A former insurance defense attorney called me yesterday, asking if I would represent him and his wife in their sinkhole insurance dispute. While he oversaw many sinkhole matters from the insurance company’s position, I guess he knows that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. His call to me is part of a trend, sinkhole loss calls to our Tampa office have been on the rise. Last week, the St. Petersburg Times ran a front page lead article, Geologists Worry About Drought’s Effects on Sinkhole Season. The insurance coverage available, various statutory changes, caselaw, science, and repair of sinkhole losses make these cases fairly complex. Extreme rains or droughts seem to make sinkholes more frequent.

Continue Reading Sinkhole Coverage and Losses are Extraordinarily Complex

Free enterprise is great until your competitors beat you. Dominant competitors may find it advantageous to combine interests to prevent new players from entering markets, destroying profit margins, and taking market share. It is amazing that there has not been more investigation and calls for transparency into the major personal lines insurance companies’ discussions and agreements which may reveal such a conspiracy. While anti-trust exemptions exist for insurance companies regarding sharing of loss data for rate making and other rate or form issues, there are no anti-trust exemptions for agreements that otherwise restrain trade and competition through collusion.

Continue Reading State Farm’s, Allstate’s and Nationwide’s Concerted Agenda To Stop Competition And Insure Profits

State Farm is hard to figure out. They say one thing and often do another. When you finally get to the decision makers, there is usually some logic to why they do things despite disagreement from consumers or regulators. State Farm’s announcement that it was leaving the Florida property market really has me wondering–"what’s up?" From what I read and hear, I am not the only one.

Continue Reading State Farm’s Power Play And Propaganda Ploy

Best is reporting that State Farm continues to retreat from the insurance business in Mississippi.  The headline suggests that State Farm merely canceled policies, but the article reveals that State Farm canceled 900 policies, and changed the terms of 5,000 more customers by refusing to insure for wind peril. As I have explained, our largest insurance carriers are getting out of the risk business. 

Continue Reading Large Insurers Continue To Withdraw From The Risk Business

 Capitalism and economic venture are alive and well in the Florida insurance market.  The Florida Underwriter reported this month that over 1.7 million policies have been written by new insurance companies since the 2004 hurricane season.  As Allstate, State Farm and Nationwide retreat from the Florida property insurance market, these new insurance companies are accepting risks that would otherwise end up with Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.

Continue Reading New Insurance Companies Founded in Florida

The article in today’s Tampa Tribune regarding a Federal Wind Insurance debate comes as no surprise.  Amazing how big Insurance is adopting Enterprise Risk Theory to further its interest.  Since large corporations in the insurance field are not so much interested in how they make money, just that they make as much as safely possible, it is no wonder they are making the case for Federal wind coverage.

Continue Reading Federal Property Insurance

 Tuesday was a rather interesting day.  Our firm helped win a $4.6 million dollar judgment for a panhandle Condominium Association last year. Citizens Property Insurance Corporation did not pay, as usual, but appealed.  I argued the case [Citizens Property Ins. Corp. vs. East Pass Towers II Condominium, No. 1D07-2727 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. oral argument Jan. 22, 2008)] for our client in Tallahassee, met with the Association representatives, and then made my way up the hill to the State Capitol where the Select Committee on Property Insurance Accountability was meeting. One of firm’s lobbyists briefed me on the schedule and introduced me to some of the panel members I had not previously met.  We wondered if the media attention and articles (Tom Zucco, No Auto for Allstate, St. Petersburg Times, January 17, 2008, at A1; Jerome R. Stockfisch, State Bans Allstate From writing any New Policies,  January 17, 2008, Tampa Tribune) following last week’s 0ffice of Insurance Regulation hearing would cause more attention to be focused on these proceedings. 

Continue Reading Insurance Industry Claims And Rate Practices Come Under Public Scrutiny

 A year ago the news from Mississippi largely concerned insurance claims practices, trials, and significant settlements. Except for the recent article of our firm’s settlement of twenty two cases against State Farm, the media focus has been on alleged corruption of some policyholder attorneys, especially Dickie Scruggs. Insurance industry leaders must be smiling because this news coverage has completely derailed efforts for meaningful claims practice reform and protective legislation for policyholders.

Continue Reading Changing The Focus

In their rationale for upholding Judge Senter’s verdict, the 5th Circuit provides a less than stellar (okay really absurd) example of non-coverage that virtually all insurance companies issuing an all-risk policy would heretofore pay. After finding that the anti-concurrent causation language was not ambiguous, Judge Edith Jones went too far and provided the following:

Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Got it WRONG!!