Louisiana Citizens Insurance Company offers $80 million to settle fines over claim handling delays from Katrina and Rita hurricanes

February 10, 2012

There are numerous articles out this week regarding Louisiana Citizens Insurance company and attempts between all parties involved in settlement negotiations.

This article states that yesterday Louisiana Citizens Insurance Company offered $80 million to resolve this class action suit, Geraldine R. Oubre et al v. Louisiana Citizens in the 34th Judicial District Court in Jefferson Parish , with approximately 18,000 policyholders while approximately 6,500 other claims still are pending at the carrier:

www.houmatoday.com/article/20120209/WIRE/120209535/0/entertainment02

The next article from NOLA.com  of 1/31/12 explains the US Supreme Court refused to delay the judgment against Citizens of Louisiana:

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2012/01/high_court_refuses_to_delay_ci.html

This next article from 2/3/12 discusses the $6 million fees to seize the assets to the sherriff’s office following the Supreme Court 1/31/12 decision:

http://legalnewsgroup.com/2012/02/03/louisiana-citizens-goes-to-u-s-supreme-court/5040

In a different class action titled CHALONA v. LOUISIANA CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE CORPORATION No. 2008-CA-0257. Fourth Circuit, the Louisiana Supreme Court had granted class action to this group as well. For complete details you can view this article which explains how the two class actions may overlap but says in part:

“While it is possible that some individuals could be included as members of both the Oubre class and the instant class, the relief sought in the two cases is not the same.   Thus, a judgment in the Oubre lawsuit would not have the effect of res judicata in the instant suit.   Although the defined classes in the instant case and the Oubre case may overlap, we do not find that the court was manifestly erroneous in denying LCPIC’s lis pendens exception.”

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/la-court-of-appeal/1003260.html

I’ll add articles to this blog as I can locate updated information regarding the settlement of these cases. If you can provide links to court documents or pdf of same, let me know and I’ll add them to this topic. We’d also appreciate any legal counsel who would like to interpret this information into layman’s terms for the rest of us and what impact this will have on other state run insurance companies in the future.

All articles located do say that these fees will be passed on  as assessments to insurance carriers doing business in the state and thus ultimately on to policyholders.

#Update 2/11- Here’s another article discussing the settlement negotiations and criticism for the negotiations being made public:

http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2012/02/10/talks-to-settle-louisiana-citizens-class-action-be?t=regulation-legislation


Filed Court Documents on Class Action filed against Worley and BP by Adjusters on Overtime Issues/Daily Rate- Part II

February 11, 2011

We previously posted about the information learned about a Class Action lawsuit filed on behalf of BP adjusters working oil spill claims.

Here is a link to the original post if you missed it:

https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/adjusters-handling-bp-claims-file-a-class-action-lawsuit-on-two-issues-overtime-pay-and-failure-to-receive-65-of-daily-fee-per-contract/

This post now contains the two Complaints filed by the adjuster seeking to represent the Class of adjusters who worked the claims:

Altier v Worley BP et al gov.uscourts.laed.145020.1.0 This is the Complaint filed seeking Class Action on Overtime Pay Issues although they were independent adjusters working on a daily rate

Alteir v Worley only  This is the Complaint filed seeking Class Action on alleged failure to pay BP Adjusters 65% of the daily rate they received per Adjuster

Thank you to the source who provided the copies of the court documents. We will continue to follow this case and post updates as we learn them as we feel this is a significant case that all carriers and adjusting firms as well as adjusters will follow due to the daily rate/ employee vs independent contractor/ and overtime issues involved.


Must see video of BP’s Ken Feinburg at AL Townhall meeting yesterday- Hope to meet many of you this morning at the Fort Walton Beach Townhall Meeting

January 19, 2011

Here is some must see video footage of the Orange Beach, Alabama townhall meeting held yesterday with BP’s Ken Feinburg:

http://wkrg.com/1204118/

We will be attending today’s townhall meeting along with other independent adjusters in the Florida panhandle this morning being held here today in Fort Walton Beach, FL along with the founder of the Pensacola, FL Gulf Coast Claims Association and several other independent adjusters in the area. I’ll blog on that either later today or tomorrow.

