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Problems settling “wind versus water” claims after Hurricane Katrina–with policyholders, including members of Congress, challenging denials based on the standard flood exclusion–generated unwanted negative publicity for the insurance business. The fallout has included insurers being skewered in Washington hearings and initiatives launched to repeal the industry’s federal antitrust immunity.

To avoid all these problems, some have wondered whether it might have been better for insurers to just pay all Katrina losses, based on a so-called “moral obligation.”

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