Claim Litigation Update- Hurricane Ike- Texas Windpool – TWIA spent 39 million defending and settling Hurricane Ike losses

February 10, 2011

Just a quick link to news on the TWIA total cost of defending Hurricane Ike losses in TX- 39 million plus the millions in plaintiff attorney awards on settled losses bringing the total legal fees to over 127 million!

http://www.texaswatchdog.org/2011/01/texas-windstorm-association-spent-almost-39-million-defending/1294443354.column

Just another ClaimSmentor moment quick topic!


TWIA to settle 2400 Hurricane Ike Slabbed Claims for $189M

July 18, 2010

While I’ve been off for a few weeks enjoying company over the July 4th holidays there has been lots of important claims news I need to catch up on. Here is one of the most important developments indicating settlement negotiations resulting in planned settlement of hundreds of TWIA hurricane Ike claims.

The Mostlyn law firm has several media releases from 7/13-7/16/10 here:

http://www.mostynlaw.com/media/media-news.asp

The Merlin Law group has a new blog up with more details here:

http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/2010/07/articles/hurricane-ike/texas-windstorm-insurer-settles-2400-hurricane-ike-slab-claims/


BP Claim Information Updates through Sunday June 20, 2010

June 20, 2010

The national news is just full of information regarding the status on BP oil claims so I wanted to take a few minutes tonight to post links to some information independent claims adjusters and adjusting firms will be interested in tonight.

First, Worley Adjusting Company  now has information posted on their website that due to the overwhelming number of applications they received, they are temporarily no longer accepting any new applications. View their complete statement here.

Second, the rumor throughout independent adjusting circles is that a second adjusting company has now been deploying adjusters for BP assignments. Here is a link to the GAB Robins website. We have not been able to confirm this directly over the weekend but have heard  this from numerous adjusters. ***Update Monday 6/21/2010- GAB has now confirmed that they are handling and the contact there is the Columbia, SC office- Mr Hubbard. There is a link on their site to office locations for specific info there.

It is our understanding that both firms are paying independent adjusters ( and others with experience unknown) on a daily rate PLUS per diem on an incurred basis for temporary housing. This is a great thing on the housing allowance as insurance companies make no consideration for temporary housing for independents. They provide temporary housing only for staff adjusters. The long term experienced adjusters say the amount of the daily rate is not enough as far as they are concerned in comparison to billing on catastrophe large losses and commercial claims so they are telling me they would not be interested in these BP assignments. Rumor also has it that GAB is paying on an hourly rate plus per diem. The amount I’ve seen would come to slightly more than the daily rate Worley is paying if the amount I was told is accurate.

We will all see how they feel after a major catastrophe as most independents are very displeased with insurance companies reducing fee schedules while at the same time drastically increasing file requirements which I’m hearing on the average take an experienced independent adjusters on average about two more hours per claim to close a file and get management approval.

Should this be the case. this is a good indication that possibly many more independent adjusters will be deployed to assist with the now 61,000 claims of which BP is stating they now have while only about 31,000 of these BP claimants have now been issued an advance.  Here is a link to the June 19, 2010 BP report advising they now have 33 claim offices set up with 1,000 people working in the claims offices. I’d like to say they are all licensed adjusters but I can’t verify that and have heard from some of the adjusters who are deployed that there were unlicensed people in their induction meetings. In CEO Tony Haywards prepared testimony to Congress on page 8 he stated as of that date that 700 adjusters had been deployed and states 600 of those were experienced.

  To compare this assigned adjuster response to hurricane season, I wrote a blog the other day showing that over 12,000 emergency adjuster licenses had been issued in 2005 and over 17,000 in 2004 in FL alone. This does not take into account the regular permanent licensed adjusters and the non resident adjusters who worked those 2 hurricane seasons in FL. Here is also a link to an article post Hurricane Ike on the number of claims adjusters assigned in TX.

The same 6.19.2010 BP update above also states BP has received about 84,000 calls into their call center. Now compare this to news coming out of Houston where the BP call center is set up quoting them as having received over 200,000  calls about claims and quoting some of the 100 BP phone operators as saying the call center is just a diversion and the calls go nowhere . See this second article  by Huffington Post with video quoting a BP operator  as well saying the call center is just a diversion.