In the meantime, I am putting together an article on the fruitless efforts made by hundreds if not thousands of adjusters like myself who applied to work these BP claims jobs from TX to FL  and were not utilized to work these claims. I have heard from hundreds who have applied and were not used being told that they were saving the experienced adjusters for hurricane season which never did cause damage in 2010. Information I’ve learned from many adjusters who were in the operation says that Ken Feinburg had changed the job title to “evaluator” from “adjuster” when he took over. Why? Is that so non adjusters could work the claims?

We’d like to piece together our side of the BP claims story by hearing from the many of you who applied and did or did not work claims. You can reply to this blog and I’ll approve the comments or if you wish to remain anonymous you can email me at dkmoroy@dimechimes.com and I will not use your name in any article or upcoming blog on the subject.

Thanks!


“The Independent Adjuster and the Oil Spill; Opportunity or a Trap” Guest Blog by CPLIC Risk Management- Errors and Ommissions Coverage for Adjusting Firms and Adjusters

June 22, 2010

Each year since founding ClaimSmentor, I have turned to CPLIC  for advice to share with our members on Errors and Omissions coverage for independent adjusters. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have members of this firm participate on our site. This year is especially important due to the added complications we may be facing this hurricane season with the oil in the gulf coast. I cannot thank them enough for their support providing this information for our members and all of you in the independent adjusting community. Their specialty is dealing only with Errors and Omissions (known as E & O ) coverage for the claims industry.

The following statement to their members is reprinted with permission from the Claim Professionals Liability Insurance Co., a Risk Retention Group created by independent adjusters for the risk management of independent adjusting companies.  See WWW.CPLIC.NET for more details:

Urgent Message from

CPLIC Risk Managment Concerning Oil Spill in Gulf Coast.

The Independent Adjuster and the Oil Spill;

Opportunity or a Trap?

The June 14 edition of the Wall Street Journal ran a full page ad on page A18, the back page of the first section. It outlined how BP wants claimants to file a claim, and their claims philosophy.

This is prior to the meeting at the White House, in which BP put $20 billion into the hands of an independent commission. How that will affect the present operation BP is now running we do not know.

All of us want more work, and we all, probably, would be willing to be involved in this claim settling process. But there are some pitfalls.

At CPLIC, we have analyzed the situation, and would like to offer some insights, suggestions, and comments. Remember, this is all prior to the White House meeting.

The Present Situation

Our understanding is that Worley has been engaged to handle claims on behalf of BP. Crawford & Co. represents Transocean. We are not aware of how the work is being spread between the two, or if it is only BP/Worley that is processing claims at this time.

How the $20 billion fund, now in play, will be handled is anybody’s guess. However, this could mean some opportunity for independents.

Geographical Areas

Obviously, the area covered is the Gulf Coast from Louisiana around to Florida. Considering the number of claims that are going to come out of this spill, you probably do not need to be in that area to be involved.

If you are in that area, here?s a word of caution. Forecasters predict this to be the most active hurricane season since 2005, and the Gulf Coast could very well be affected. If you get a chance to be involved in the BP claims, please be judicious in resources you commit to BP. Remember that a hurricane will also stretch you, and that you have regular clients who depend on you. These situations always stretch and challenge us, but do not get so overloaded that things get out of control. When this happens, the chance of E&O claims goes up. Using resources wisely protects your deductible.

Type of Claims

At first blush, you would think these claims would be third party claims, and so they are. However, determining liability will not be the issue. Damages will be the issue.

Many of these third party claims will handle just like business interruption claims. Make sure you use adjusters knowledgeable in this area. You may also encounter some hull claims, as well as other kinds of property damage claims.

There may not be many first party claims. The pollution exclusion may see to that. There also may be trigger problems. One of our members thinks that fire or explosion may be the trigger. In the end, this may be a decision for a court.

If the claims are first party, you will be working for a carrier, not BP. If there are questions of coverage, do not forget to take a non-waiver, or a reservation of rights. Those cases where you should have reserved rights, and did not, are hard cases to defend. If you are not sure, talk to your principal. If you are still not sure, or cannot get an answer from your principal, reserve your rights anyway. It is better to be safe than sorry.

If there is coverage in your claim, subrogation will be in order. This leads to a potential trap.

The Trap

If you find your regular client base sending you work that leaves you subrogating against BP, and you are taking BP cases in addition, you may find yourself in a conflict of interest situation. Be very judicious in the work you accept.

