Gerald Nielsen, the NFIP Katrina and Sandy claims handling topical again here on Slabbed

The chickens are coming home to roost:

FEMA Sets Up Review Process for Sandy Flood Claims ~ Insurance Journal

In light of recent allegations that some insurers in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) may have denied or rejected Superstorm Sandy flood damage claims based on falsified reports, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is now prepared to reopen “every flood insurance claim” filed by Sandy victims, officials announced.

You don’t say. Meantime last night a new commenter stopped in on an old insurance post sharing some information that is worth highlighting:

As someone in the industry who has represented liberty mutual on dozens of their cases it is with certainty that I can say they are the worst slimeballs in the industry second only to State Farm. I have heard their newbie adjusters tell elderly insureds they did not have a claim despite having lost their teeth and fractures to their jaws from slipping on wet floors that had been mopped in dark rooms. I have seen them deny claims that were clearly covered. I have seen them justify and defend cheating beneficiaries of their benefits and I have seen them cheat their own employees.

State Farm just had another reorg and guess who got cut. All of the employees from Mississippi who had to defend Eds Russ and Lecky’s decisions to cheat policyholders. That is how they rewarded their loyal senior staff. It was sad that the local adjusters managers and agents got the shaft for Ed and lecky’s unscrupulous behavior.

Additional vital background can be found here and more recently here.

Jim Hood needs a whistleblower on BP claims: A politician running for re-election update.

The subject of the BP claims process is one that has been well blogged upon in this area though not necessarily here on Slabbed despite the natural fit given our origins as a blog devoted to the insurance claims process.  Our silence here is due to the fact that I think it is too early to make a call on whether the process is fair overall. On one hand certain elder statesmen type former politicians such as former Mississippi Gov William Winter think the process is fair and that Ken Feinberg’s heart is in the right place. OTOH several of my blogging brethren and Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood think Feinberg is a sorry piece of crap from Wall Street.  For his part Jim Hood is fanning the anti-Feinberg flames in his most recent call for a whistleblower to step forward so he can nail Feinberg.

He did such a shitty job shielding the whistleblowing Rigsby sisters from State Farm I guess he wants a second crack.

For my part my mind is still open to information on this topic.  One of my sources of information is from the professional claims adjusting community in Debbie at Dimechimes, who can be found on our blogroll. She is tracking some of the litigation involving BP, Worley etc and is back in the game after taking a short break from blogging. Continue reading “Jim Hood needs a whistleblower on BP claims: A politician running for re-election update.”

While Jimbo the Clown and his sidekick Mikey the Cook are MIA, BP claims go unpaid.

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney

Donelon said that members of his staff have investigated some BP-related claims centers throughout Louisiana.

“We have done some visits to claims centers and found them to be operating smoothly, but that is not all of the claims centers and I do not know how many adjusters there are.” he said.

Donelon said his department has become skilled at knowing when claims are mishandled given the department’s experience of settling claims related to hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

“We had a million claims in connection with Rita and Katrina five years ago, so yeah, we do know when things are not being handled as they should be, I believe, and we are knowledgeable and experienced and staffed enough to monitor this situation from an insurance regulatory perspective, no doubt,” he said.

Meantime this is what Mike Chaney had to say about the BP claims process:


This is from David Hammer’s report in today’s Times Picayune on the tar balls in Lake Pontchartrain:

BP’s payments to spill victims — those injured physically or economically by the oil — have not kept pace with what it has spent on containment, according to newly released data. The British oil giant agreed recently to release spreadsheets detailing its claims Continue reading “While Jimbo the Clown and his sidekick Mikey the Cook are MIA, BP claims go unpaid.”

Still got some popcorn? Grab a chair and watch State Farm's training video – "Which Was It…Wind or Water?"

In Flores et al v State Farm, “The initial focus of the punitive liability of State Farm is on its adjuster Heather Keyt… One specific educational source that was identified by Ms. Keyt was an instructional video on “how to tell the difference” in causation questions over wind versus water”.

State Farm has not produced that video under an assertion of some proprietary argument. That video is not under seal, but was disclosed in the case of Watkins v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., #CJ- 2000-303, Grady County Court (Ok. 2007), and is entitled “Which Was It … Wind or Water?”

In…[Part 1 @ 7:05 of the three-part]…”video the instructor suggests as a general rule that to determine the cause as either wind or water, “go across the street, lean against your car look, at the building, and ask yourself, which was it wind or water?”

This general suggestion is consistent with the testimony of Ms. Keyt, and it forms the framework for the inspection that was conducted by State Farm’s adjuster.