Florida Insurance Commissioner, Alex Sink, who is currently running for Florida Governor also jumped into the act on BP claims per these articles  here and here coming out of the Pensacola, FL area where she went into the Pensacola, FL BP claims office with a claimant and news camera in tow. The part I surely do not understand about that is that BP is self insured first of all but secondly that the article says the claimant was attorney represented so I am not sure why the claims manager even talked to the claimant if his attorney was not present. She next met with a group of business owners in Pensacola to discuss their problems with the BP claims office. I do in fact hope that the insurance commissioners do get involved and that only licensed independent adjusters are able to handle these claims. It is a disservice to all BP claimants to have to work with “claims processors” as Tony Hayward called them when testifying to Congress yet I am not sure that these “claims processors” must be licensed if  BP is self insured.

According to an article about Katie Couric’s interview with Ken Feinburg, it states that $600M in claims have been filed and $71M has been paid out. Friday he promised legitimate claims would be paid within 30-60 days:

“Kenneth Feinberg was chosen to oversee the $20-billion compensation fund promised Friday to pay all legitimate claims quickly – in 30 to 60 days. He spoke with CBS News anchor Katie Couric from Baton Rouge, La.”

For those of you in the claims industry….wouldn’t that be quite a feat? Lawsuits still are being filed in TX over hurricane IKE weekly and we are just approaching the statute of limitiations ( deadline period to file lawsuits on property damage) in FL from hurricane Wilma. The part especially misunderstood about this is how in the world can claims be settled within 60-90 days as stated when they do not even expect the escaping oil to finally be capped until sometime in August and by all reports that is a BIG if !  

Most importantly is that you see this Katie Couric video interviewing the newly appointed Ken Feinburg  who will oversee the $20B BP escrow account announced last week by President Obama. It is very helpful for understanding their planned claims process between the BP escrow account and the 1990 Pollution Act claims process these claims were originally solely being processed under. Also view this CBS news article outlining important other traumatic disaster cases Ken Feinburg has handled to include settlements with the victims family for 9/11 and the Virginia Tech shooting case settlements.

This next Bloomberg article  gives the case citations which says in part:

“The multidistrict case is In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, MDL-2179, Washington. The dispersants case is Parker v. Nalco Co., 2:10- cv-01749, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).”

CNN tonight was interviewing a gentleman providing warning about BP job scams and other warnings about firms showing up to offer to help you for a fee which is not necessary. I in fact ran across something that really bothered me tonight just researching for this claims update. To see it for yourself, go to www.bp.com/claims which is the official site for BP announcements. Remembering the exact website for this incorrectly, I first entered www.bpclaims.com and to my surprise it is a public adjusting firm website that defaults and moves you seamlessly to www.publicadjuster.com . I didn’t even bother to read the public adjuster site but my thinking was how bad that is that some innocent claimant would think that they were designated to handle BP claims which is not the case or atleast I have not heard that BP has hired any public adjusters to handle their claims.

**Additional info added  6/21/2010- I meant to include the following link to a Bloomberg article explaining the 232 class action lawsuits on BP claims will be moved/handled by 1 appointed judge:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601102&sid=aljqY7Nv_AzA

Well, I intended to spend a few minutes updating on the claims status as of 6/20/2010 and now hours later I’ll wrap it up with a  link  to my blog with a prayer and a song to all Gulf Coast residents and recovery workers and adjusters working these claims as promised that I would end every BP blog with this prayer for them:

https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/eternal-father-strong-to-save-a-prayer-for-americans-during-the-bp-gulf-coast-oil-spill-recovery-open-letter-3-to-president-obama-and-admiral-thad-allen/


Galveston Amended Court Order of 1/25/10 on TWIA Deposition on Hurricane Ike Claims

February 17, 2010

I ran across this Amended Court order of 1/25/2010 regarding TWIA Depositions on Hurricane Ike Claims and wanted to provide a copy for our members who may be involved in TWIA Claims litigation: view here


CertainTeed Class Action Settlement? Details in Post along with website info

February 11, 2010

http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/case/certaineed-class-action-roofing-shingle-lawsuit.html?ref=rss

The above link contains information about a class action settlement on the CertainTeed roof shingles.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how many roof totals adjusters have done for shingles not resealing due to the premature wear and tear mentioned in this article. I’m curious if insurance carriers have enough details-doubtful- in their wind/roof claim files to go back and recover through this settlement? Any ideas readers?