For those of you doing work for governmental entities in the Gulf area, be especially careful, particularly if your client has a shoreline. They may have cleanup costs, and ask you to handle their subrogation. Certainly, BP will be the target. You may run afoul of Public Adjuster laws.

CPLIC can offer no hard and fast rule here. Be judicious, use good judgment, and err on the side of caution.

What To Do At The Beginning

Even if you take every precaution, you will be sued. We are dealing with a highly politically charged situation. The plaintiff’s bar will be running ads soliciting clients. We will draw some suits. How do we protect ourselves?

This is the situation our insureds and CPLIC faced after Ike/Rita. First remember this is an agency situation. We all understand the principle of agency. In any contracts you sign with clients in association with this (or, if possible, any) work, make sure there is a clause under which the principal agrees to defend and indemnify you, absent a specific count of negligence against you.

This is a partnership here. Make sure your client understands this. Your client wants you on his side when the yelling starts. Do not give the plaintiff?s lawyer the opportunity to separate you. Even if there is a specific count against you, your principal may still defend you, depending upon the allegation.

Make sure you have your lawyer look at the hold harmless agreement in this light. If you need help in this area, contact us.

Closing Comments

What is written above may sound scary. It is not intended to scare. It is intended to make us wise about the opportunities out there, and to prepare us to meet them. It comes out of CPLIC’s six years of experience defending you. And there are opportunities, hopefully for many of us.

As you go forward, let us know of problems you encounter in following our suggestions. If you think we are off base, or missed something, let us know. It will help us serve you better.

K. M. Johns III CPCU, ARM AIM

Risk Management Committee Chair

Major contributors to this article were:

Alan Mayfield & Bruce Mountjoy

All Rights Reserved

© CPLIC 2010

*******

 

Please view their Q & A they did for us in 2009 here. Most importantly note the recommendation that independent adjusters have their own E & O policy for their own protection:

CPLIC 2nd E & O Info

Here is also a link to our first guest in August 2008  blog post by Dale Moore and Michael Hale of CPLIC with additional FAQ:

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

During my 50 Hour Fundamentals of Claims class, we cover Error and Omission Coverage with new adjusters. I am constantly amazed at their answers to questions on adjusters E & O coverage. Most state that they would rely on the coverage of an adjusting firm to protect them. When I question them further, it is interesting to see that I have never had one adjuster be able to tell me who the adjusting firm’s E & O policy is with, what the policy number is, how to contact the E & O carrier, what the E & O policy covers them for, if the E & O policy provides for defense costs for them if they are named individually in a lawsuit. In other words,  they are working without even knowing about their coverage.

In recent years, many carriers, especially state run insurers like Texas Windpool and Citizens Property of Insurance in their RFP 08-0016 had terms stating they did not protect adjusting firms or independent adjusters so they were basically out on their own as far as providing an Answer to a Complaint (lawsuit) which is a costly proposition. I especially disagree with this position as the majority of claims litigation issues post hurricanes Katrina and Ike involved disputes insurance consumers had due to insurance company coverage decisions on wind/ water issues, wind debris to shingle issues, and other coverage or carrier guidelines an independent adjuster is required to follow.  It is long past due that  insurers,  the government,  and now BP and the Ken Feinburg group administering the BP Escrow fund  grant independent adjusting firms  and independent adjusters a  fair and meaningful defense and indemnity agreement.

This guest blog is a great example of what ClaimSmentor is all about. It is not about what I think as a former staff adjuster and claims manager nor about my experience as a participant in the independent claims industry. It is all about bringing together a professional group of reputable resources to provide proper advice and information to the independent claims adjusting community who have a most difficult time gathering current industry information applicable to claims assignments and catastrophe operations except when they are out on assignment.

I urge anyone who does not have their own E & O policy to run not walk to CPLIC to address your questions and check on your own E & O coverage.

Thanks again from ClaimSmentor to CPLIC for allowing us permission to share their 2010 Urgent message with our members.


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

June 15, 2010

President Obama is speaking from NAS Pensacola, FL as I write this. It is the most support I have seen him express to the brave men and woman serving in the US Armed Forces  since he began his Presidency. I am taking this particular speech very personally as my father, my brother, and my brother in law are all buried at Barrancas National Cemetary at NAS Pensacola.  I cannot bear the thought of the memories of our childhood being destroyed with the gulf oil tar nor of disturbing the area so others can  grow up with the same wonderful memories our family shares from the area during our youth when my father was stationed there.

