Jim Brown: Why are Property Insurance Rates Going Up in Louisiana?

Thursday, July 17th, 2014
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Why are Property Insurance Rates Going Up in Louisiana?

What on earth is happening out there? Is a major hurricane churning in the Gulf and taking dead aim at Louisiana? Is the Mighty Mississippi on the verge of overflowing its levees and about to flood thousands of acres, driving hundreds of thousands from their homes? Something drastic must be up. After all, State Farm Insurance Company just raised its rates on Louisiana homeowners by as much as 20%.

Note that I said that State Farm raised its rates. In most states, insurance companies are subject to a pre-approval process wherein the insurance department determines if the increase is warranted, so that the property owner can be assured that the increase is both fair and necessary. But Louisiana is different. In the Bayou State, insurance companies are not required to get rate increases pre-approved. So the answer to the question of how come big insurance companies can stick it to homeowners, whether or not such an increase is justified, is simply this — they do it because they can.

Back in the days when I served as Louisiana Insurance Commissioner, I worked with Texas Commissioner Bob Hunter on a variety of insurance issues affecting our respective states. Currently, he’s the Insurance Director for the Consumer Federation of America. I called him to get his view on the dramatically rising property insurance rates in Louisiana. “Puzzling,” he said. “A real outlier. Maybe a slight increase because of inflation. But such a big increase is really questionable.”

The national insurance reporting publications indicate why property insurance rates should be going down, not up. The FPN Insurance Journal reported that natural catastrophes caused less than half the damage this year compared to the past 10 year average. USA Today reports that we are experiencing one of the quietest years for hurricanes and other national disasters in many years. The Insurance Journal reported that insurance companies nationwide have seen rate reductions in the past three years. Continue Reading…………….

Boring people may talk about the weather – but there’s nothing boring about this weather news or the financial disaster to follow!

°When the news reports a Massive storm begins trek across midwest, it’s a safe bet that the nation’s disaster assistance funds will be tapped:

As a monster storm began to bear down on the middle of the nation Tuesday, those in its frigid and dangerous path could only hope it wouldn’t live up to the hype.

The storm threatened to leave up to a third of the nation covered in a hodge-podge of brutal winter weather. Its reach was impressive: Snow and ice could fall along a 2,000-mile stretch from Colorado to Maine, tornadoes were possible in the South, and the weather was disrupting millions of people from Super Bowl travelers to schoolchildren.

Saturday here was a glorious 72° of sunshine!  The weather this storm is bringing, however, is an entirely different matter. Continue reading “Boring people may talk about the weather – but there’s nothing boring about this weather news or the financial disaster to follow!”

Ties to Insurers Could Land Mortgage Servicers in More Trouble

Hat tip Naked Capitalism links

The insurance industry just seems to get demolished by the Wall Street Bankers.

In the American Banker, by Jeff Horwitz

Evidence of abuses and self-dealing in the force-placed insurance industry suggests that there may be far larger problems in how servicers are handling distressed loans than the sloppy document recording that has been the recent focus of industry woes.

Behind banks’ servicing insurance practices lie conflicts of interest that align servicers and their insurer partners against borrowers and investors. Bank of America Corp. owns a force-placed insurance subsidiary, and most other major servicers receive commissions or reinsurance fees on the very same policies they purchase on investors’ and borrowers’ behalf. Continue reading “Ties to Insurers Could Land Mortgage Servicers in More Trouble”

A Ri$k Management sign of the times: Managing the ri$k your insurance won’t work.

Pearl River Communicty College, well outside of the flood zone, took almost 5 years to collect from their bad faith insurer.  They would represent the classic example of the type of enterprises that should have a representative in attendance. Hat tip to Rutgers Law Professor Jay Feinman, author of Delay Deny Defend and a friend to Slabbed.  Wish we could be there Jay! ~ sop

My whipped cream is weeping and I’m tearing up – the heat wave and other hot news

Record-breaking temperatures are expected to continue this week after one Mississippian died over the weekend as a result of the heat…The temperature in Jackson is expected to break 100 today and Tuesday with the heat index between 105 and 110 degrees…”The normal for this time of year is around 92 degrees…You definitely can consider this a heat wave.”

At the moment (7:23 am), the temperature here is 82° – and even hotter “under the collar”:

“It saddens me as an American that a company would stoop so low as to make a profit on the death of a soldier. Is there anything lower than that?”

