Mississippi Miscallany: The reason there is a website called Slabbed.Org

Minor family wins $1.56 million verdict against USAA in Jackson County court ~ Anita Lee

USAA attorney Greg Copeland did not return a telephone call to comment about the case.

Gee, seems like just yesterday Copeland was backslapping and celebrating……

No ruling on Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd’s bond revocation today ~ April Havens

Government rebuts Ladner’s collusion complaint ~ Dwayne Bremer

Rocks crush Sumrall, 55-0 ~ Joe Gex II

Coverage on the come? USAA denies coverage in the case of the doughnut glazed dress

After all folks, had they sent an adjuster to Judy Barrasso’s place, such certainly would have surfaced on finer claims adjusting blogs like our friend Deb over at Dimechimes Claims Mentor.  I’ll add we’ve retained a good number of our old insurance industry based readers including Claims Guy, who no longer comments in favor of lurking but USAA always comes running when Slabbed mentions their name so along those lines I imagine Keith Magness’ claim generated a few chuckles over San Antonio way.

I mention all this because a week ago Friday Paul Purpura wrote an account for the TP about Keith Magness’ various legal problems that included a short snippet about USAA denying coverage for Keith meaning they will not be funding his legal expenses, at least up front anyhow. (H/T Bellesouth)

In a final ironic twist this is not the first time we’ve highlighted USAA in a legal case involving the duty to defend lest we forget the case Houghtaling v Richardson, the now infamous Magnum “Hammer of the gods” case where USAA ended up having to defend Richardson for throwing a hammer in Magnum’s direction as he spend down a residential street doing warp 5 in his expensive foreign sports car.  We found out in comments the Ad Hoc Judge originally assigend to the case was Robert Creely, Tom Porteous’ former law partner.  The back story there is I contacted Creely Continue reading “Coverage on the come? USAA denies coverage in the case of the doughnut glazed dress”

49% residential lots vacant in East Biloxi, “squirrel farts”, Commissioner upset USAA breaking wind – and other Saturday news

I’m going to go ahead and call in my power outage to Entergy now because it takes them that long to get out here and fix it when it does go out, which is often, even if a squirrel farts.. but of course they don’t care to fix that problem… but I better not be late paying my bill…

This reader comment on the Clarion Ledger’s story, Snow, freezing rain in weekend forecast for the state, had me ROFLMAO – and definitely disproves the notion that “only boring people talk about the weather”.

While Entergy may not “care to fix” the problem of “squirrel fart” power outages, the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio wants to know why 44% of East Biloxi still vacant from Katrina:

Nearly half the land in East Biloxi is still vacant more than five years after Hurricane Katrina, according to a survey by the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio.

The survey, released Friday, comprised land east of Interstate 110, excluding downtown. It showed 49.5 percent of the residential lots and 44 percent of all property was vacant in 2010.

“The reason people have for not returning is still a mystery,” said Stephen Crim, a community planner with the Design Studio and leader of the survey. “There are all sorts of anecdotal reasons we can cite to explain why vacancy persists,” he said. Some property owners may be waiting for a casino or other developer to buy the land at a premium, he said. The national real estate crash and recession are other factors, as is the cost of wind insurance near the Coast…

The good folk at the Design Studio could find a big clue to the mystery in Insurance commissioner wants answers from USAA, Anita Lee’s follow-up story on USAA’s decision to drop wind coverage for “at least 1,150 Coast policyholders”.

Despite years of MID assuring the post-Katrina Legislature proposed policyholder protection legislation wasn’t needed, Lee reports “there is no legal requirement for companies to contact the department for this type of action”. Oops! Would it pass if advocates renamed their oft failed proposal a “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights”? Continue reading “49% residential lots vacant in East Biloxi, “squirrel farts”, Commissioner upset USAA breaking wind – and other Saturday news”

Happy New Year from USAA – company dropping wind coverage for policyholders on the Coast

Yesterday’s Sun Herald reported USAA”s New Year’s greeting – Anita Lee had the story:

USAA, the property insurance company for active military and military retirees, plans to discontinue wind and hail coverage for at least 1,150 Coast policyholders, the Mississippi Insurance Department confirmed Wednesday.

