What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Helping Big Insurance See Red

by Ana Maria

As I read these articles this morning, the connection between and injustice of these two pieces really got to me. The woman deliberately applied for and received a duplicate check for property lost in Louisiana during Katrina. She was found guilty of “felony of theft of public money”. She had already gotten and cashed the first check.

On the other hand, insurance companies like Allstate and State Farm “strike it rich” with their industry-wide post-Katrina strategy in which companies “pulled back aggressively from areas susceptible to expensive storms. It did not renew many homeowners' policies. And it dramatically increased its own insurance, or reinsurance.

Of course, part of their “pull back” strategy also included deliberately denying legitimate wind claims on the home owner’s insurance policies for American families and businesses that Katrina had substantially damaged or destroyed. When these companies denied the wind claims, that also meant that the companies took themselves off the hook for the cost of living expenses for which we pay on our homeowner policies. You know, housing and the like.

When the insurance companies wrongly denied these wind claims thus weaseling out of their obligation to pay the cost of living expenses for these tens of thousands of families here in Mississippi alone, the families relied on Uncle Sam for their cost of living costs. To my way of thinking, these companies committed . . . now what was it that the woman was convicted of . . . “felony of theft of public money”. The woman deliberately had the government send her an additional $2,000 check. She got three years probation and had to pay the money back.

Isn’t that what Big Insurance has done? Hasn’t Big Insurance sent the American taxpayer a bill for cost of living expenses that the insurance companies should have paid for? Congressman Gene Taylor (D-MS) often recites 40,000 as the number of FEMA trailers here in Mississippi.
In south Mississippi at one point we had 40,000 people living in FEMA trailers, we're grateful for every one of them. But those trailers were delivered by a friend of the president by the name of Riley Bechtel, a major contributor to Bush administration. He got $16,000 to haul a trailer the last 70 miles from Purvis, Miss., down to the Gulf Coast, hook it up to a garden hose, hook it up to a sewer tap, and plug it in, $16,000.
Since folks had been living in tents—and it is hot as blazes down here, the trailers were a welcomed reprieve—even if they have since been shown to be formaldehyde-filled. Get it? The insurance companies’ deliberate failure to certify policyholders’ wind claims had American families living in tents in the hot-as-Hades sun, then in formaldehyde-filled trailers where many thousands of families continue to reside because of the housing crisis.

This crisis—along with the rest of the economic crisis throughout the Katrina-ravaged region—is caused because of a responsibility crisis. Many insurance companies have exhibited this industry-wide epidemic of shirking its financial responsibilities.

If our society finds guilty a woman who wrongfully bilked the government of $2,000 requiring her to repay the money and to be on probation for three years, what would be an appropriate sentence for corporations that deliberately bilked the federal government of billions of dollars in federal disaster aid to the Katrina region?

If the industry had responsibly paid for wind-related damages and the related cost-of-living expenses associated with those damages, the federal flood insurance program would not be swimming in Katrina-related red ink. And this red ink is the industry’s main talking point for opposing Taylor’s Multiple Peril Insurance legislation.

The audacity of Big Insurance to bilk us of our tax dollars and then turn around and use that red ink as the reason to oppose the Multiple Peril Insurance legislation! Kind of has us seeing red, doesn’t it?

When I have an abundance of something, sharing it always makes me feel fabulously. Yes, ma’am and yes, sir! Generosity is key. With this abundance of red, we can share the wealth . . . through a bit of political hell raising.

All we need to do is email or call our U.S. Senators to let them know that we support Taylor’s Multiple Peril Insurance legislation. If we’ve already called, then send an email. The more we do this, the more political momentum we build for the bill. The more political momentum we generate, the more likely the bill will pass the U.S. Senate. The quicker we do this, the quicker we graciously assist Big Insurance in “seeing red” for themselves. Maybe those millions and millions of dollars in raises and bonuses that the two-fisted greedy gutted insurance execs received will have to be returned to the U.S. Treasury. Isn't that what the woman had to do? She had to return the bonus she gave to herself? That seems like fair play to me.

And that’s the way we spread our generosity of seeing red to Big Insurance while passing the Multiple Peril Insurance legislation to protect our families and businesses. It feel good to be generous inside the political arena!

© 2007 Ana Maria Rosato. All rights reserved.
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