Chip Merlin

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Merlin vs Badger II – Gonna Be the Baddest Show in Orlando

The Windstorm Insurance Conference in Orlando will feature a debate re-match between yours truly representing the policyholder view and Steve Badger who represents insurance companies. Many of my policyholder friends often ask how I can have such a good professional relationship with Badger whom they view as somebody akin to Darth Vader. I am certain some … Continue Reading

Insurance Bulletins Can Help Consumers Looking for Full Recovery

Rarely do insurance commissioner bulletins warn insurance companies of paying too much or that consumers are not entitled to insurance benefits. Most departments of insurance only write bulletins because insurance company adjusters pay far too less to similarly situated consumers suffering from the same loss.  Of course, insurance company lobbyists now go into overdrive to … Continue Reading

Building Losses Before Demolition

A public adjuster asked me for a copy of Cigna Property & Casualty Insurance Company v. Verzi1. It involves a fairly uncommon situation where a building is damaged or destroyed before a contemplated demolition. Insurers usually try to avoid paying these losses because they argue the policyholder is obtaining a windfall. From their view, the … Continue Reading

The Pain of Loss Following a Catastrophe

David Hisey is a great guy and has worked for the insurance industry forever. He ran the Winsdstorm Network’s golf tournament for over a decade. The picture above is his burned home from the recent Gatlinburg wildfire. Losing everything and the memories associated with your home is one of the worst emotional times in life. … Continue Reading

State Farm Claims Whistleblowers Win in United States Supreme Court and May Get Additional Evidence of Wrongdoing

The Rigsby sisters have now prevailed in the highest court of the land in their decade long fight against State Farm.1 The Rigsby sisters were catastrophe adjusters working for State Farm on Hurricane Katrina claims. I have noted this case for some time: The Insurance Adjuster’s Dilemma: Tell the Truth and Face the Consequences By … Continue Reading

Incentive Pay to Lower Insurance Claims to Policyholders Still Exists

The recent Wells Fargo calamity of opening customer accounts without permission underscores how financial incentives can promote unethical behavior by employees on the front line of servicing customers. I was asked by a reporter involved with stories of the recent Tennessee wildfire whether insurance companies offer incentive pay to their claims managers.… Continue Reading

Calculating Depreciation: Are Generic Tables Reliable or Based on Any Scientific Study?

Depreciation tables were first introduced to me when studying accounting at the University of Florida. The tables were based on tax schedules and other accounting methods which usually had nothing to do with the actual depreciation of an item. Indeed, if you used tax depreciation tables, some items could be written off immediately despite little … Continue Reading

Determining Depreciation: The Definition of Actual Cash Value Varies Widely Between States

In yesterday’s post, Determining Depreciation–Are Policyholders Getting Ripped Off, I promised to discuss issues of actual cash value and depreciation. The article I am critiquing giving rise to this discussion cited California law regarding actual cash value and then made this statement: In states in which condition is not included in the definition of actual … Continue Reading

Determining Depreciation–Are Policyholders Getting Ripped Off?

Many property insurance company adjusters are required by their companies to determine the amount of depreciation to be taken when arriving at amounts of actual cash value. Many are told to determine this amount by determining the replacement cost and then subtracting depreciation. The question is: How are property insurance adjusters trained to determine depreciation … Continue Reading

State Farm Operation Guidelines Regarding Wind and Hail Damage to Composition Roofs

Insurance companies routinely have instructions for their claims adjusters on how to adjust various types of losses. State Farm has some of the most detailed claims guidelines in the industry. I have often stated that for first-party claims, relevant claims guidelines should also be provided to the policyholders who suffer losses. Why not?… Continue Reading

Colorado Hail Storm Seminar

Colorado Springs was hit by epic hail storms this past July. Reports noted tennis ball size hail and citizens shoveling away hail as if it were a snowstorm. A massive number of hail storm insurance claims resulted. As sure as the sun rises, disputes about how much is covered and the amount owed under the … Continue Reading

Cosmetic and Functional Damage – An Academic Discussion by Neil Hall

Insurance companies have turned the property insurance world upside down by denying claims based on engineers who claim that no "functional damage" occurred and only "cosmetic damage" was sustained at the insured property. Most of us in the property insurance claims business have been taught that any "physical damage" is covered by a property insurance … Continue Reading

Public Adjusters in the Bahamas

Public adjusters have been calling our Florida offices regarding Hurricane Matthew. One of the frequent questions asked is if they can practice public adjusting in the Bahamas. Only the Almighty knows for certain where Hurricane Matthew is going, and I would not count out anywhere from Florida and up the eastern seaboard of the United … Continue Reading
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