MS Homeowners Insurance Bill of Rights

2007-15  Bill of Rights



1-2015





1-2014

 Senator Tindell dropped the bill SB2158 however it dose not look good. Lt Governor Tate Reeves, despite stating he supported the legislation, is not backing the bill. I asked him for a 5 minutes phone call to pitch the merits of the bill and his answer was "NO". Below is a letter to the editor in the Sun Herald

Title: Lt Governor Tate Revees denied homeowners 5 minutes

After Hurricane Katrina thousands of homeowner's houses were reduced to a slab. Most were denied their homeowners claim by the insurance companies. Homeowners were forced to to take the insurance companies to court in which the MS Supreme Court found the that the insurance company has the "burden of proof" to prove a policy exclusion to deny a homeowners claim.

Since the court ruling we have filed a bill to have the courts ruling codified in to law to prevent the insurance industry from taking the ruling back to court with the goal to over turn or weaken the language. The bill has been denied a vote in the Senate Insurance Committee since 2007.

This year I have ask Lt. Governor Tate Reeves to give me a 5 minute phone call to pitch the merits of the legislation. His answer was no. His assistant stated (Quote) Kevin, unfortunately the Lt. Governor will not be available for a call in the immediate future. He has directed me to handle any questions or concerns that you may have. As always you can reach me at 601 359 3344

Now the stage is set for the court ruling to be appealed. In the court case Minor vs USAA, Minor won the case when the insurance company failed to prove the exclusiion. USAA is now in position to appeal the ruling and I promise you their  goal will be to weaken or overturn the MS Supreme Courts initial ruling. If USAA appeals and win……Mississippi homeowners lose.

After Katrina thousands of homeowners lives were destroyed by the power of Katrina, then again by their insurance company and Tate Reeves cannot spare 5 minutes. Homeowners, and I mean all homeowners, beware!

The stage is set for the insurance companies to challenge a very important court ruling that would help any homeowner who is wrongfully denied a claim, and your Lt Governor cannot spare 5 minutes.

TATE'S STATEMENT WHEN ASKING FOR OUR VOTE:


Reeves:Treasurer Reeves believes protecting policyholders is a critical component of the Mississippi Insurance Department's mission, and the best way to ensure a living, working document through a bill of rights is accomplished through regulation, not legislation or litigation.

Mr. Reeves would not oppose legislation that codifies existing case law holding that an insurer has the burden of proving by the preponderance of the evidence that any exclusion in an "all perils" homeowners policy applies to the cause of action.

WE ASKED TATE TO SIGN THIS LETTER....THE ANSWER WAS "NO"

   
 


We asked Tate Reeves to sign this letter to Senate Insurance Committee Members. HIS ANSWER WAS NO AGAIN.

Re: SB2158 - Burden of Proof


Dear  Senate Insurance Committee Members:


When hurricane Katrina roared across the state of Mississippi in 2005 over 60,000 homes were destroyed and in most cases, reduced to only a slab. Insurance companies denied most homeowners claims by stating the damage was caused by water which is not covered in a homeowners’ policy.


In 2007, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled the insurance company has the “burden” to prove an exclusion in the policy or they are obligated to settle the claim. This ruling was consistent with a 1972 court ruling after hurricane Camille in 1969.
Since the court ruling legislation has been filed to codify the courts language in to the MS Code.

I support this legislation because I believe the courts are correct in placing the burden on the insurance company. The homeowner has no role in how policy language is written, hiring the claims adjuster and deciding if a claim is paid or denied. Additionally, codifying the courts language would protect all homeowners in the state when there homeowners claim is wrongly denied, not just homeowners on the gulf coast. Since we are adopting the courts language, insurance companies will have a difficult time attacking the legislation

There are two other benefits to Mississippi homeowners if SB2158 is passed:
    1•    Homeowners rates will not increase by adopting this court ruling to legislation. Insurance companies cannot justify a rate increase base on a court ruling or legislation. The only way homeowners rates could increase is if insurance companies would have to pay more homeowners claims. I believe this was the intent of the MS Supreme Court.
   2 •    Any court ruling can be over turned or have the language weakened on appeal. In the case of USAA vs Minor the jury decided USAA did not meet the “burden of proof” and awarded the verdict to Minor. This a clear example where “burden of proof” worked for the homeowner but also set the stage for an appeal. Codifying SB2158 would prevent these appeals from happening and most importantly not allow the insurance companies to recycle the ruling as they did after in Katrina when the initial court ruling was established after Camille.