The Flores’ plaintiffs “Response Brief in Opposition to [State Farm’s] Motion for Summary Judgment” is more than just pictures worth a thousand words.  The discussion of related Mississippi case law on Good Faith and Fair Dealing and the Summary Judgment Standard applied to Punitive and/or Extra-Contractual Damages is thorough: Continue reading “Still got some popcorn? Grab a chair and watch State Farm's training video – "Which Was It…Wind or Water?"”

BREAKING: Corban v USAA settles

Anita Lee has all the scoop as the wind water debate rages in the commentary to her story. I suspect, given the related Mississippi Supreme Court decision, USAA paid up big. (Our exhaustive coverage of Corban can be found by clicking here.) Sadly for the public, we will not get to see Mr Haney lose another big case for USAA like Lisanby. Congratulations to the Corbans and their legal team of Judy Guice, Buddy Gunn, Flip Phillips and Chris Van Cleave. Rather than quote the news story lets visit with Anita’s blog for her take on the news:

The landmark Katrina case, Corban vs. USAA, has settled on the usual “undisclosed terms.”

The case established that wind damage is covered even if water contributes to the loss, a fact insurance companies tried to fight after Hurricane Katrina.

The Mississippi Supreme Court decision came in October 2009, far too late to help countless policyholders who settled under an erroneous federal ruling that came down much earlier.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could have certified the question to Mississippi’s Supreme Court, which has say over state-governed insurance contracts, but chose not to.

The federal legal system, in fact, has let down policyholders in more ways than one. Magistrate Judge Robert Walker in particular Continue reading “BREAKING: Corban v USAA settles”

getting a few words edgewise – cats, claims standards, levees, mitigation, perils, profits, providence, termites, and others that come to mind

As one might guess, the title of this post was inspired by my bulging drafts file and the incredible interest in Sop’s coverage of what first appeared a simple case of insurance lagniappe in Jefferson Parish.

First up, a collection of news stories that remind us risk is not limited to the states on the Gulf Coast.

Feb. Snow Storms Designated CATS, Insured Loss Exceeds $2 B

Two snow storms that hit the United States this month will cause insured damages in excess of $2 billion, according to a catastrophe risk modeling firm…Meanwhile, Gary Kerney, assistant vice president of  Property Claim Services, a unit of Insurance Services Office in Jersey City, N.J., said he expects PCS to have loss estimates for the storms sometime next week. He said PCS is classifying both storms as catastrophes, meaning each storm should have insured losses in excess of $25 million.

"Insurer Zurich noted that snow has been present in 49 of 50 states in the past week, and some states not used to facing this risk could be exposed to losses."

AIR Worldwide issued a statement on Feb. 10…noting that business interruption is likely to be another major driver of insured losses. Regarding roof collapse claims, Tim Doggett, principal scientist, AIR, said the combined storms could cause havoc for roofs, particularly light metal, long span, low slope and flat roofs.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, winter storms are the third-largest cause of catastrophe losses, behind hurricanes and tornadoes, and result in about $1 billion in insured losses each year. I.I.I. said winter storms resulted in more than $7 billion in insured losses from 1999-2008.

Well, &#*% happens, snow melts, and levees may fail to provide protection from flooding.

New data released by Levees.Org shows that the majority of U.S. population lives in counties protected by levees, and that those counties are wealthier.

While the hurricane barrier protecting Providence, Rhode Island isn’t what we traditionally think of a levee, the folks there came up with a plan to save millions without giving up their protection – Feds take over hurricane barrier; Title handed to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

Providence officials estimate the transfer will save the city $500,000 annually and millions more in upkeep over the course of the coming years…In addition [to the legislation authorizing the transfer], [U.S. Senator Jack] Reed helped secure $4 million in federal funding for the Corps to make repairs to the barrier’s pumping system and has arranged nearly $1 million to operate the barrier over the last two years.

Mississippi may not be the only place termites cause problems for homeowner attempting to meet higher elevation requirements and Continue reading “getting a few words edgewise – cats, claims standards, levees, mitigation, perils, profits, providence, termites, and others that come to mind”

Sam if it is a fight you want bring it on. Disconnect remains on display at the National Underwriter.

Of all the other blogs that we’ve linked, National Underwriter Editor in Chief Sam Friedman’s blog certainly resides in our top 5 for mentions here at Slabbed.  We link Sam because of many of his insights are keen and because we respect his sincerity. I’m also certain Sam does not know what to make of this blogger, a hard hat CPA from the Mississippi Gulf Coast with a penchant for delivering hard-hitting comments.  They must hurt to the core as Sam can’t bring himself to publish some of my missives even though they were non profane and directly salient to his blog topics.