I still  have family in the area including my nephew Ryan who is attending college at the University of West Florida  following in the foot steps of my wonderful father and brother who also attended the University of West Florida in Pensacola, FL. His degree is going to be in the marine industry. He too is watching his dreams disturbed by the worst environmental disaster in Amercian history as he faces unemployment working part time in the beach restaurant industry as a means of income to help cover his expenses while in college.

President Obama- thank you for doing us proud with your military speech in Pensacola and for finally showing our military of all branches the respect and honor they so much deserve. As a military brat as us military children are known as, we do know the sacrifices having watched our fathers depart on Naval aircraft carriers, departing for war, and the fear and sadness we experience as we support our brothers, sisters, neices, nephews, sons, daughters, and our fathers as they protect Amercians at assignments both at home and have to regularly leave us to go abroad to protect us around the world.

I’ll end this thanks with the words of my very favorite navy hymn heard every Sunday growing up on military bases and attending church at military chapels where our father was stationed.  If you really listen and read the words, I think you will agree this song represents all of our prayers for our military, our national guard members, our claims adjusters who will have to work in these coastal environments during hurricane season, and our BP responders constantly exposed to the oil spill tar and disperants as they clean up our beaches and marshlands and experiencing illness as a result. We also extend this as a prayer to all gulf coast residents suffering from this oil spill :

             Eternal Father Strong to Save – Original Version

             The original words are:

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!
O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walkedst on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!
Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!
O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe’er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee 
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

For links to the origins and history and other more modern versions of this song, visit this link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_Father,_Strong_to_Save#Lyrics

**Note the Episcopal version is also very appropriate and shown on the link above

I find the following musical version very comforting at times like these and hope you will enjoy the music and pictorial vision as well:

http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/e/t/eternalf.htm

Please pass this on in hope it brings a focus to the faith that God will protect us and keep us safe. Especially for the families of the victims killed in this BP Oil explosion. Our prayers are with you every single day. Just click on the title to this blog today and you can then copy and paste it into an email to your friends and family suffering through this disaster or serving in recovery efforts.

Respectfully,

Debbie Moroy, AIC,IIA  ClaimSmentor Founder www.claimSmentor.com

 

 

 


Louisiana Citizens- Does anyone understand this AIA recommendation? Would you work claims as an independent adjuster there?

March 29, 2010

AIA  (American Insurance Association ) who represents approximately 300 insurance companies says proposals to abolish Louisiana Citizens  are misguided in this March 18, 2010 article:

http://www.insuranceheadlines.com/Homeowners/6563.html

AIA’s main argument was the need for available insurance in coastal communities. I find this argument interesting in light of the 100 million incentive Louisiana offered as incentive to induce insurance companies to offer insurance in Louisiana as outlined in many articles. Two of the articles are linked below which explain the details of the incentive:

http://www.insurereinsure.com/BlogHome.aspx?entry=223 and this one posted on the Louisiana Department of Insurance website:

http://www.ldi.state.la.us/InsureIncentiveProgram/index.htm

There were also many post Katrina articles about the carriers taking out policies from Louisiana Citizens such as:

Here is a list of several of the carriers who did take out policies from Louisiana Citizens through the incentive program:

http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/business/17179086.html?showAll=y&c=y

40,000 policies removed by six carriers:

http://www.ldi.la.gov/public_affairs/Press_Releases/2008_Press_Releases/10-8-08%2040,000%20Insurance%20Policies%20to%20be%20removed%20from%20Citizens.htm

This seems strange in view of the many articles posted post hurricane Katrina about problems with Louisiana Citizens after Katrina to include but not limited to some of the following issues:

This article just came out March 23, 2010 regarding a former executive pleading guiltyf to theft charges:

http://ifawebnews.com/2010/03/23/former-louisiana-citizens-executive-pleads-guilty-to-theft-charge/

This February 2010 provides more details about the alleged charges against this executive and the trial then upcoming in March 2010:

http://www.autoquotenow.com/auto-insurance-news/state/former-insurance-exec-to-go-on-trial-in-louisiana-2040.php

What about this class action against Louisiana Citizens per this LA Department of Insurance press release on a 17 million dollar settlement for their failure to settle Katrina claims within the statutory deadlines?