For the class action website we previously wrote about, here is a link to our prior blog on this topic:

https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/website-for-certainteed-shingles-class-action-lawsuit/

I double checked CertainTeed’s press releases and there is no news yet posted http://www.certainteed.com/pressroom/


Texas full of claims news! TWIA Adjuster 2010 classes, TX Appraisal update, TWIA Class Action lawsuit from January 2010

February 2, 2010

I’ll start with a link to the released Texas windpool Adjuster 2010 class schedule for any adjusters seeking attendance. Our notice came through Crawford and Company who did ask in their email that you notify them when you have completed the class so I’d send them your resume if you haven’t already and plan to take the TWIA class:

http://www.twia.org/Portals/0/Documents/WS_Reg_Form.doc

We have posted links to this site before which updates weekly on new Hurricane Ike lawsuits and in January they made  a post about a new class action lawsuit on behalf of 210 Texas residents against Texas Windpool (TWIA). Here’s a link to that posting:

http://www.setexasrecord.com/news/224259-200-bolivar-peninsula-residents-file-class-action-against-twia

While your concentrating on TX claim handling issues and classes, here is another great post by Attorney Chip Merlin’s firm on TX appraisal issues you may also wish to view:

http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/2010/02/articles/insurance/recent-court-decision-in-texas-regarding-appraisal/

Update 2/4/10- Special thanks to Chip Merlin for linking to this blog post and recognizing our blog- it is very much appreciated!

http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/2010/02/articles/insurance/sinkhole-coverage-analysis-every-wednesday-and-dimechimes-is-a-good-blog-for-adjusters-to-follow/


National Hurricane Center Changes the way the Saffir Simpson Scale will be used due to Storm Surge stats

June 17, 2009

This was a very interesting article about the 2009 changes to the way a hurricane is categorized using the Saffir Simpson Scale due to problems with the storm surge and hurricane categories. For instance, the article indicates Hurricane Ike came in as a category 2 but the storm surge was equivalent to a category 4 hurricane at landfall. Most interesting are the arguments for and against the proposed 2009 changes in the comment section of this article:

http://weatherblog.abc13.com/2009/06/save-the-saffirsimpson-scale.html

For more details from NOAA National Hurricane Center on the 2009 changes here is a link on the storm surge component of the saffir simpson scale and reasons for the changes:

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutsshs.shtml


Tracking Hurricane Ike Claim Litigation in Southeast Texas drives home the need for Errors and Omissions coverage for adjusters

June 6, 2009

This website posts newly filed insurance claim lawsuits for southeast TX several times each week.

http://www.setexasrecord.com/news/

Click on any of these links to find not only the suits against TWIA but other carriers as well. You’ll note that many of the cases against TWIA include the adjuster and the adjusting firm named in the complaints filed here is just one example:

http://www.setexasrecord.com/news/219283-latest-hurricane-related-insurance-suits-filed-in-jefferson-county

You can track the cases going all the way back to the month Ike hit.

This should drive home the seriousness of carrying E and O these days. We have two other posts on this blog with advice fromwww.cplic.net who specializes in carrying Errors and Omissions coverage advising adjusters should be carrying their own E and O coverage and not relying on coverage by the adjusting firm.

https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2008/02/08/errors-and-omissions-coverage-guest-bloggers-dale-moore-client-relations-director-for-cplic/


Texas Senate Bill No. 14- View the issues- Deals with Claim Disputes and changes to damages allowed on TWIA Claim Disputes

May 21, 2009

Attorney Chip Merlin (consumer advocate attorney)  provides the following two blogs on Texas Senate Bill No. 14 due to some changes proposed on claim dispute handling against TWIA:

http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/2009/05/articles/hurricane-ike/proposed-twia-law-smacks-hurricane-ike-claimants/

Attorney Chip Merlin has a 2nd blog up recommending TX residents take proactive steps to contact their representatives in this blog. Note also in the first link above that Merlin does include a link to the Senate recommended changes on TX Senate bill No. 14

http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/2009/05/articles/state-legislation/what-twia-policyholders-need-to-do-now-to-stop-the-bad-legislation/

 

I did some basic research on the web and the Texas Senate discussion on their passage of this bill  in their website post of April 30, 2009 does not address the changes that Merlin writes about  and I’m sure many others are concerned about:

http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/senate/Archives/Arch09/p043009a.htm

Now to see if we can find some opinions on this from the TWIA side……………

Here is what the TX Department of Insurance currently has up on their website about complaint resolution process with TWIA:

http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/consumer/storms/cpmtwiaclaims.html#resolving

****

Update 8:30 AM- I no sooner got this blog up then Merlin posted an update on the activities on this legislation from the House side along with a link to a San Antonio, TX news article on the House action on their counter bill:

