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.
The sad truth is that all policyholders living along Coastal areas face exactly the same wind versus water fight with their insurers that happened in Katrina. Indeed, in Florida, the revised Valued Policy legislation and recent Florida Supreme Court decisions make it inevitable that more Floridian policyholders will have to litigate these issues. Maybe I should not complain, but there is a societal insurance problem along the Gulf and Eastern Coasts which is simply being ignored because the focus is upon corruption charges against Dickie Scruggs and others.
Eventually the sad stories of policyholders not being paid, and the problems of insurers being allowed to change wording in their policies to make "all risk" coverage more like "your risk" coverage, will be played out again. It is winter and hurricanes can seem a long time away. The sensational stories of corruption and the falling economy are in the minds of everyone. The insurance industry has once again escaped meaningful reform. Meanwhile, we are still just a Katrina away from another insurance disaster because those that make policy have shifted focus to other matters without first correcting problems from the past.