Monday, March 26, 2012

Insurance Industry Concern About Disasters in 2012

The job of the insurance industry is to insure the risk of loss of its policyholders.  So far, with the early storms in 2012, the insurance industry is worried that 2012 will turn into another 2011 or worse.  There have been many articles in the press discussing the affects of disasters on the insurance industry and its insureds.  Here are a couple.  The Columbus Dispatch featured this recent article.  Are the predictions right?  What do you predict 2012 will be?  Will we have more natural disasters than 2011?  As the London Telegraph reports, the Lloyd's insurance marketplace had significant losses from disasters in 2011.  What can you do to be prepared for disaster?  

For more information about disaster preparedness and response, please click here.  Please join us for the American Bar Association's Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice Section's Spring Leadership Meeting in Charleston, SC on May 17 for a great program on disasters caused by acts of nature.  For more information about this program, please click here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

ABA 2012 Workers’ Compensation Midwinter Seminar and Conference

The American Bar Association's Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice Section's Workers’ Compensation and Employers’ Liability Committee, along with the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section, recently presented a captivating seminar in San Antonio, TX, which included a panel on Natural Disasters and Their Aftermath. I was fortunate enough to moderate this panel, which included Bruce Blythe, Chairman of Crisis Management International, David Smith, Divisional Vice President- Risk Management for Family Dollar Stores, Inc. and Sidney Degan, III, Managing Partner of Degan, Blanchard & Nash, New Orleans, LA.

Mr. Blythe, a crisis management expert, addressed traumatic stress injuries created by natural disasters and how to best minimize the extent of these injuries and expedite the employee’s return to work. Mr. Smith spoke about the award winning disaster response plan that he helped Family Dollar implement in 2003. The focus of Mr. Smith’s presentation was having an adequate response plan in place before the natural disaster or traumatic event occurs and “Doing the Right Thing.” Mr. Degan addressed how his law firm and the Louisiana court system dealt with Hurricane Katrina and the handling of ongoing litigation. One of the most interesting aspects to me was how the Louisiana and Federal court systems protected its attorney, plaintiffs and defendants by declaring the days following the disaster “holidays.” This tolled any deadlines, such as the statute of limitations, during the time that the attorneys or pro se litigants were misplaced due to the damage.

I hope you are able to join us at the TIPS Spring meeting in Charleston, SC, May 16-20, 2012. The TIPS Disaster Initiative Program will take place on May 17, 2012.

Click here to find out more about the TIPS Spring meeting.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

One Year Anniversary of Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Disaster

The debris has been cleaned up, but Japan is struggling with the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and reactor failure that occurred last March.  Concerns about the future of nuclear energy and distrust of government are among the long term impacts of the disaster are described in this article in The Atlantic.      At the Spring Meeting of the ABA's Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice Section on May 17 in Charleston, SC, the TIPS Disaster Initiative will have two panels of experts talking preparing for and responding to natural disasters.  Click here for more information.

Should Disaster Claims Processing Be Different?

Bests Week's March 12, 2012 issue has a small news article on page 9 discussing the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' Property and Casualty Insurance Committee voting at its Spring meeting to hold a public hearing on whether the NAIC should create a model guideline for the processing of claims following a natural disaster.  Consumer representatives have called for special guidelines for disaster claims following natural disasters.  They advocate that Cat claims are very different than typical claims and require special handling and guidelines.  Issues like the appropriate duration for consumers to recover full replacement cost of personal and real property, streamlined inventory requirements in the event of a total loss, proper training in the calculation of replacement values, the availability of policy terms and conditions (often lost by the consumer after a natural disaster), and access to claims-related documents are expected to be discussed at the public hearing.

This is an interesting issue and an important one because one-off or routine claims are not under the same pressure as hundreds or thousands of claims resulting from a natural disaster.  Are special guidelines needed?  Any comments from those reading this blog?

At the Spring Meeting of the ABA's Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice Section on May 17 in Charleston, SC, the TIPS Disaster Initiative will have two panels of experts talking about the preparation for and the response to natural disasters.  Among those speaking are the Mayors of Birmingham, Alabama and Charleston, South Carolina, who will talk about how they have dealt with natural disasters, and Ed Collins, the National Director for ProtectingAmerica.org, who will speak from a disaster preparedness and response national perspective and may have some insights from the insurer perspective from his day job at Allstate.  The question of how claims arising from natural disasters are handled will likely be a topic. 

For more information about the TIPS Disaster Initiative and the Spring Meeting in Charleston, please click here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Early March Tornadoes Create Huge Insured Loss Risk

In this linked article, the author discusses the March tornadoes and their devastating affect on the insurance marketplace.  Equcat is stating that this storm season is already running 30% ahead of 2011.  On the insurance front, property rates are rising and excess capacity is being absorbed by the losses.  Carriers are reassessing their geographic diversity.  What all this means is that disaster preparedness is critical and disaster response must be organized and ready.  Was the Midwest and South prepared?  Are the local and regional governments responding well?  Is the federal government responding well?  What will happen when the next round of storms hit?

The latest storms and how local and regional governments prepare for and respond to those storms will be a topic discussed on May 17 at the ABA's Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section's Spring Meeting in Charleston, SC.  For information on how to attend this program featuring national and local elected officials and disaster preparedness experts, please click here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

How Prepared Are We For Cyber Attacks and Other Disasters?

The February 2012 Washington State Bar News had this great article covering cyber attacks and other disasters.  The article focused on the programming put on by the ABA's Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section in Seattle in October 2011 as part of TIPS' Disaster Preparedness and Response Intitative.  The article goes indepth into cyber terrorism and other disasters and quotes from the speakers at the TIPS program.  For those interested in this program, it is available at the West LegalEd Center for viewing and CLE credit.   Just click here.  You can access other completed TIPS Disaster Initiative programs at the LegalEd Center as well.  For more information about upcoming programs, including the programs on disasters caused by acts of nature coming up on May 17, 2012 in Charleston, SC, please click here.