In closing, this legislation will protect homeowners being stuck between the insurance companies and the courts and afford them swifter justice when their homeowner’s claim is wrongly denied. I would appreciate your support in passing SB2158


Lt Gov. Tate Reeves said he would not sign this letter


6-25-2013


Dear Supporters:

Update: I have decided to go to Jackson for the opening of the special session to ask Governor Bryant for a vote. I plan to walk around the Capitol with the attached sign. I know its a long shot but we have no chance of getting a vote in the Senate Insurance Committee and the Governor is our only hope.

I will ask the governor to add SB2225 to this session and I am convinced if we get a vote in the Senate it will pass. Our only hope is go around the insurance lobby and straight to the Governor. The million dollar question is will Gov Bryant do the right thing and give MS Homeowners a vote for stronger rights. His aids said "no" when I asked last month.

The following quote made by Chip Merlin sums up perfectly why I am still fighting and am the last homeowner standing:
Chip Merlin: In the end, Corban was a victory for policyholders, but a hollow victory because it came far too late for most Katrina victims to benefit from it. During the four years from the time Katrina obliterated the gulf coast to the date Corban was released, those who lost everything were further victimized by insurers that manipulated words or phrases in complex and difficult to understand policies to wrongfully deny and underpay millions in claims. Homes and businesses were lost and lives changed; there is no way to calculate the true devastation. Unless you have lost everything and have had your insurance denied, it is hard to comprehend how frustrating being embroiled in a sea of insurance lawyers can be—it is a curse at best.

Please call the Governor's office at
(601) 359-3175 and ask him to give us a vote on SB2225 and pass the attach letter on to everyone you know. I have also CC all the emails you need if you wish to email our elected officials.

If anyone can sponsor the attached ad in the Sun Herald (Full page $474) or Clarion Ledger (Full page $6000), please let me know.


Thanks,










3-24-2013

We have sent a letter to Gov Phil Bryant to request SB2225 be added to a Special Session should he call one. See the letter HERE

I will post his response when I get one. Mike Chaney and Tate Reeves have said they will not support or sign the letter on behalf of Homeowners in MS.


2-27-2013




2-12-2013

Bad news! SB2225 died in the Senate Insurance Committee without a vote again. Chairman Carmichael brought it up for a vote but the Committee voted to table the bill. They use this maneuver so they do not have to show their true loyalty to the insurance lobby. I did address the Committee but only 3 committee members showed up. Here is a summary of my comments. I have started reaching out to supporters to raise funds. My plan is to run ads in each committee member 's hometown newspaper at the start of next legislative session. The Sun Herald story was the only press we got locally and one in South Carolina. I submitted an opinion to each newspaper in the state as well. Below under each committee member's name is there 2015 Campaign Report they filed with the SOS.




Chairman Carmichael
2012 Contributions

                                  

                       nbrowning@senate.ms.gov         tbrown@senate.ms.gov             bclarke@senate.ms.gov           ddawkins@senate.ms.gov
                           
                          2012 Contributions                     2012 Contributions                       2012 Contributions                     2012 Contributions

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                        

  kjones@senate.ms.gov           wlongwitz@senate.ms.gov       dkirby@senate.ms.gov             tsmith@senate.ms.gov

                      
                         2012 Contributions                   2012 Contributions                 2012 Contributions                      Supporter


                                               
  
                           ahill@senate.ms.gov              dsimmons@senate.ms.gov            jhorhn@senate.ms.gov       rparks@senate.ms.gov

                             Supporter                              2012 Contributions                        2012 Contributions             2012 Contributions

   
 1-22-2013

Senator Tindell filed our bill SB2225 for the 2013 Session. Our first goal is to get the bill out of Jud A and get it before the Insurance Committee. I will keep you posted.


