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