoving smoke blown their way by a lawyer named Balducci – reportedly working for either Scruggs or SKG – who made what can only be called a significant error in judgment by either attempting to bribe a judge or confessing to such. There’s still too much smoke to tell exactly which it was; but, under all that smoke is a case filed against Scruggs by a group of lawyers that were associated with the Katrina Group. Now they have lawyers, too.

We’ve got such a booming lawyer business going here that our Insurance Commission picked up the tab for lawyers to represent State Farm when SKG deposed a member of the Department’s staff on matters related to claims filed by State Farm policy holders. The Commissioner had to get approval to pay State Farm’s lawyers from the Attorney General who has lawyers of his own because State Farm is suing him – remember Mississippi is the Hospitality State. Come to find out, that what we got for our money was a State Farm lawyer telling the man, “Don’t answer that”.

In light of that shovel full of smoke, it’s hard to believe that State Farm has now filed a suit to make Scruggs “answer that” – at least, they’re paying their own lawyers this time. If you’re confused, don’t be ashamed. The judge got so confused he couldn’t tell whose interest Scruggs was representing. It seems like he could have asked; but, at Ground Zero, points of law and common sense can be two entirely different matters.

We don’t shovel smoke here at the Mississippi Insurance Forum. Our purpose is to blow all the smoke away and see if there’s any fire under the hot tin roof that’s smoldering down here – and that would be Tennessee Williams and not John Gresham, by the way. Stay tuned for more and Happy New Year.

George Schloegel of Hancock Bank on the Insurance Crisis in Mississippi

“The status quo of doing nothing is absolutely not acceptable”, said George Schloegel, Chairman and CEO of Hancock Bank, to the assembled members of Congress on our insurance crisis. Banks will not lend on projects that aren’t insured and the lack of insurance options on the coast has killed many otherwise economically viable projects.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fa_XJAVtnA]

Dave Dennis on Insurance

“For the average person it is fundamentally not working…” said Dave Dennis, owner of Specialty Contractors and current board member on the New Orleans Federal Reserve on the insurance market in Mississippi, specifically the Gulf Coast. This issue is not about liberal or conservative, republican or democrat as all of us here on the coast are suffering the proverbial boot to our throats applied by big insurance and their Mississippi based scallywag enablers.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CKZ-M5T66k]

Update: Today the Sun Herald ran this story on Dave Dennis and his retirement from the New Orleans Fed:

“For many people, the Federal Reserve might be a mysterious board that deals mainly with interest rates. Following Hurricane Katrina, the Fed helped South Mississippians and New Orleanians in a very concrete way. And a Coast businessman can be credited with helping make that possible.

Dave Dennis, president and CEO of Specialty Contractors & Associates Inc., in Gulfport, has served on the New Orleans branch of the Federal Reserve Board of Directors since 2001 and was appointed by the governors. He is retiring from the board when his term expires this month.

“He has been an outstanding director,” said Bob Musso, senior vice president and branch manager of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, New Orleans branch. “And he’s been an outstanding ambassador for the Federal Reserve.”

Another Great Editorial in Today’s Clarion Ledger

Here is another very well reasoned editorial from our friends at the Clarion Ledger in Jackson:

Insurance: Katrina demonstrates need for bill

Fourth District U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor says he will fight again in 2008 for a bill to add wind coverage to federal flood insurance for protection from another hurricane like Katrina.

But, if so, he’s going to have to find an ally in the Senate.

The House bill, which Taylor co-sponsored, with the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., added wind coverage to the National Flood Insurance Program. But the wind coverage provision was not included in a bill the Senate Banking Committee approved, The Associated Press reported. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., has blocked a vote by the full Senate because optional wind coverage and higher coverage limits were not included.

The Senate bill was sponsored by Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Richard Shelby, R-Ala. Taylor said he can understand Dodd’s objections because of the insurance interests headquartered in his state. “Shelby is the one I keep scratching my head over,” he said, because of his constituents in coastal Alabama.

Republican Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran supports the multiple-perils bill. He should lobby his colleagues for it. Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton had introduced a similar bill in the Senate.

Taylor’s bill had already been massaged by the House to meet potential objections. Pelosi led a 13-member congressional fact-finding mission to the Coast in August. Listening to victims at a town hall meeting in Bay St. Louis, she pledged to help, but even she acknowledged: “We’re up against a mighty force (lobbying efforts of the insurance industry).”

Pelosi helped push Taylor’s “multi-peril” Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2007 through the Financial Services Committee in July, and it went to the Senate with full House backing as HR3121. It would allow flood insurance policyholders to purchase wind insurance or as a stand-alone policy, and increases limits.

Catastrophic insurance for hurricanes remains a need for U.S. coastal areas nationwide, so it could – and should – be resurrected. Mississippi is not alone in facing higher insurance premiums, if it’s available.

As has been noted in www.clarionledger.com/forums under “Katrina-related issues,” home insurance rates are skyrocketing in all the nation’s coastal areas. The experience with Katrina on the Coast, still waiting for insurance and government promised relief, is evidence for HR3121.

As one reader wrote: “My husband and I chose to stay here, even though we lost everything we owned, because of his business. It cost everything we had and then some to build a new home, miles away from the water and insurance was still astronomical. But … if we waited for progress to be made down here, we would be dead.”

HR3121 should not be allowed to die. The very life of the Coast could be at stake.