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/45551952.html

http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/2009/05/articles/state-legislation/texas-house-representatives-pass-bad-insurance-bill-they-have-not-read/

*****

Update once again 10:30 am cst- Merlin provides a 4th blog about TX House version of the bill -here’s his post:

Merlin sends a 4th blog link out about some of the language disappearing from the House version that passed:

Summary:
After reading what actually passed, the House Committee seems to have struck all of the Senate language concerning 2210.552, and then added a new subsection (on page 36 of its 51 page bill) which reads : SECTION 40. Section 2210.552,…

View the entire entry:
http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/2009/05/articles/insurance/not-so-fast-on-calling-the-texas-house-bill-badthe-bad-language-mysteriously-disappears/index.html

Dern! I don’t want to be in violation of linking too often to a site- WordPress emailed a few weeks ago about limiting links to others sites too often so I do have to be careful!


Just a ClaimSmentor Moment #5- TWIA Roof Damage position the next issue in Ike Claim Litigation?

March 20, 2009

 

We have a rare minute today to get up a link to a series of blogs done by Insurance Consumer Advocate, Chip Merlin on his blog regarding issues he feels surround a policy by the Texas Windpool (TWIA) on Ike handling issues concerning their position on wind blown debris under shingles preventing them from sealing properly. Read his several posts done this week here:

View the entire entry:
http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/2009/03/articles/hurricane-ike/physical-direct-loss-caselaw-and-twias-roofing-memo/index.html


Guest Blog by Ray Hauser of ClaimSmentor-Ray Shares His Personal Story in our “Luck Where Preparation Meets Opportunity Series”

March 17, 2009

 

 

Claims Education Magazine published my article in 2008   “Luck…where Preparation meets Opportunity”.

To continue with our strong recommendation that newly licensed adjusters seek reputable training opportunities that are recognized in our industry, Ray is a prime example of  what independent trainee adjusters are going through to get a foot in the door for adjusting assignments.

Here is Ray’s story on the long  journey post license to fill in the squares due to  insurance company and adjusting firm requirements before he can receive assignments. Ray, we appreciate your time contributing to this series of articles. I thoroughly enjoyed your participating in our January/February 50 Hour Fundamentals of Property adjusting course. 

This article link will also remain on our Guest Blog page above with all other entries by contributing bloggers. I do think it is important to highlight what those wanting a career in claims can expect  (from the independent side) and we have several interesting blogs by others when they were new in the field. If I asked Ray what he has spent thus far on licensing, rope and harness classes, and all of his other course fees plus transportation and lodging, I would guess he is in the 7,500 to 10K range. I see this regularly thus my push on looking for other sources for this education.

                  Getting Started in Adjusting by Ray Hauser

 

After I completed my 4 day licensing course I became aware very quickly that the process of finding work may be just a little harder than what I had expected. Many of my fellow course-mates fell by the wayside believing the task was next to impossible. Company after company stated on their websites that they required either a  4 year degree, or at least 2 years of experience, neither of which I had. Here I am, just a few months down the line, with a totally different perspective in terms of what it takes to find a job. What’s changed? Knowledge! The claims companies want knowledge, and they need to know you have the ability to settle a claim and leave the insured with a good experience. Knowledge and customer service drive this train! We adjusters have to understand that the claims companies are not going to hand out jobs to people with just a 4 day crash course in insurance and a 3 day course in Xactimate! That kind of knowledge is only the starting point. So the question becomes, “What else do I have to do, and where do I go to get it?” Of course it’s always beneficial if you start with some construction and customer service experience. I’m a new adjuster too, so believe me when I say “I don’t have all the answers”. But here’s my opinion.

 

First, you should register on web sites that offer information that can help you build your resume.

 

There’s no better place to go than to ClaimSmentor.  Here’s a website that’s a source of information not readily found anywhere else. Anything to do with insurance is found right here. The gal that runs it, Debbie Moroy (debbie@dimechimes.com), has dedicated her life to training new people. She started her career in 1973 with State Farm, and started the adjusting aspect of it over 26 years ago. Who better to learn from? Reading her resume is like reading a dictionary:

 

State Farm Basic, Intermediate, Commercial, and Management Schools. Vale Tech Residential Estimatics,Haag Roofing School, Georgia Arson Fraud School, many others too numerous to list. Have all 5 State Farm certifications to include wind, estimatics, commercial, earthquake, etc.. Have completed IIA, AIC, and 9 parts of CPCU.

 

Because of her reputation in the industry and the fact that she’s so well respected, and knows so many people after these many years, it’s my opinion that having her knowledge as your foundation in claims adjusting is absolutely paramount and priceless!

