The Bolivar Peninsula TWIA policyholders have had the most frustrating insurance claim experience of any group in recent memory. While we have been having success with other Hurricane Ike claims, the Slabbers claims resolutions have proven difficult. They have not just back and taken this abuse either as I noted in Texas Windstorm "Slabbers" and Policyholders March on Austin.

One even made a joke about how, according to TWIA, they each have exactly 11.2% of building value damage, reflected in The Parable of Hurricane Ike Insurance Claims:

The parable is a story of two men, Larry and Moe, who were on the peninsula when Ike hit. Larry was struck by a flying 2X4 launched by the wind, then, when the surge came, he grasped a floating timber and made it to safety. He was treated for his injuries, estimated at 11% of his being.

Moe was not so lucky. He was killed instantly by a flying TV set. The storm surge subsequently swept his body away.

The medical examiner compared Moe’s corpse to Larry. After taking several months to consider the situation, the examiner declared that Moe was only 11% killed by wind, because that’s what happened to Larry. He opined that 89% of Moe’s death must have been due to flooding.

As a result of Javier Delagado following up on evidence produced in an administrative trial, Slabbers finally have the answer of how TWIA performed the calculations that everybody has exactly the same damage. The person making the calculation for TWIA was University of Texas Professor William Spelman. The TWIA attorneys introduced his testimony via a previous administrative hearing to avoid expense—so much for the ability to confront and cross examine a witness. The TWIA pleading was very telling: 

Dr. William Spelman provided sworn testimony in a previous contested case hearing involving a "slab" claim (see SOAH docket No. 454-09-3158.E). He has not been retained by T.W.I.A. to specifically evaluate any particular claim, but rather he was reetained to perform a statistical analysis from which all slab claims were evaluated by T.W.I.A. His sworn testimony offered in the previous contested case hearing explained the process by which he performed his statistical analysis, and another witness explained how that statistical analysis was applied to the particular slab claim.

Spelman’s transcript revealed that he has no insurance claim experience. Instead, his education is political science, economics, and public policy. He is not a contractor, estimator, meteorologist, or engineer. He teaches applied math and statistics at the University of Texas-Austin School of Public Affairs.

The “Reader’s Digest” version of what he did to calculate how each of the Bolivar Slabbers would be entitled to 11.2% was to perform a statistical regression analysis where three main variables were considered to provide a statistical expectancy that 95% of all residential Slabbers would fully be indemnified for wind only damage if TWIA paid 11.2% of the insured value of the structure. He was provided information and variables from 387 TWIA estimated claims of partial damage. After consultation with TWIA retained engineers, he considered 18 different variables from those claims, but found that only three of them had a significant impact upon the wind damage. Those three variables were:

  1. Whether the building use was residential or commercial.
  2. Whether the building was constructed before 2004.
  3. Whether the roof was placed on the structure before 1989.

He determined a “loss ratio” which he defined as the Actual Cash Value payment by TWIA on the partial damage buildings divided by the Insured Value. The average residential payment loss ratio was 9.8%. But, if TWIA paid 11.2%, he calculated that 95% of all Slabbers would statistically have their full indemnity on an actual cash value basis.

There is much to criticize with this work. Indeed, from what we have reviewed regarding the accuracy and low-balling of the TWIA estimates of partial damage, the entire population will have to be revised. We will provide more on the extent TWIA underpays wind damage claims on partial losses.

Still, I felt that Slabbers are entitled to know the person and how the amount was arrived at. Here is the pleading and testimony for everybody’s review.