Last July I took Sam to the woodshed here on Slabbed despite the respect we accord him and his trade journal but it was equally clear from his comment on my post he simply doesn’t get it. Of course I didn’t have to email Sam that post as the National Underwriter is a frequent guest here at the Do Slabb Inn along with every major insurer and investment bank in this country as we’ve dutifully detailed the systemic corruption of Wall Street and follow the money to their pet politicians and regulators.

Sam is still at it as he has morphed from journalist to cheerleader. I don’t know if Sam views himself as that mythical insurance adjusting teevee superhero he pumps but I do know if he is spoiling for a PR fight he doesn’t have to look very hard to find an opponent that is not incentivized in the system.

We don’t have hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on shills like Robert Hartwig or trade groups with oval office connections. And I can’t imagine  that the average editorial board at the local newspaper would see me or Nowdy on a walk in basis to hear us speak about an esoteric topic such as insurance finance. Such access is reserved for folks like Hartwig. But we have something none of the shills possess and it is called the truth. In today’s day and information age it is indeed a mighty sword. Continue reading “Sam if it is a fight you want bring it on. Disconnect remains on display at the National Underwriter.”

Breaking News! Jury decides for Bossier – Phase II starts Thursday! UPDATED

Minute Entry for proceedings held before District Judge L. T. Senter, Jr: Jury Trial held on 11/10/2009: PHASE I COMPLETED, JURY VERDICT returned in favor of Plaintiff; Court ruled State Farm had no arguable reason for delinquency, therefore, PHASE II of JURY TRIAL TO BEGIN 11/12/09, at 1:00 P.M.; COUNSEL to reconvene in Chambers, 11/12/09, at 10:00 A.M.

I’ve been Sop’s blog partner almost two years now; and, Bossier v State Farm is one of the few cases the first case I’ve covered that has come close to trial.  In fact, the only trial other than Bossier that I recall at the moment is Lisanby v USAA.

The jury’s decision is sealed; but the minute entry tells us a jury of peers heard the evidence and decided in Bossier’s favor and Judge Senter’s ruling – no arguable reason for delinquency – set the stage for Phase II.

Congratulations to the Bossiers and to their attorney and tireless advocate, Judy Guice! Continue reading “Breaking News! Jury decides for Bossier – Phase II starts Thursday! UPDATED”

A Corporate Predator

The Rigsbys’ qui tam claims are now set for trial. State Farm’s favorite strong arm tactic – a slap suit aimed back at the relators as a counterclaim – has been mooted by severance, with all discovery stayed. In a word, the Rigsbys’ qui tam case is now early stage radioactive. For those of you who care to study the pathology of corporate monopolies, now is the time to tune in, lock your dial and follow State Farm’s every move.

You’ll likely see State Farm agents turn up in hometown newspaper photos, handing a giant copy of State Farm’s check to the fire chief, buying the police department some pricey crime fighting device, or donating education funds to the local school board. As trial approaches, the number and frequency of “Good Neighbor” TV ads in the broadcast markets of the jury venire will double. Typically, these ads falsely portray State Farm as a deeply caring protector of America’s families. You’ll see lots of minority face time, puppy dogs, tearful then happy children and so on. Not much different than the “family values” theme some of our best pimp politicians like to market. That’s what you will see; what’s more important is what you won’t see.

You won’t see the “Shred-it” trucks pulling up to State Farm’s and Renfroe’s lawyers’ offices. (They needn’t go to State Farm’s regional or headquarter offices, they have their own shredders and corporate employee operators. In fact, State Farm shredded copies of altered engineering reports and corresponding invoices right there in their temporary Katrina claims office off Pops Ferry Road). Also, you won’t see State Farm’s creepy data managers systematically scrubbing data off the head office’s mainframes and hundreds of work stations. You won’t see this same thing happening behind the walls of State Farm’s and Renfroe’s lawyer’s offices either, or even within the offices of the federal court in Birmingham. You won’t see crooked law clerks scurrying to isolate and delete phone logs or emails proving hundreds of unauthorized ex parte contacts with State Farm’s and Renfroe’s case lawyers. You won’t see the destruction of records detailing communications with FEMA’s David Maurstad or James Shortly, or with FEMA’s shadow manager, Computer Science Corporation (“CSC”), all to get the proof of loss requirements under the flood program waived, and in place within 48 hours of Katrina. Continue reading “A Corporate Predator”