August 14, 2012

Click HERE to view Info-Commercial about our fight to win a vote in the Senate Insurance Committee



July 23,2012:

I have a promise from the Senate Insurance Chairman Sen. Carmichael to give me 5 minutes to address his Committee. Sen.Tindal has agreed to file the bill in the Senate and Chairman Chism will give us a vote if we can get it out of the Senate. I appreciate the support from Chairman Chism and Carmichael. As I have said before, for legislation that would help every homeowner in the state, this has never got a vote in the Senate.


April 4, 2012


HB449 failed in the Senate Insurance Committee again: Committee Members failed to give us a vote

See Sun Herald Story and comments from Commissioner Chaney and Lt. Governor Tate Reeves. Special thanks to Rep. Bennett for sponsoring the billl and being instrumental on gaining support from the House Members and Committee Members.

March 16, 2012:

HB449 Passed the House 116 -3 Tuesday. We are now focusing on convincing the Senate Committee Chairman Carmichael to give us a vote. The bill has died here the past (5) years but I am hopeful the support of Lt. Governor Tate Reeves will make a difference.

March 2012 Update: 

HB449
Has passed out of Jud A and the House Insurance Committee. We are now waiting for full House vote. Once passed the House, I wil ask Lt. Gov Tate Reeves to give us his full support to help us get a vote in the Senate.


Jan 2012 Update:

For the 2012 Session Commissioner Chaney and  Rep. Bennett wil file the "Burden of Proof" Legislation. House Insurance Committee Chairman Rep. Chism returned my call and we had a nice discussion about the bill. He voted against the bill last session in the House vote, but I got the feeling he is open to reconsider the bill or at best, give us a vote. I made my case about how adopting the court rulings as a "point of law" it would prevent insurance companies from challanging the courts ruling after each disaster and cause homeowners to be caught in the middle and have their claims not paid or fairly evaluated.


                                                         
                                    Rep. Bennett                        Sen. Carmichael                     Rep. Chism
                                                                           Senate Insurance Chairman             House Insurance Chairman
 


                                                                                                                                            

October 2011: 

Update: We have gained the support of several key candidates for the 2011 elections. Click HERE to read official statements.

 


 Jan 2011 Update:

Rep Jones has filed our Homeowners Rights legislation for us this session. Click here to read bill. Below are comments he made in the Sun Herald.
 
(Update) HB203 has passed out of committee and passed the House 89-26. Several coast lawmakers voted against the bill. Click HERE to see how they voted. Now the fight will be in the Senate.

View recent news story on HB203 Here in the Sun Herald:
      
“One I have is the one that has in the past been called the Insurance Policyholders Bill of Rights,” Jones said. “It’s a stripped-down version of legislation going back to the session immediately following Katrina …. After many of us have worked on it for several sessions, now it primarily is a clarification of burden of proof.… When a company writes a policy, they have a list of exclusions. Whenever a claim is denied, they typically cite one or two of these exclusions. This bill says if the companies refuse to pay, they have the burden of showing that was actually what happened. That may sound basic to most people, and the (federal) 5th Circuit and Mississippi Supreme Court have ruled that way, but it has still been heavily litigated, and costs people a lot of money in legal fees, when it should be a settled point of law. … Who else but an insurance company should explain why they are not paying on a claim?”

 Update: 3-2-2011

 HB203 "Burden of Proof" has cleared two Committees in the House and has cleared the full House 89-26. The focus now is to get a vote in the Senate Insurance Committee. Chairman Eugene Clarke has not allowed a vote on "Homeowner's Rights Bills" in the last (4) legislative sessions. I have asked Chairman Clarke for a vote but he has not said yes to date. 

