Measures to Reduce Harm and Litigation After Catastrophes Lead Issues for ABA Policy Body in Boston in February

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Would address problems from fires, floods, hurricanes, other natural disasters.

- Inadequate access to insurance, disputes over insurance coverage, critical need for immediate access to cash, devastating property damage--all of these are problems resulting from natural catastrophes, from forest fires in Western states, to flooding in the Midwest and damage from hurricanes or other massive storms in the East and South.

While there have been attempts to address catastrophe problems piece-meal, the American Bar Association Section of Tort Trial and Insurance Practice has developed a series of policy proposals to be considered by the ABA House of Delegates, the association's policy-making body, when it meets in Boston for the ABA Midyear Meeting, Feb. 11-17. These proposals represent a comprehensive set of integrated and highly interdependent measures, to reduce litigation after catastrophes, reduce risk of loss from future catastrophe and aid potential victims of disasters to come.

Proposals include ones that:

  •     Aim to broaden the availability of insurance protection for storm damage by eliminating the restrictions on insurance providers (Report 107A). Read more…
  •     Implore Congress to enact programs to increase the availability of affordable insurance in areas of high catastrophe exposure as well as improve the federal flood insurance program (Report 107B). Read more…
  •     Urge government to encourage capital markets to finance catastrophic risk, including supporting the issuance of securities that will limit the pricing of insurance. (Report 107C). Read more…
  •     Address the financial needs of those suffering harm from natural disasters through methods that include distribution of government support for emergency liquidity, forbearance of mortgage loans and modifications to the distribution system for federal assistance (Report 107D). Read more…
  •     Seek to ensure available and affordable insurance by mitigating loss from future catastrophes. Proposed efforts include improved building codes, vigorous code enforcement and residential retrofitting, among others (Report 107E). Read more…
  •     Urge federal standards requiring strong, damage-resistant building codes for new construction and aggressive code enforcement (Report 107F). Read more…
  •     Advocate federal standards for handling residential and small business insurance claims for property damages resulting from hurricanes or storms (107G). Read more…

The 555-member House will consider these and other proposals when it convenes Feb. 16 in the Hynes Convention Center. No proposal becomes association policy until it is approved by the House. The proposals related to catastrophic loss are among policy offerings including criminal justice matters, legal rights of military personnel, immigration issues and measures affecting legal practice, such as client protections when lateral career moves of lawyers between firms create potential conflicts of interest.

All recommendations for House consideration, including reports advocating their adoption, are posted here. To access the reports, click on the link to the Summary of Recommendations. To read any individual report, click on the report number. The proposals related to catastrophes are in a series of seven reports with recommendations, identified as numbers 107A through 107G.

Online registration for news reporters is easier than ever. Credential guidelines are at

Accredited reporters are welcome to attend and cover all sessions for free. A press room for working journalists will be at the Hynes Convention Center, Exhibit Hall D, Level 2, starting at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12, and will remain open for on-site media registration daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The press room will close one hour after the adjournment of the ABA House of Delegates. For more information, call 312/988-6171, or 310/551-7569 Feb. 11 - 17.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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