As the New York Times explained, mobile homes burn easily. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called for a review of building standards following the complete destruction of 500 manufactured homes in the Oakridge Mobile Home Park. California building officials have noted that building regulations must be strengthened to account for the wildfire hazards in California. Regulators asking for tougher building codes to prevent widespread catastrophe are nothing new and, in the long term, are generally good for society and insurance companies.
The Austin American-Statesmen quoted Galveston Judge Jim Yarbrough as stating that Hurricane Ike recovery efforts are going to be more of a marathon than a sprint. He is right, especially for those in areas that had a combination of storm surge and wind related damage. The Judge noted that it was going to take at least two years before a substantial recovery is made. Sadly, he is entirely accurate.
Our office in Houston has been without power for a week. Tina Nicholson, who heads up our Houston office, held out for awhile, but has worked out of Gulfport since Wednesday. Frank Chimento spent most of the week working out of the Houston Omni, which is flooded with adjusters from all over the country. Initial reports have ranged from $8 billion to $18 billion in covered damages. The sense I get is the $18 billion figure may be breached.
State Farm has apparently made a significant push in manpower and communications regarding the adjustment of claims in Louisiana and Texas. It takes thousands of adjusters and sufficient communications to get the job done promptly. Delay caused State Farm’s old claims mantra under Frank Haines–"pay neither a penny more nor less"–has no place in the claims process, especially following a catastrophe. Good luck to the company with the "Good Neighbor" slogan. Many of my policyholder colleagues simply hate when I say anything nice about State Farm or any other insurance company. I appreciate that, especially if they feel that they have been wronged by insurance company adjusters or attorneys.
Wind versus flood. Insurance companies will use causation to deny claims just as they did in the hundreds of cases we litigated after Ivan and Katrina. We will retain meteorologists and structural engineers as this issue will be litigated in Texas and western Louisiana. Rimkus and Haag are located in Texas. I wonder how many outcome oriented reports they will issue this time around to support lowers claims payments by insurance companies. I wonder whether the insurance industry has made a bonafide search for engineering firms that are not beholden to them and who will write reports that are in the customers’ best interests. I am not holding my breath.
As Hurricane Ike menaces Florida and possibly other areas of the Gulf Coast, insurance industry analysts have re-evaluated Hurricane Gustav. Now that insurers have some preliminary estimates, it appears that the $10 billion valuation of claim severity will be much lower, possibly less than $5 billion. See "Insured losses mount, slowly, as Gustav damage keeps…
Just when the lights are turned back on, roads cleared and the messes cleaned up from Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricane Gustav, here come the next two platinum hits on the 2008 Storm Charts. Tropical Storm Hanna cannot seem to figure herself out. She will likely move along the Carolinas and up the Atlantic Coastline. Hurricane…