2005, a Year to Remember: Busiest Hurricane Season of the Century for United States

December 29, 2005

The hurricane season made 2005 a year-to-remember, with the southeast encountering the busiest hurricane season of the century, with 26 named storms and 13 hurricanes, meteorologists used up the list of 21 proper names and had to resort to the Greek alphabet for storms Alpha through Epsilon.

A list of top news for each month includes:

January 2005

Florida: Four insurance companies canceled 9,000 policies, one firm left the state and 13 asked the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation to increase their rates from 11 to 60 percent. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America urged Florida lawmakers to allow reforms time to work before implementing additional major changes. Citizens Property Insurance Corp. was attempting to improve its service and reduce complaints after the busy 2004 hurricane season. CFO Tom Gallagher met with Citizens officials and outlined performance-improving goals.

North Carolina: Bid-rigging investigations were continuing to scrutinize insurance companies and brokers.

South Carolina: PCI announced it supported the repeal of the state’s Second Injury Fund, which, due to excessive costs, has become a hindrance to much needed economic development in the state.

West Virginia: The state purchased a $2.6 million workers’ compensation medical bill processing system.

February 2005

Florida: Solving Citizens Property Insurance Corp.’s problems topped legislator’s to-do list. Officials, concerned with insurance rate increases, scheduled public hearings. Costly premium increases were announced for 532,000 Florida mobile home owners.

Georgia: Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine said he was disappointed that Marsh & McLennan “got off the hook” in its settlement with the New York State Attorney General and said his office will continue to investigate overcharges.

West Virginia: Working groups were formed to discuss insurance and tort reforms.

March 2005

Georgia: The state cracked down on uninsured motorists in preparation for new regulations taking effect April 1.

Florida: CFO Tom Gallagher began a series of state-wide town-hall meetings to hear consumer complaints about hurricane repairs. A cabinet mandate gave insurers 30 days to settle 100,000 insurance claims and issued an emergency rule to expedite open hurricane claims. Miami, Fla. authorities crushed a lucrative luxury car theft ring and retrieved vehicles worth $1 million.

Kentucky: A law was passed in Kentucky to clean up statute misconceptions.

Mississippi: The legislature tightened ‘proof of insurance’ requirements.

West Virginia: Governor Joe Manchin III introduced auto insurance reforms to eliminate third-party, bad-faith action and limit financial obligations of joint defendants in liability lawsuits.

April 2005

Alabama: An insurance referral service was suggested by a task force.

Florida: The Supreme Court upheld a 30-day deadline for doctors to file policy no-fault claims. An insurance committee was attempting to find a sinkhole definition. CFO Gallagher pushed for ‘understandable’ policy changes. An insurance regulation report recommended to legislators that they establish a sinkhole fund. The House passed HB1019, the Asbestos and Silica Compensation Act.

Georgia: The state enacted major tort reform incentives were enacted and asbestos legislation was signed.

Mississippi: Agents expected a large number of claims after the state was pummeled with severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. The state also increased minimum auto liability limits.

North Carolina: An auto fraud ring was detoured after 480 crashes and $2 million in false claims.

West Virginia: After a two hour debate the House passed senate Bill 414, prohibiting third-party bad-faith lawsuits.

May 2005

Florida: The cabinet was told that 186 insurers still have 57,830 claims open from storms. The DOI investigated claims Citizens paid bogus hurricane claims. A DFS report revealed more than 3,000 attended state-wide town hall meetings.

North Carolina: The governor proclaimed Hurricane Preparedness Week.

South Carolina: Hurricane-force winds hit the Outer Banks. A bill was passed to require health coverage for mental illness.

West Virginia: Insurers reacted to passed legislation as five companies decreased their auto rates.

June 2005

Alabama: Big ‘I’ and COI released a list of providers as hurricane claims resources. Commissioner Bell called local performance ‘impressive.’ A task force recommended a 60-Day homeowners policy notice.

Florida: Tropical Storm Arlene kicked off the 2005 hurricane season with rain, flooding northwest of Pensacola and in parts of Alabama. FAIA ‘Roundups’ analyze legislation, its impacts.

Kentucky: The Workers’ Compensation Self-Insured Fund showed a deficit.

Mississippi: Biloxi covers its bets, buys business interruption insurance in case of hurricanes.

North Carolina: Commissioner warns citizens to prepare for hurricanes.

West Virginia: Insurance commission implementing plans for a workers’ compensation education program.

July 2005

Alabama: A hurricane sales tax measure dies, sponsors pledge to try again next year.

