Rep. Jackie Toledo

The Insurance Journal published an article last week, Sometimes I Disagree with the Blogs I Love. The article had a lengthy discussion of this blog. I really like how it started:

Property Insurance Coverage Law – Chip Merlin and team do a great job helping me to understand what’s going on in property insurance law around the country. Everyone that writes here is super sharp and helps me to understand the legal changes and challenges around the country.

The Insurance Journal correctly noted that I was trying to stir up attention and reaction to anti-policyholder legislation. Sometimes, I do not publicly share all that we are doing behind the scenes to help policyholders. Our firm employs lobbyists to help us support policyholder interests. We try to be good leaders for policyholders and advocating for them—even when they do not know it. We try to set a good example for others. So, while the article questioned why I did not do certain actions, I am not going to publicly state everything we are doing because it is not in the policyholders’ interests to let the insurance lobby with their vast resources know everything we will do to stop them.

The insurance companies have more money than the Almighty. They truly have an army of very clever lawyers and lobbyists trying to get politicians to pass laws that harm those politicians’ own constituents. They often spread misinformation and try to create a crisis so there is a false need for a change in the law. Those lobbyists and their insurance company clients are doing all this legally, but for their own self interests which is often not in their customers interests.

Insurance companies do not like to have their dirty laundry of bad claims practices exposed. What better way is there to prevent this than by eliminating the policyholder’s ability to file suit for redress when they are harmed by the insurance company’s bad and unethical actions?

I can share a letter to, and a subsequent conversation with, my local representative, The Honorable Jackie Toledo. I wrote:

Dear Representative Toledo,

The purpose of this letter is to request that you vote against a very anti-consumer bill, HB 301, relating to Insurance, by Representative Santiago, which the insurance industry is pushing through the Legislature. The bill would delete longstanding legal protections for all policyholders and instead protect insurance companies who delay, deny and underpay your constituents’ insurance claims.

I live and work in your district. Our 60-attorney law firm has its home office on Harbour Island. We have represented hundreds of your constituents who have been harmed by slow paying, denying and underpaying insurance companies. HB 301 would allow another loophole for wrongful acting insurers to escape accountability.

Our lawyers believe, with all the deserved debate about AOB reform, that the insurance industry is trying an end around to delete these consumer protections that have existed since 1982 without a sound basis.

The Justice Subcommittee is scheduled to meet next Wednesday morning and, if this bill is placed on the agenda, we would ask that you not only vote against it but stand up for policyholder rights.

The AOB reform deserves a different view and fair debate. We are not certain what the exact legal language is which would best help policyholders, be appropriate to the insurance industry and also fair to quality contractors.

HB 301 is not part of the AOB discussion. It is purely a ‘get out jail of free’ law for wrongful insurance companies. We strongly urge you to protect your constituents, our clients and vote against it.

Jackie called me and told me she had two claims—a fire loss and a water loss. She was upset by the treatment she received in both. She is going to vote against the bill, protect her constituents and help explain why this part of the bill would be bad public policy.

I will discuss more about the Insurance Journal article later because it misses a huge point about administrative remedies. At the same time, I want to encourage readers to join the Journal’s Academy of Insurance. It has so many great classes with deep discussion about how insurance is supposed to work. The price of membership is low, and you will be better for the education.

Thought For The Day

If you think education is expensive, try estimating the cost of ignorance.
—Howard Gardner

  • James Purcell

    Anyone in this industry for a length of time can see how much work Merlin Law Group does on behalf of policyholders and the industry dedicated to helping them. Thanks for everything you and your team do every day!

  • Edward Fako

    Chip,

    It is oxymoronically gratifying to hear that Honorable Representative Jackie Toledo had a First Party Insight into these precise matters.

    Lets hope her message gets rallying support, or additional Honorable Representatives get the Real World Insight that she unfortunately had to deal with, just as her Constituents do.

    I can not impress strongly enough, the urgency and potential impact that all affected Residents can have by simply writing to their local Representatives and Copying all others from the other voting Districts.

    Please, repeatedly provide the Contact Information for them in Comments to easily provide access to the potentially defrauded Voting Public.

    Lastly, I encourage anyone in the Industry, on either side to follow Mr. Patrick Wright of The Insurance Journal. Their array of resources are overwhelming to behold.

    Devotedly,

    Edward G.. Fako
    InsuranceClaimAppraisals@gmail.com

  • I wrote almost 30 years ago that, if insurers were really smart, their customer records would have at least one one-byte field that they could toggle if a customer was a potential “trouble maker” like a legislator or trial lawyer. ;-)

    I agree on the Academy of Insurance membership recommendation. One reason is biased…next week I’ll be presenting Episode 3 of my 12-part monthly webinar series on my book “When Words Collide: Resolving Insurance Coverage and Claims Disputes.” For (I believe) the $279 cost of membership, subscribers get access to all 12 parts (including the recorded versions) of the series PLUS over 200 other programs from presenters I know for a fact to be experts in insurance coverage issues.