Monday, January 23, 2012

2011 Disasters Impact Insurance Markets

The Insurance Information Institute has released a presentation on how the near-record breaking disasters in 2011 will impact the property/casualty insurance industry.  Containing detailed, updated numbers for global and U.S. catastrophe losses and the most up-to-date economic information and underwriting and investment performance data, the presentation focuses on four key aspects of the property/casualty insurance market: underwriting; surplus/capital/capacity; reinsurance market conditions; and renewed pricing discipline. The report notes that there were a record $380 billion in global economic losses globally in 2011 and $105 billion in insured losses.  The presentation is made, as usual, by Robert Hartwig, President of the Insurance Information Institute, and was presented recently to the Insurance Federation of New York.  Dr. Hartwig will be one of the speakers at the American Bar Association's Section on Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice's Disaster Preparedness and Response program on Disasters Caused by Terrorist Acts, which will take place in Chicago, on August 3, 2012.  For more information about this program and TIPS Disaster Initiative, please click here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

FEMA Head Urges Use of Private Sector

Yesterday, at the International Disaster Conference & Expo in New Orleans, FEMA Administrator, Craig Fugate, told the audience that the government needs to stop thinking it can handle all aspects of a disaster and make sure the private sector is included in disaster planning and response.  His remarks are summarized in the linked article, click here.

Administrator Fugate's public/private partnership idea fits neatly with what the ABA's Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice Section has been doing with its Disaster Preparedness and Response Initiative throughout the 2011-2012 year.  Coincidentally, TIPS' next Disaster Initiative program will be in New Orleans on February 3, with two expert panels on disasters caused by acts of negligence.  Click here for details.

The public/private partnership for addressing disasters makes perfect sense.  Many business groups have disaster initiatives (see our links below on the bottom of this Blog page), as do many professional associations like the ABA.  FEMA and the government are skilled in certain aspects of disaster preparedness and response, while the private sector resources are skilled in areas where the government may not have the resources.  Protocols need to be established at the local, regional, state, and national level for both public and private cooperation in responding to disasters.

What are some of your ideas for doing this?  Who has seen this work and how did it work?  Let's have your comments.

For more information about the TIPS Disaster Initiative and to attend our programs or access our materials, please click here.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

TIPS Disaster Preparedness Public Service Project in New Orleans

Disasters can strike at any time and it is important to be prepared in advance.  One way to be prepared in advance is to use a checklist to organize important papers and information and to prepare a "go bag" of essential items necessary to survive a disaster.  There are lots of examples of checklists at the websites of the organizations listed on this Blog Page at the bottom left. 

As part of the American Bar Association's Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice Section's Disaster Initiative activities at the ABA Mid-year Meeting in New Orleans, TIPS is presenting a series of programs focusing on Disasters Caused by Acts of Negligence on February 3, 2012 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Additionally, a Community Service Project will be held on February 4, 2012, at Bonart Playground in the Ninth Ward where a Dog Vaccination Clinic will take place from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  The Clinic will offer free microchips, low cost vaccinations, free spay/neuter vouchers, and the opportunity for attendees to speak with trainers who will be on-site.  The Dog Vaccination Clinic is sponsored by the TIPS Animal Law Committee and co-sponsored by the TIPS Public Service Committee, Best Friends Animal Society and the Sula Foundation.
 As part of the TIPS Disaster Initiative, a folder with a Disaster Preparedness Checklist for families and pet owners will be distributed at the Dog Vaccination Clinic.  The folder will include a Flash Drive for families and pet owners to use to save the important documents described on the checklist in the event of a disaster.  the Flash Drive has been generously donated by TIPS Sponsor UnitedLex.

It is too late to prepare for a disaster after it strikes, you need to be prepared ahead of time. Like the earthquake kits in California, TIPS hopes the disaster preparedness checklists and Flash Drive will be helpful to the families and pet owners of the Ninth Ward. We encourage those TIPS members attending the ABA's Mid-year Meeting in New Orleans to signup as a volunteer and visit the Ninth Ward on Saturday, February 4th.  Transportation will be provided.  As a volunteer you have a choice of two hour time slots starting at 11:00 a.m.  Sign up at the TIPS registration desk at the Mid-year Meeting. You are also encouraged to attend the CLE programs on Friday, February 3rd.

For more information about TIPS' Disaster Initiative, click here. For more information about this TIPS Public Service Project, click here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Global Disasters the New Normal?

The press is reporting on a UK think tank paper about global disasters and how to prepare for them.  Chatham House has issued a lengthy paper (Preparing for High Impact Events) that comes with an executive summary and podcast.  The study found that with the rash of disasters, the global economy could withstand a major disaster (natural or man-made) for only about a week.  Sobering news.

Clearly disaster preparedness and response is critical to maintaining economies, businesses, communities, and families faced with disaster.  Preparedness helps ready for and mitigate against a disaster.  Response provides the resources necessary to deal with the disaster and mitigate the finanicial and physical damage to property and life.  The ABA's Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice Section has been focused on Disaster Preparedness and Response during this year with teleconferences, podcasts, and live programs aimed and providing information, awareness, and vision to disasters of all kinds.  Program information from the teleconferences is available at West LegalCenter.  Podcasts are available at TIPS' Disaster Initiative Page and on the podcast page of this blog.  Program materials from live conferences will also become available, but the upcoming conferences in New Orleans in February, Charleston, SC in May, and Chicago in August are great ways for TIPS members and others interested in disaster preparedness and response to learn and expand the skill sets necessary to combat what the Chatham House folks predict is the new normal.

For more information, please click here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Interview with Kenneth Feinberg

In an interview with Catherine Dunn of Corporate Counsel, Kenneth Feinberg discusses his views on special masters and tort reform.  As a special master of some of the largest funds established post-disaster, Feinberg expects the criticism that goes with the job. There is a learning curve for each post-disaster fund.  But the statistics evidence the success of these funds and of Feinberg’s efforts in administering these funds. It is the percentage of participation in these funds rather than in the tort/litigation system that illustrate the success of these funds. In a year’s time, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility established by BP after the oil spill, has processed 97% of more than 1 million claims.  In the September 11th fund, 97% of the death claims were resolved through the fund rather than through litigation.

As he discussed in the September Teleconferences hosted by the American Bar Association’s Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice Section, Feinberg does not believe there should be a special court dedicated to handling mass disasters.  Nor should the September 11th fund be replicated, asking why there should be a carve-out for handling the claims of only a few people who have been victims of life’s misfortunes.  He is not an advocate of tort reform, stating that the system works daily in every court in every city, village and town in this country and it works pretty well.

For more on this interesting topic and the upcoming TIPS Disaster Initiative programs at the ABA's Mid-Year Meeting in New Orleans focusing on Disasters Caused by Negligence, including both Katrina and the BP disaster, please visit TIPS Disaster Initiative page and the Mid-Year Program page.  You can listen to a podcast about the Mid-Year Disaster Initiative program and the DP disaster fund for the Deepwater Horizon disaster by clicking hereYou can watch and listen to Feinberg’s discussion of the September 11th Victim’s compensation fund on West LegalEd Center’s archive of the September 11th Disaster Initiative Telecasts.