Florida: A FAIA speaker urged companies to make hurricane policy changes. Florida Keys evacuated as Hurricane Dennis eyes the state. FEMA wants overpayments returned. Citizens Property Insurance returns more than 32,000 policies to the private market. and an emergency order was issued to protect homeowners in 12 Panhandle counties.

Georgia: Commissioner Oxendine’s Office and the PIA of Georgia warned against altered certificates of insurance.

Kentucky: The state issues a record number of workers’ compensation citations, fines.

Mississippi: Insurance Commissioner George Dale warns everyone to be prepared for more hurricanes.

North Carolina: Task force formed to identify, fight Medicaid fraud.

South Carolina: A task force was appointed by Governor Sanford to study workers’ compensation.

August 2005

Florida: Hurricane Katrina hits Fort Lauderdale. Hurricane recovery passes $5.6 billion. Attorney General Crist announces restitution for hurricane price gouging. Miami PD eliminates its auto theft unit. Studies reveal motorcycle deaths increase due to helmet law repeal.

Mississippi: Hurricane Katrina brings high winds, flooding. Inspectors Arrested for soliciting contractors for Hurricane Ivan bribes.

Georgia: Atlanta doctor indicted in $3 million Medicaid fraud.

North Carolina: Legislators sign “limited package’ of workers’ compensation reforms. PEO operator indicted for pocketing $3.8 million in workers’ compensation funds. Fraud-ring members implicated for 480 bogus crash claims. Changes made to Self-insurance Guaranty Association, NAMIC opposes them.

West Virginia: Terminated doctor owes W. Va. Workers’ Compensation more than $1 million.

September 2005

Alabama: Insurers offer suspended billing.

Florida: Hurricanes Rita and Katrina hit. Citizens COO allegedly took kickbacks. Tropical Storm Ophelia brings buckets of rain. FEMA denies Hurricane Katrina aid.

Georgia: Sanitation workers arrested in scam. Mississippi: Insurers directed to grant hurricane grace periods.

Kentucky: Agreement reached on AIK Comp case. Bogus auto bonds sold as insurance substitute.

Mississippi: Commissioner George Dale urges insurers to pay all valid Katrina claims, cautions insurance committee not to force issue. FAIA Cat Team arrives in Mississippi: Attorney General accuses carriers of attempting to cheat Katrina survivors, they refute his claims.

North Carolina: Ophelia regains punch, lashes coast.

Tennessee: Couple sentenced for scamming $6 million in workers’ compensation funds.

October 2005

Florida: Hurricane Wilma hits Naples, S. Florida, thousands of claims antitipated. Gov. Bush supports hurricane insurance fund. Citizens counsel resigns due to conflict.

Mississippi: Commissioner Bell suggests mediation, town hall meetings. Hurricane claims paid top $1.2 billion. 1,300 on-going fraud investigations reported. Medical liability rates drop.

North Carolina: Senior Deputy Commissioner steps down. PEO operator pleads guilty to mail fraud.

South Carolina: Attorney General targets insurance scams. Fewer uninsured drivers reported.

West Virginia: Due to legislation, homeowners, auto rates dramatically reduced. DoI monitoring fraud with investigation software. Agents learn in’s, out’s of policy glitches at Big ‘I’ conference.

November 2005

Alabama: DoI predicts price increases, 50,000 hurricane claims.

Florida: Big ‘I’ Suggest Eliminating HRA. Attorney General Says price-gouging complaints rising. Contractors backlogged with Hurricane Wilma repairs.

Mississippi: $3 billion claims paid, Dale says it’s a “No-win situation.’ Governor says Katrina federal aid proposals fall short. Miss. Farm Bureau Mutual paid $450 million claims. South Carolina: Carrier stops writing workers’ comp.

West Virginia: PCI applauds workers’ comp reforms. Study shows auto collisions with deer Average $1,700 per claim.

December 2005

Alabama: Balboa stops writing non-standard business.

Florida: Strict insurance fraud reporting requirements proposed. Condo association’s urged to use mediation. Adjusters backlogged with Wilma claims. Grand Jury hears about Citizens claims handling practices.

Kentucky: Jan. 1 crackdown planned on uninsured motorists. Governor targets medical malpractice lawsuits.

Mississippi: Insured losses pegged at $12 billion from Katrina. Homeowners rate increases approved before Katrina. Sen. Lott suing Statefarm.

South Carolina: Panel proposes workers’ compensation changes, NCCI criticizes report.

Tennessee: Adjuster awaits sentencing in Crop-loss scam.

West Virginia: Employers warned to pay workers’ compensation.

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