Slicked and SLABBED – and just flat overwhelmed

Nowadays, the process of selecting a post topic is akin to a game of disaster roulette.  As a result, I was “slicked and slabbed” by “writer’s block” – the chief symptom of same, a growing file of drafts but no post.  Fortunately,  “writer’s block” is not contagious nor does it limit reading.  Thus, I begin my recovery with an update on issues I’ve been following:

Ivor van Heerden lost the second round of his fight to regain his position with LSU:

A federal judge scolded LSU late Thursday for not being “much more professional’’ in parting ways with Ivor van Heerden, but said the respected coastal researcher failed to show that LSU retaliated against him for openly blaming the U.S. government for the levee failures in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. District Judge James Brady’s refusal to issue a preliminary injunction in van Heerden’s lawsuit against LSU means van Heerden, who has worked at the school for more than 15 years, must clean out his office.

Van Heerden’s attorney, Jill Craft, had asked Brady to “require LSU to keep his position on the books.’’

Craft said she now will move for an expedited jury trial of van Heerden’s suit. Brady said he would entertain such a request. h/t New Orleans News Ladder

Chip Merlin’s Back on the Texas Ranch-Hurricane Litigation and Settlement Discussions are Raging brings us up to date on litigation following Hurricanes Dolly and Ike with news that “TWIA is in trouble”: Continue reading “Slicked and SLABBED – and just flat overwhelmed”

Blow back, blow out and a lot of hot air around state-funded insurance plans

Since state-funded insurance plans are a big money maker for the insurance industry and a deep money pit for the states, it will be interesting to see how this trouble in paradise plays out.

Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state’s insurer of last resort, should be abolished, the Commission on Streamlining Government said Tuesday. Our friend Jim Brown was there.

Brown called Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance “the biggest financial disaster in history. “If the old system had been in place, you and I wouldn’t be paying off a $1.5 billion bond issue” that bailed out Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance”.

What a blow back!  Meanwhile in neighboring Texas, the general manager of the the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association had a blow out: Continue reading “Blow back, blow out and a lot of hot air around state-funded insurance plans”

And the beat does go on, as in the beat down of the taxpayers and the NFIP by shady insurers

As the Houston Chronicle illustrated in their 1st anniversary of Ike coverage, not only do the taxpayers get stuck with the wind claims insurers dump on the NFIP they also get stuck for the bill for the living expenses these all perils contracts should cover but never do. As a between the lines reader stated in an email:

What this article leaves unstated is that these lengthy disputes over causation ultimately cost federal taxpayers billions of dollars unnecessarily. The federal government pays for trailers, housing vouchers, subsidized loans, tax deductions, grants, and other benefits to assist displaced residents who are engaged in legal disputes with their insurers or who have unintentional gaps in their coverage despite buying all that was recommended by their insurance agents. Meanwhile, because of the delay in the housing recovery, the federal government subsidizes local governments, schools, hospitals, and businesses for extended periods of time until the local tax and consumer base can be restored.

Gang does any of this sound familiar? One key difference is without expedited claims Texas homeowners are having to go after both the NFIP and their wind insurer to be made whole on the coverage they were sold that in theory should fully cover their losses but rarely does without having to sue.

Life in a trailer in his driveway is a daily reminder of Hurricane Ike for Michael Amoroso.

After waiting months for a response from the National Flood Insurance Program, he was declined a bigger payment that he had hoped to use to rebuild.

For Amoroso and other homeowners like him, the storm did more than damage their property. The unrepaired houses and pending insurance claims are a daily test of their will.

“For months they didn’t even return my phone calls or e-mails,” said Amoroso, who plans to sue for more funds. “I am so fed up.” Continue reading “And the beat does go on, as in the beat down of the taxpayers and the NFIP by shady insurers”

Merlin: The parable of Hurricane Ike insurance claims!

and the moral of this story is…

My good buddy, Tom Grail, told me the parable of Hurricane Ike Insurance Claims. To appreciate this, one must first understand that the total loss structures in Galveston and Bolivar receive uniform estimates of wind damage from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA). The amount of damage caused by wind for nearly every structure is approximately 11%. The reports are virtually identical for every total loss structure, despite differences in the age of the structure and quality of construction.

The parable is a story of two men, Larry and Moe, who were on the peninsula when Ike hit. Larry was struck by a flying 2X4 launched by the wind, then, when the surge came, he grasped a floating timber and made it to safety. He was treated for his injuries, estimated at 11% of his being.

Moe was not so lucky. He was killed instantly by a flying TV set. The storm surge subsequently swept his body away.

The medical examiner compared Moe’s corpse to Larry. After taking several months to consider the situation, the examiner declared that Moe was only 11% killed by wind, because that’s what happened to Larry. He opined that 89% of Moe’s death must have been due to flooding.

Merlin goes on to add: Continue reading “Merlin: The parable of Hurricane Ike insurance claims!”

Hurricane damage claims score before start of today’s Bills v Patriots game

A windstorm playing in today’s game between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots provides data on wind damage at various speeds without any associated hurricane bias.

Winds gusting up to 75 mph tore a strip off the Bills’ practice fieldhouse and tilted both goal posts inside Ralph Wilson Stadium prior to Buffalo’s game against the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Though the blustery conditions aren’t expected to delay the start of the 1 p.m. game, work crews used ropes and a forklift to re-secure and re-center the goal posts, which shook heavily in the wind.

Very strong gusts occurred at about 8:30 a.m., when they tore a strip 2 feet wide and more than 50 feet long off the metal roof of the 12-story fieldhouse across the parking lot from the stadium. There was damage reported inside the facility, but no one was injured. Pregame events inside the fieldhouse were canceled.

The winds also tore off part of a goal post on the Bills’ outdoor practice field next to the fieldhouse…

(emphasis added)

Advocates for putting the Saffir-Simpson Scale to rest will, no doubt, find more reliable data from windstorm damage reports – mindful, of course, that scientifically speaking, windstorms are wind-only winter-weather events.

A recent article in the Houston Chronicle noted support by some scientists to replace the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale with other more accurate measures of hurricane destructiveness. It is about time. Continue reading “Hurricane damage claims score before start of today’s Bills v Patriots game”

Texas talking – the latest from both sides of its mouth

Given the talk from Texas, I’m wondering when the Texas Insurance Department will issue one of its consumer protection policy bulletins on the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association – but, before I go there, let’s start with this incredible post-Ike insurance story from Chip Merlin.

My new client was born and raised in Houston. He started his own company ten years ago after working in construction for 25 years.  His roof was damaged and water entered the attic causing damage to the insulation and then more damage as the water dripped down into the rest of the structure.

However, the insurance adjuster found that the windows leaked and allowed for the water damage.  That cause of loss would be excluded under my clients commercial policy.  After a fist fight almost ensued between my client and the adjuster, the adjuster agreed to hire an engineering firm.  Texas Wind hired a well known insurance engineering vendor and sure enough, that engineer somehow opined that lower floor windows had water leaked and water defied gravity, finding its way into the attic. Is such a finding a “reasonable” basis?  Doubtful. (emphasis mine)

Situations such as that are so insulting as anyone with modest intelligence can tell it’s a total crock of you-know-what – and a Texas-sized one at that.  What I want to know is how  engineers that put out the crap can hold a license and the same goes for the insurers that accept their reports.  It’s way past time for the licensing issue to be addressed IMO.

Merlin doesn’t raise the licensing issue per se; but, I imagine he’s given it some thought as he’s got ample cause; and, no doubt, knows a lot more stories that, thus far, he’s not telling. Continue reading “Texas talking – the latest from both sides of its mouth”