http://www.ldi.state.la.us/public_affairs/Press_Releases/2009_Press_Releases/8-19-09%20Citizens%20suit%20press%20conference.htm

This article from April 2009 outlines information about another class action lawsuit against Louisiana Citizens for failure to pay overhead and profit on claims:

http://blog.nola.com/tpmoney/2009/04/a_state_appeals_court_has.html

How about the news the Louisiana Citizens Board approved 35 million to settle yet a different class action lawsuit that involved 30,000 insureds due to poor claim  handling:

http://channels.isp.netscape.com/pf/story.jsp?floc=FF-APO-1333&idq=/ff/story/0001%2F20081114%2F0813395122.htm&sc=1333

This next article discusses a court dismissing a federal case against Louisiana Citizens for  racketeering, money laundering, wire fraud and mail fraud for their own enrichment :

 http://www.nola.com/business/t-p/index.ssf?/base//money-1/1218864023315000.xml&coll=1

In this article regarding disputes between the LA Insurance Dept and the legislative auditor over release of Insurance Dept emails it says:

http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080204/OPINION/802040302/1014

“Jim Donelon, state insurance commissioner, and Steve Theriot, the legislative auditor, are old friends now engaged in a months-old spat over Theriot’s audit of the Department of Insurance. Along with subpoenas, a lawsuit, the occasional snide remark and accusation of wrongdoing, each man has used public hearings to air his grievances about the other. ”

This article from 2007 discussses a major overhaul needed of Louisiana Citizens and citizens outrage over assessements as well as a good explanation about who the members of the Citizens board consists of:

http://blog.nola.com/times-picayune/2007/10/citizens_board_taken_to_task.html

Article discussing Citizens of LA settlement of hundreds of cases of “slabbed” claims from Katrina:

http://fpn.advisen.com/?resource_id=611446981029447447#top

Links to articles about the MAJOR computer glitches and accounting audit nightmares experienced at Louisiana Citizens after Katrina:

http://www.property-casualty.com/News/2007/3/Pages/La–Last-Resort-Insurer-Missing-Audit.aspx

While I don’t know the current status of improvements at Louisiana Citizens, here were a few articles post Katrina showing some good things for adjusters and citizens of Louisiana to include:

Senate Bill No. 183 requiring Lousiana Citizens utilize adjusters and adjusting firms who had been domiciled in the state 5 years or more and was effective in August 2007:

http://legis.state.la.us/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=436266

Most importantly is that Louisiana did not have adjuster licensing requirements at the time of Katrina’s landfall but did begin requirement adjusters be licensed since then. Resources for adjusters seeking resident, non resident licenses, emergency licenses, and more information on the Claims Adjusters Acts should use this link:

http://www.ldi.state.la.us/Licensing/Producer/index.html

Here is more info on Louisiana adjuster licensing from when they initial announced the licensing requirements:

http://www.ldi.louisiana.gov/documents/licensing/adjuster/AdjusterLicensingInLouisiana.pdf

http://www.ldi.louisiana.gov/documents/licensing/Producer/LAClaimsAdjusterAct.pdf

This article had indicated part of the problems were lack of staffing and resignation of an accounting manager leaving no one to answer the audit questions due to the severe computer glitches and problems with accounting:

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southcentral/2007/04/05/78506.htm?ref=feed

Another article says most of the paperwork could not be produced on over 300,000 in expenses:

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southcentral/2007/06/25/81076.htm

While I don’t have more time today to spend on this blog, a good place to start your research on current trends and activities, here is a link to the Board of Governors meeting minutes for the past several years you might want to review before considering taking claim assignments from them. http://www.lacitizens.com/MeetingAgenda.aspx

It is not only the adjusting firm you need to do due diligence on before accepting work but also the carrier you will be assigned to to protect yourself from the ever increasing possibility of delays and non payment issues on fee bills. I study the state wind pools for members of ClaimSmentor as the wind pools often present the greatest opportunity for independent insurance adjuster assignments during major disasters. Only you can decide if you are comfortable working for an adjusting firm or insurance company. We do hope the links posted above  help you make the best possible decision.

Should you decide you do wish to work assignments for them, we have been able to locate only one adjusting firm thus far offering Louisiana Citizens Adjuster Certification and that is AmCat.  Here is a link to their training site offering not only Louisiana Citizens certification but certification for many other carriers:

http://www.adjusterclasses.com/


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