The weather, as usual, made many headlines in Insurance Journal's South Central region in 2020. COVID-19-related lawsuits and transactions with non-standard auto companies also made headlines. Here's a look back at some of the most read stories for the South Central region this year, based on readership statistics:
Timing, direction of Hurricane Laura brings Harvey, Katrina and Rita to mind
Tropical Storm Laura turned into a hurricane on August 25, 2020 – three years to the day after Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the coast of the Gulf of Texas – and is expected to make landfall just days before its 15th anniversary. the widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005. Laura & # 39; s final landfall was also very close to where Hurricane Rita made landfall on September 25, 2005, wreaking havoc on southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.
In a first, State Farm to acquire Texas non-standard auto insurer GAINSCO
Despite its nearly 100-year history, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. Complete the first-ever acquisition of an insurance company when it finalizes the purchase of the Dallas-based non-standard auto insurer, GAINSCO, in a $ 400 million cash transaction in early 2021.
Founded in 1978, GAINSCO specializes in minimum limits for personal car coverage and actively distributes its non-standard personal car products through independent retail agents in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Ohio and Alabama.
Restaurant Suit tests business interruption insurance for coronavirus outages
Oceana Grill, a restaurant in the heart of New Orleans' tourism district, has filed one of the first lawsuits against insurers and asked a state judge for a declaratory ruling that its business interruption policy will cover the damages if it is ordered to close by civil authorities in response to the coronavirus. The lawsuit, filed in March 2020, was tried in mid-December. Judge Paulette R. Irons had previously ruled against a motion for summary judgment filed by Lloyd & # 39; s of London insurers seeking to dismiss the lawsuit.
Houston Rockets will become the first NBA team to sue insurer over denied COVID-19 claims
The Houston Rockets and billionaire owner Tilman Fertitta sued their insurer, Affiliated FM Insurance Co., in July for denying the National Basketball Association team's attempt to recover the lost revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic through his business interruption insurance.
Fertitta & # 39; s Rocket Ball Ltd. and Clutch City Sports & Entertainment L.P., the respective holding companies of the team and Toyota Center where the Rockets play, have sued the insurer in Rhode Island state court. Affiliated FM is a division of the commercial real estate insurance company FM Global Group, which is based in Johnston, Rhode Island.
Nonstandard auto insurer in Texas placed in receivership
In late October 2020, a judge in Travis County, Texas, approved an injunction placing Houston-based non-standard auto insurer, ACCC Insurance Co., into receivership at the request of the Texas Department of Insurance. The company was later determined to be insolvent and a petition for liquidation was filed by the rehabilitator on November 24. In mid-December, Embark General, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, said it would acquire ACCC's Alabama and Texas operations.
Texas Insurer Hallmark Financial Exiting Binding Primary Commercial Auto Business
Hallmark Financial Services Inc., based in Dallas, said in March 2020 that it would discontinue its Binding Primary Auto business, citing the development of losses for previous underwriting years. The commercial car product is the primary cover written by brokers with binding authority.
Judge throws Texas Barbershops & # 39; lawsuit against insurer over coronavirus losses
A federal judge agreed with an insurer in August that a group of barber shops in the San Antonio, Texas area had no basis for claims seeking coverage under their commercial insurance policies for business interruption losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. The judge ruled that the plaintiffs suffered no physical damage as required by their policy.
Insurtech: It's not just for carriers
Insurtech used to be seen as a competitive threat to independent agents, and there was little start-up activity to address the operational needs of insurance agents and brokers. However, there is now a focus on technology to help agents grow their business book, especially commercial insurance operations, maintain the business they already have and communicate more efficiently with their customers, said a professional professional specializing in technology-related products and services for insurance companies.
Texas Insurance Agency Released From Suit By Restaurant Group Due To Virus Losses
In August 2020, a federal judge in Texas fired Swingle Collins & Associates, an independent Dallas insurance agency, and Agent Brandon Cass after a lawsuit filed by a Dallas restaurant group seeking compensation for corporate income losses arising from the civil government's enforced shuttering from companies in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Vandelay Hospitality Group LP had named Swingle Collins & Associates and Cass as additional defendants in a lawsuit against Cincinnati Insurance Co. on the insurer's refusal of the restaurant group's claim to indemnify losses incurred as a result of forced business closures by both Dallas-area and state authorities.
Cops warned about "creative" lawyers, virus lawsuits
Agents and brokers should be wary that plaintiffs' attorneys in COVID-19-related business interruption claims can keep an eye on them as more cases against insurance companies begin to fail and plaintiffs look around for other sources of compensation for losses incurred during government-imposed closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to agent errors and omission (E&O) insurance specialists.
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