5-2-2011

 Dear Supporters:

 Our bill died in the Senate Insurance Committee in 2011 without a vote.  

 My biggest concern is when another storm hits us the insurance companies will challenge the "burden of proof" ruling by the MS Supreme Court in Corbin vs USAA, which they may use as a tactic to delay and deny claims, a pattern we have seen before. If HB203 is allowed a vote and passed, it would become law and this will defeat this deny and delay maneuver.
 
Special Thanks to House Chairman Robinson, Rep. Brandon Jones, Rep Diane Peranich, Senator Baria, The Sun Herald, United Policy Holders,  and WLOX for all their help. The Insurance Lobby won last year. The score is Insurance Lobby 5; People 0.

  Update: 3-2-2010

  HB203 "Burden of Proof" has cleared two Committees in the House and has cleared the full House 89-26. The focus now is to get a vote in the Senate Insurance Committee. Chairman Eugene Clarke has not allowed a vote on "Homeowner's Rights Bills" in the last (4) legislative sessions. I have asked Chairman Clarke for a vote but he has not said yes to date. 
 

Dear Supporters:

 Our bill died in the Senate Insurance Committee in 2010 without a vote.  

 My biggest concern is when another storm hits us the insurance companies will challenge the "burden of proof" ruling by the MS Supreme Court in Corbin vs USAA, which they may use as a tactic to delay and deny claims, a pattern we have seen before. If HB203 is allowed a vote and passed, it would become law and this will defeat this deny and delay maneuver.
 
Special Thanks to House Chairman Robinson, Rep. Brandon Jones, Rep Diane Peranich, Senator Baria, The Sun Herald, United Policy Holders,  and WLOX for all their help. The Insurance Lobby won last year. The score is Insurance Lobby 5; People 0.

   
The 2010 Legislative Session saw some success with HB563 passing the House 107-7. However the bill was not allowed a vote in the Senate and died. Click here to see who is against us.  Please take time to call and email the Senate Committee Insurance Members and ask them support giving us a vote on homeowner insurance rights.

Senate Committee Members

dkirby@senate.ms.gov, tbrown@senate.ms.gov, bdearing@senate.ms.gov, jhorhn@senate.ms.gov, kjones@senate.ms.gov, tking@senate.ms.gov, mwatson@senate.ms.gov, lyancey@seante.ms.gov, bclarke@senate.ms.gov, bturner@seante.ms.gov, bhews@senate.ms.gov, ddwakins@senate.ms.gov,

 Commissioner Chaney; mike.chaney@mid.state.ms.us

Moving Mountains story.......click here

Insurance reforms dead story.....click here

Interview with bettermsreport.com.....click Here

11-6-2010:

Update. The Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of my FOI Case. I was especially disappointed that they did not address the mis-use of Conduct Exam records by Former Commissioner George Dale. They acknowledged Commissioner Chaney has the authority to release the information in the 43,000 files MID requested, but I would not expect that to happen. This was setback, but I will fight on. I will continiue to try and convince Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and Senator Hewes this legislation deserve a vote in the Senate.

2-28-2009

Chaney's was successful in getting the case dismissed before a judgement was made, so we have appealed to the Supreme Court. United Policy Holders Organization has covered the court fee and Edward Gibson of Bay St. Louis is filing the appeal. We should win the appeal because a "geniun material of fact of dispute" was established in the hearing. My sense is Chaney does not want to disclose the information in the Conduct Exam files because he knows it would cause a public out-cry. Click Here to view the hearing transcripts.

Update 2-28-2009

I have filed a lawsuit against MID to report the homeowners claims information under MDOI 83-1 Regulation. To read the suit click HERE

Chaney's attorney made a late filing to have the case moved to Hinds County. My new court date is Aug 31st. Guess they did not like their chances in Harrison County where the hurricane hit the hardest.

Our arguments have been filed in the Supreme Court for the Case against Chaney. We are waiting for a hearing date.

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