A 45-year policyholder with USAA alerted the Sun Herald that the insurance company had notified him by mail his wind and hail would be discontinued when his policy expires in late February.

John Wells of MID said he called USAA and confirmed coverage would be dropped for some Coast customers after two policyholders called him. Wells said both customers who called him were within 1,000 feet of the waterfront. The boundary for wind and hail cutoff was unclear, Wells said.

USAA did not immediately return telephone calls from the Sun Herald about the notifications to policyholders.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said MID is working with a couple of companies interested in entering the Coast insurance market, including one company that would write wind policies.

Reader comments were insightful:

In 2005, I had been a USAA customer for 49 years! When I called and told the claim dept that my home was completely gone to the ground, I was told that I would be getting a full 100% policy payment (well into 6 figures) We didn’t hear anything for several weeks, and since we were too busy trying to find stuff and recover, we didn’t think to call back. When we realized we didn’t have a mailbox anymore,we again called to let them know we hadn’t received a check or seen an adjuster. That is when we were told that they had not and would not send an adjuster as they had determined, apparently from a internet map, that it was all surge and we were not covered. We got nothing, zero, natta. Tried to sue and lost as a clause in the policy exempted surge. We wern’t in a flood zone so if it wasn’t for the grant, I don’t know what we would have done. Thanks to the Miss Grant program.

SLABBED add a “we-told-you-so” to this an other comments showing there were policyholders on the Coast denied coverage without consideration of the wind damage that preceeded the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina – and the government picked up the tab!

And the Wall Street Journal put two reporters on the story and still managed to butcher it. An Allstate Hurricane Katrina Fraud Update.

I recently met with a group of political strategists that noticed our little blog in Soggy Bottom and the information exchange was very enlightening for me.  I’m as interested in the mechanics of the story as the story itself and the tales I was told of how these folks manipulated the traditional media were very interesting.  More than any other skill set these folks had a keen understanding of human behavior which is a shared passion with us at Slabbed.

The garden variety bashing I sometime engage in to drive traffic sometimes obscures the fact Slabbed is in reality a quest for knowledge as in getting all the facts that surrounded the blanket denials of insurance coverage  after Katrina no matter where those facts may lead.  This may sound elementary, indeed even simplistic, but I’d submit we stand in stark contrast to our own insurance regulators that ignored all the evidence of fraud on part of their corporate benefactors from the insurance industry after Katrina, Mike Chaney even going so far as to attack the Rigsby sisters, who exposed the fraud perpetrated by State Farm on the US Treasury here in Mississippi.  This frankly came as no surprise to me, especially after it came out that the lawyer who ran the market conduct study for Mr Chaney left the Mississippi Department of Insurance for State Farm’s Jackson based law firm.

Insurance companies have lots of money to throw around and spend vast sums of money on shills, propagandists and their own in-house PR departments. These folks are mostly rent an opinion hookers that dispense half-truths in furtherance of their own paychecks.  Armed with lots of factoids and ready made quotes, deadline pressed journalists flock to them in droves, often uncritically lapping up the intellectually dishonest drivel folks like the III’s Robert Hartwig, who this past summer passed off a bogus poll about the NFIP to the media.  To her credit, Becky Mowbray over at the T-P busted Hartwig and frankly I was amused at Mike Chaney’s blatant duplicity in the Sun Herald’s reporting on the same topic.  I guess Chaney tells so many whoppers he can’t keep them all straight but that is another post.

I mention all this because Ashby Jones and Joanne Lublin recently wrote a story for the Wall Street Journal on the topic of corporate whistleblowers and the new financial re-regulation legislation which is so full of self-serving corporate PR spin these two journalists should be ashamed, Continue reading “And the Wall Street Journal put two reporters on the story and still managed to butcher it. An Allstate Hurricane Katrina Fraud Update.”

Allstate files Answer in Branch – and this I couldn’t make up!