 

Once you’re registered on her site, you have access to up to the minute information on certification courses, other website links, insurance industry news bulletins, magazine articles, and far too many other items for me to list here. Everyone getting started should take her 50 hr Fundamentals of Property Claims course. In that course you’re taught : Contents Claim Handling Guidelines, Additional Living Expense Claim Handling, Condo Master and Condo Unit-owner Claims , File Documentation Requirements , Carrier Service Standard Expectations,  Insured/Agency Communications, and so much more. “ The class is designed to fill in major gaps of important things you need to know. The course does not cover the estimate software programs and scoping classes but concentrates on the majority of other things that are a must to know before you handle your first claim. You cannot go out in the field and “wing it” and learn as you go when dealing with consumers who have bought a policy expecting “above and beyond” service”.Then, you use the information from that course and on that website to move forward in your search for more certifications and courses.

 

Another very good idea is to get as many licenses from as many different states as you can. That way, if a hail storm hits Georgia, and you have a Non-Resident license for that state, you can be used to work the storm without having to wait for a state declared emergency. You become far more valuable to the claims companies than other adjusters only having one license from their State of Residency. Sircon is a great site for acquiring other licenses for a nominal fee. In most cases, another licensing test is not required.

If possible, pair up with another adjuster you’ve met at your local Claims Association or elsewhere, and mentor with them for a short time. 

 

Immediately after I got my license, Hurricane Ike hit the Gulf coast states. Everyone was in demand. I worked a number of claims for The Mission Group  in Beaumont, Texas. Fortunately, I had a great CEO with a lot of patience. I’d partnered up with somebody who had procured the job, but had about as much experience as I had. Ultimately, the number of mistakes we made was embarrassing. But Mr. Phil Spotts went into the training mode and demonstrated the finest managerial traits I’ve ever witnessed. To this day he’s still a hero of mine! Talk about performing under pressure by training a couple of newbies in the art of adjusting. It was a pleasure to witness, yet embarrassing to be a part of. 

 

Shortly thereafter, I joined a couple of other course-mates and proceeded to take a Two Story/ Steep Roof Rope and Harness course from Kevin Kramer  (k.squared@earthlink.net) in Montgomery, Texas ( great course!). Apparently, for those that have that certification, they’re the first to be called out and the last to leave because they can handle all roofs, not just the easy ones. Kevin also sells an OJT Training Manual that has lots of very good information in it concerning construction, scoping, roof calculations, roof pictorials, estimating interior damage etc etc. It’s a very good manual to have in your library when you’re trying to gain knowledge.

 

Another great manual to have is one published by Richard Beckner . He gives in depth details and step by step instructions in using Xactimate. It truly is geared for the adjuster having problems in using the software. It’s one of the best manuals I have. It can be accessed at: www.learnxactimate.com .

 

After my R & H course we proceeded to Pilot Catastrophe Services Inc. in Grande Prairie, Texas, hoping to acquire a successful evaluation, then 4 days of additional training in Allstate, Integriclaim, and NextGen.

 

 I’ve just completed a Citizens certification class in my search for a job in Daily Adjusting here in Florida, and I have 4 more certifications scheduled.

 

So, in summary, you need to have knowledge that you didn’t pick up on your licensing course. Knowledge like measuring roofs, replacing the shingles with the appropriate amount of waste rounded up to the nearest shingle bundle, replacing or repairing fencing…..depreciated or not depreciated? What are the important things you have to ask the insured when you’re making first contact and arranging an inspection? If you can’t answer these questions, you just need to take the appropriate training. It’s all out there. You just have to access it. 

 

Family members have asked, “Who will I work for?” The answer to me is obvious. I’ll work for anyone wise enough to hire me, because I’m going to be prepared by being ready to go to work, educated enough to do the job, and wise enough to only hand in great claims. I’ll get my local adjuster in town to preview my work if I have to. But my claims will absolutely be as good as anyone’s.  I am not going to be the first one to go home after a storm because of my shoddy work.  And hopefully, I’ll be one of the last ones working the storm!

 

           

Ray Hauser, Port Orange (Daytona Beach), Florida

********************************************

 

To View more information about independent adjuster Ray Hauser, you can view his Linkedin Profile here.

To Join our Claims Industry Group, you can view our Linkedin Profile here.

 

********************************************

Ray we thank you for sharing your story and also for your testimonial about the ClaimSmentor online claim mentor group. Deb