[JURIST] State Farm Insurance [corporate website] will accelerate settlement payouts to Mississippi Gulf Coast residents whose homes were affected by Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive], according to Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale [official profile] Monday. Dale told Reuters that after the court delayed certifying a proposed settlement, he negotiated with State Farm "to bring closure for coastal homeowners." State Farm had originally reported that it would no longer write new policies to insure Mississippi home owners when the settlement was delayed, but Dale said his the resolution would discourage State Farm, Mississippi's largest insurer, from leaving the state. The agreement makes millions of additional dollars available to insured homeowners in three coastal counties.
In February, State Farm filed to have a judge removed [JURIST report] from a Katrina class action lawsuit for bias. In January, a Mississippi jury held State Farm liable for $2.5 million dollars in punitive damages [JURIST report] for rejecting a Katrina claim that State Farm said was due to wind before the storm rather than the hurricane itself. In the same month, State Farm agreed to settle with hundreds of Mississippi homeowners, but the judge rejected the proposed settlement [JURIST reports]. Reuters has more.