My calendar was marked with the due date for Allstate’s Answer to the Branch SAC (Second Amended Complaint); and, given the Allstate Motion for Extension of Time…and…Page Limits, I expected the “good hands” to mix things up:

In its notice of nonintervention filed in Denenea, the Government stated that ‘with the addition of Allstate as a defendant in Branch Consultants, the question of whether the jurisdictional bar under 31 U.S.C. § 3730(b)(5) is triggered as to either the relator in Denenea or the relator in Branch Consultants arises’…Allstate seeks a ten day extension of the deadline for it to respond to the SAC so that Allstate may address the impact of the Denenea action on the viability of the SAC’s claims against Allstate…

Allstate also respectfully moves for an extension of the page limit…In addition to the issues raised by the Denenea action, Allstate’s motion will address the first-to-file, res judicata, and law of the case issues raised by the Rigsby complaint and this Court’s and the Fifth Circuit’s prior rulings dismissing Allstate under the first-to-file rule.”

Allstate, however, did more than just mix things up.  The Company’s Answer to the Branch complaint reads as if Abbott and Constello were heading Allstate’s legal team and offering who-filed-first as a defense! Continue reading “Allstate files Answer in Branch – and this I couldn’t make up!”

Homie Dave Treutel snags a spot on the NFIP advisory board

I’ve known Dave pretty much all my life. He comes from a fine family and is a fine choice for the insurance industry advisory board to the NFIP.  Being from Bay St Louis he had a ring side seat after Katrina to the myriad of ways insurers defrauded the NFIP for example and witnessed first hand the human toll of the bad faith claims handling procedures employed by certain insurers, so he takes the human equation with him to the quarterly DC meetings as well.  Dave’s business acumen means he also has a good understanding of the internal controls needed at NFIP, most notably a bit of oversight, to insure that major retail insurers never defraud the program again.

Anita Lee has all the details at the Sun Herald and in a great example of a broken clock being right twice a day, she even snagged some quotes from Jimbo the Clown’s sidekick, Mississippi Insurance commissioner Mikey “The Cook” Chaney who shares our sentiments about Dave and what he brings to the table.  Unfortunately for the citizens of Mississippi, Mikey does not recognize fraud even when it bites him on the ass unless it is an individual defrauding a major multinational insurer. Fortunately for us at Slabbed, Mikey doesn’t know when to shut his mouth but such is a common trait with the political class. We’ll be visiting on him again soon.

Again our congratulations to Dave Treutel and we’re delighted to have in him as our voice within the NFIP.  Well done Dave!


And while Phil waxes nonsensical let's not forget to record the musings of Mississippi's Teletubby in charge

Haley Barbour and staff just before commenting on the oil spill


Folks, you are not misreading the quote dutifully chronicled by the Sun Herald’s Karen Nelson, Haley said he trusts the Army Corps of Engineers

Gov. Haley Barbour and DMR Director Bill Walker said Thursday they trust the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers not to allow Louisiana to build any berm or sand barriers east of the mouth of Mississippi River that would cause oil to flow into Mississippi waters. 

Good thing you trust them Haley because no one down here does. 

Its gets better though because Haley and Phil evidently have their talking points and they are sticking with them by God

Gov. Haley Barbour, in a news conference Thursday, said the brown-orange mousse that has been washing ashore in Louisiana is not dangerous. Continue reading “And while Phil waxes nonsensical let's not forget to record the musings of Mississippi's Teletubby in charge”

Systemic Denial: A Corban v USAA postscript

First the systemic:

Insurance companies basically sell security. A consumer is willing to pay insurance premiums in the expectation that if something bad happens—a house burns down, a car crashes—the company will pay for the loss that otherwise might financially ruin the consumer.

I had homeowners (wind/hail) through USAA, I also purchased my flood coverage through USAA. After Katrina I had a slab and pilings left. The National Flood Insurance policy paid off fairly quickly. Concerning my Wind/Hail coverage, USAA sent me a letter saying “Where there is no coverage, no payment can be made”. I decided to fight them. I attended the State Ins. Dept. sponsored arbitration, where USAA offered my about ten cents on the dollar. I signed an impasse statement and did not accept their offer. I hired my own experts (structure and weather) and kept the pressure on USAA. Approaching the 3 year anniversary of Katrina, USAA sent me a check for the full insured value of my home with no explanation. I lost the interest on the payment for three years

Now for the complete denial. This from team USAA last October: Continue reading “Systemic Denial: A Corban v USAA postscript”

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”