I’ll admit it, I am some sort of weird geek that gets his kicks out of reading corporate financial filings at the Securities and Exchange Commission website. Occasionally a few disconnected events converge to make what at first blush is an unrelated post. In this case I won’t connect the disconnected events but I will give a hat tip to Editilla who linked a poorly written story in the Des Moines Iowa paper last fall regarding United Fire and Casualty Company and their continuing problem of mounting and massive losses related to Hurricane Katrina. I never composed a post on the article because it presented an uncritical parroting of a United Fire Press Release and as such was essentially free advertising. Rest assured we’ll be peeking under the hood with a bit more detail and clarity than the Gannett reporter as we again expose management misrepresentations made to investors. Simply put this company appears to be in financial trouble and is grasping both for straws and convenient scapegoats, in this case slabbing the integrity of the entire Louisiana state court system.
First we begin with the last form 10Q issued by United Fire, specifically the management discussion and analysis of the financial results (MD&A):
Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 29, 2005, causing an estimated $80 billion in damages. Over 95 percent of our policyholders in the New Orleans area suffered damage from Hurricane Katrina, with over 11,000 claims reported. Our total loss and loss settlement expenses inception to date, net of reinsurance, from Hurricane Katrina claims are $289.2 million through September 30, 2009. In the first nine months of 2009, our loss and loss settlement expenses from Hurricane Katrina litigation was $38.3 million, of which $19.0 million was incurred from an increase in our incurred but not reported (“IBNR”) reserves. The primary reason for this reserve increase is the continuing unfavorable legal environment related to insurers of Hurricane Katrina claims in Louisiana………
Conducting business under our subsidiary company, Lafayette Insurance Company, in the state of Louisiana has put us at a considerable disadvantage in regard to our Hurricane Katrina claims litigation. Because Lafayette Insurance Company is domiciled in Louisiana, we are subject to the jurisdiction of the state court system, with limited access to the federal court system. Hurricane Katrina was, and remains, the single largest catastrophe loss in our company’s history. Four years later, we continue to feel the impact of Hurricane Katrina as litigation surrounding the event progresses through the legal system.
Through time we have profiled certain litigation involving United Fire subsidiary Lafayette Insurance Company, Sher being one such case and Robert’s Fresh Market being another. My business insurer was also Lafayette and of the 7 insurance claims I filed after Katrina the only one I had trouble collecting was my business policy with Lafayette. I found out the reason for my bad experience later on as United Fire Group would admit in the Robert’s Fresh Market trial that they, “delayed and refused to make payments because of the financial stress put on that company because they didn’t purchase enough reinsurance to cover the extent of the catastrophic losses caused by Katrina.” Now this sounds suspiciously like the kind of nonsense our own Lynda would say and amazingly it evidently was said in open court in front of the Robert’s Jury. Admitting that fact to investors simply won’t do however and predictably management had a different spin on things for them. The problem for United Fire Group is that once they thoroughly trashed the integrity of the Louisiana courts they still had to deal with the reality of their own socially deviant behavior. So while pumping access to the Federal Courts as some sort of magical panacea United CEO Randy Ramlo failed to disclose the fact the largest judgement against them happened in federal district court in the Robert’s case as we continue with the United Fire Group MD&A: Continue reading “Cry me a river…..the denial river: Slabbed welcomes the sore losers at United Fire and Casualty Company”