“The American economy rises or falls based on whether or not the country’s very richest people believe they are being properly respected and made happy. And Politico reports that the sensitive rich people are not happy with the Obama administration…”

Brenden DeMelle and Jerry Cope report in the Huffington Post that, “a group of oil companies including BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Citgo, Chevron and other polluters are using a front group called ‘America’s Wetland Foundation’ and a Louisiana women’s group called Women of the Storm to spread the message that U.S. taxpayers should pay for the damage caused by BP to Gulf Coast wetlands, and that the reckless offshore oil industry should continue drilling for the ‘wholesale sustainability’ of the region.” Continue reading “My whipped cream is weeping and I’m tearing up – the heat wave and other hot news”

Wind damage – this time no flood!

As Sop reported, weather was the big  story here over the weekend.  Governor Barbour described the damage in his home county of Yazoo as looking “like Katrina”.  This photograph, found in the Clarion Ledger’s excellent coverage of the story, is an example of the Katrina-like damage the Governor could see from his helicopter view.

Without any doubt, a tornado is a windstorm; but, What is a Tornado? points out  common misunderstanding about these deadly storms – and the  photograph that follows, one Sop took after Katrina,  points out Governor Barbour was right when he claimed the tornado damage was a Katrina-look-alike:

The most widely-accepted definition of a tornado can be found in, among other sources, the Glossary of Meteorology…corrected in the new Glossary (Glickman 2000).

Tornado — 1. A violently rotating column of air, in contact with the ground, either pendant from a cumuliform cloud or underneath a cumuliform cloud, and often (but not always) visible as a funnel cloud.

Since it is the wind associated with the rotating air column that does the damage, it is the moving air (wind) and not the cloud that constitutes the tornado…. (Doswell, Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies; Norman, Oklahoma)

Two look-alike photographs of damage – one from each storm.  Can you guess which storm caused the damage in the photograph below the jump? Continue reading “Wind damage – this time no flood!”

Speaking of soaked:$38million added to Mississippi windpool – Coast Rep. Brandon Jones all wet waiting “for the insurance market to stabilize…”

“As we wait for the insurance market to stabilize, keeping money flowing into the wind pool is critical for thousands of Gulf Coast families and businesses.”

House Insurance Committee Vice Chair Brandon Jones, D-Pascagoula

“Wait”!  How long? What possible incentive is there “for the insurance market to stabilize” when states are willing to pick up the tab?  None.  Nada. Zero.  Just not going to happen!

Mississippi’s return on investment in the windpool since Katrina is an additional 28,000 property owners depending on the State to cover loss from wind damage to their property – 44,000 total, according to the story in today’s Sun Herald.

The state Legislature has passed a bill containing an extra $20 million for the homeowners’ insurance wind pool.

The bill has $20 million in new money for the wind pool from a disaster-reserve fund, plus $18 million to finish previous legislative commitments to the program.

After Hurricane Katrina, many homeowners were unable to get coverage from the private insurers. For them, the state-backed wind pool insurance program was the only option.

Where is the “insurance market” Representative Jones thinks will “stabilize”?  It is certainly not in the six coastal counties covered by the “state-backed wind pool insurance program”.

a hurricane is a thunderstorm without thunder and a Farmer’s Market without farmers is a…

“You’re never too old to learn” was just something to say until I began blogging with Sop and learned more about the weather than my not- exactly- young self thought possible.  On my father’s side, mine was a family of generations of farmers with weather their measure of time – time to sow and time to reap, too cold to plant, too hot to harvest when the sun was up.  Yet, I am also my mother’s beach-loving daughter who measures time by the opening of the local farmer’s market – or did before yesterday when I discovered mine had become a craft show!

Readers in the “bold new city” that is Mississippi’s capital know the insurance controversy that followed Katrina pales when compared to the one that followed the State’s decision to move the Farmer’s Market.  While the fight on the Coast is over the quality of policy coverage, the battle over the relocation of the Farmer’s Market was fought over the quality of produce, assuming, I suppose, one eats handmade soap that looks like a slice of fudge.

Nonetheless, the two controversies find common ground in their impact on quality of life – and, given the all but total absence of farmers from the Farmer’s Market, the SLABBED must “never, never, never give up”.   I didn’t give up my search for fresh produce – but my father could have plowed a field with the gas it took for me to come up with the lady peas simmering as I type.

The “build it and they’ll come” folks won; so they build it but the farmers didn’t come.  Expecting people who measure time by the weather to sell the fruit vegetables of their labor from tables inside a building instead of an open-air stall was folly – as was the focus on rebuilding schools in the coastal counties where other rebuilding was stalled.  The Sun Herald reports, Biloxi may close 3 school:

Biloxi’s enrollment never has reached pre-Katrina levels… The district is down about 1,300 students from 2005 and with the lack of affordable housing and the cost of insurance, Tisdale doesn’t expect enrollment to increase dramatically.

“The recession isn’t our biggest issue,” he said. “Student enrollment is our biggest issue.” Continue reading “a hurricane is a thunderstorm without thunder and a Farmer’s Market without farmers is a…”