Merlin – Amy Bach and United Policyholders Supports Mississippi Insurance Protections

Sun Herald reporter Michael Newsom reported the current current status of insurance legislation pending at the Capitol in House OK’s Compromise:

House Bill 563 passed in a 107-7 vote Wednesday, which included all South Mississippi representatives voting for it. The measure is the lone surviving piece of Hurricane Katrina insurance legislation. Several other insurance bills, which Coast lawmakers file annually, died with a Feb. 2 deadline to clear committee. Coast lawmakers have said the insurance industry carries much influence over the Legislature, which has contributed to the bills failing in the years since Hurricane Katrina.

However, House Bill 563, the subject of Sop’s recent post Watered down policyholder legislation still hanging on in the Mississippi  Legislature, passed the House with language Sop claimed would give insurers “free rein” still in the bill:

In addition to the rights that are specified by the commissioner and the provision regarding reasonable time frames, the Mississippi Homeowners Insurance Policyholder Bill of Rights must include the following provisions:  (a) Unless based on sound actuarial principles, an insurance company may not treat a policyholder differently from other individuals of the same class and essentially the same  hazard when evaluating a claim…(emphasis added)

Keep in mind that Sop is a CPA who knows “adjusting claims has nothing to do with “actuarial principles” and his related opinion is as worthy of consideration as that of those in other professions commenting on proposed insurance legislation:

Taken at its face that language essentially gives an insurer free rein to do whatever the heck they want provided they pay a shill like Robert Hartwig enough to concoct some whopper actuarial principle to justify why it is OK for an insurer to hose a policyholder on a claim.

Sop spoke for SLABBED when he pointed out the red flag language in House Bill 563 and I saw no need to add more until I read this paragraph in Merlin’s related post this morning:

I am certain many may think these efforts are a waste of time because the insurance lobby in Mississippi seems to be in control of the political process. Standing up for the right principle and social policy is always the right thing to do. Like water in a stream relentlessly influencing the earth, just social policy reflected in law will eventually happen. But this will occur only so long as we stand up to those with more significant wealth or power that are attempting to keep the unjust status quo in place.

It is not the strength of the insurance lobby that concerns me.  Instead, my consideration is framing insurance legislation as a matter of “social policy” when the “unjust status quo in place” is a matter of “public policy”.  The distinction is important. Continue reading “Merlin – Amy Bach and United Policyholders Supports Mississippi Insurance Protections”

Watered down policyholder legislation still hanging on in the Mississippi Legislature

I have a trio of stories from last week’s Sun Herald on the efforts to pass consumer friendly insurance legislation this legislative session. Regular Slabbed readers know that consumers have not had much of a chance in our special interest owned legislature but there are some signs that we must be closing in on an election year because a watered down policyholder bill of rights finally made it out of committee in the State House of Representatives as the Sun Herald’s Michael Newsom explains:

The state House Insurance Committee passed a compromise version of the “policyholder’s bill of rights” Tuesday, which kept the bill alive ahead of a legislative deadline to clear committee.

But if the bill passes the full House, it may face long odds in the Senate Insurance Committee, which hasn’t taken up similar post-Hurricane Katrina insurance reform measures.

The House Insurance Committee passed House Bill 563 unanimously. It would put into law language from a court decision that says the burden of proof is on the insurance company to prove an exclusion in a policy applies to a claim. The bill also requires insurers to notify homeowners if they intend to increase the premium by 10 percent or more, by sending written notice of the increase 30 days before the renewal date, among other provisions. If the company doesn’t send notice in time, the policy renews at the same rate.

This next bit of language left me scratching my head and makes me wonder how low the cumulative insurance IQ of the State House of Representatives is because adjusting claims has nothing to do with “actuarial principles”: Continue reading “Watered down policyholder legislation still hanging on in the Mississippi Legislature”

Some friends are in the news today

Long Beach resident Kevin Buckel and United Policyholders executive director Amy Bach to be specific. Kevin’s website details his thus far fruitless pursuit of a statutory Policyholder Bill of Rights for Mississippians. It has been blocked in committee in the Senate by Sen. Eugene “Buck” Clarke, a GOP free market true believer over at the Big Rock Candy Mountain in Jackson.

We’ve also chronicaled Mr Buckel’s efforts at fostering transparency at the Mississippi Department of Insurance as he has taken our current Commish to court after the claims files used in the sham Market Conduct Study began under Mr Chaney’s predecessor turned insurance lobbyist George Dale as overseen by former Deputy Commish Lee Harrell who now works for State Farm law firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz. Mr Chaney has thus far successfully stonewalled those efforts. Anita Lee picks up more recent events here:

A Coast policyholder is appealing to the state Supreme Court for access to Mississippi Insurance Department records that would show the dollar amount of Katrina claims denied by insurance companies.

Long Beach policyholder Kevin Buckel filed a written request in January 2009 for records showing the total amount of damages homeowners claimed, the total amount paid and the total amount denied by private property insurance companies. MID maintains the agency does not have the records.

United Policyholders of America is helping Buckel fund the appeal. Continue reading “Some friends are in the news today”

Catching up with Coastie Kevin Buckel and his Open Records Suit Against the Commish (Updated)

Kevin Buckel is a familiar name to us at Slabbed and I was very happy to hear from him via email last week. Anita Lee at the Sun Herald has been keeping up with Mr Buckel’s efforts at fostering transparency at the Mississippi DOI as well as his citizen push to have the legislature afford Mississippian/policyholders basic protections afforded citizens elsewhere via a policyholder bill of rights which once again fell victim earlier this year to the insurance lobby at the capitol. Mr Buckel has also received assistance and some backing from United Policyholders in his efforts.

The DOI here in Mississippi, run by former insurance agent underwriter Mike Chaney, has thus far resisted Mr Buckel’s efforts.  He subsequently filed suit against the Commish to compel production of the MID’s public records in an action I briefly profiled in early March. The Sun Herald story is long gone from their website but there is still a copy in the google cache for those interested in seeing the story in its entirety.

Since that time Mr Chaney has filed a motion for summary judgement and Mr Buckel has repliedMr Buckel has a website with links to some of those legal docs as well as proposed state legislation he has pushed.

Tomorrow there will be a hearing on this case. We’re trying to get more specific info which is a challenge as the online court docket is down. If Steve can shake some time loose we’ll also be there.

Update:

Kevin emailed me with the hearing time tomorrow. It will be at 9:30AM at the County Courthouse, Chancery Court.

sop