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

Monday, October 15, 2007

Insurance Execs: Two Fisted Greedy Gutted Goons

by Ana Maria

Insurance execs' pay up dramatically , the article’s title read. Brazenly flaunting their ability to fleece the American people, these two fisted greedy gutted people ought to be hung out to dry for their deliberately irresponsible behavior to the American policyholders and taxpayers.

Two fisted greedy gutted goons.

I’ve heard the phrase used to describe a zealously gluttonous individual. The phrase refers to someone who fails to use the common sense born to those with the socially acceptable moral compass found most often in people reared with traditional manners of please, thank you, yes, sir and no ma’am. I’m definitely from the old school in that department.

I remember my ire in one statewide campaign in which I was working. Responsible for providing the meals to volunteers at headquarters during the final four days of the campaign, I dubbed myself Food Goddess. Determined NOT to have one more meal of pizza, the menu I put out a week ahead of time included food from the area’s various ethnic restaurants.

Pizza is the standard campaign fare. By the end of the season, campaign volunteers and staff are sick of it. So, I was determined NOT to have one more meal of pizza. To my thinking, I could encourage MORE hours of volunteer time if the food coming in was a veritable feast. And a feast it was. Log before the weekend arrived, I posted the menu all over the HUGE headquarters. Why? That’s simple: to entice volunteers to schedule more time during the final push to victory.

I met my youthful greedy gutted wonders moments after announcing meal time. Oh my GAWD! The young guys piled high on their plates tons of food! I was aghast when I realized that their ill-mannered behavior had left very little for the more elderly volunteers among our many hundred volunteers. The next meal—merely hours away, I fixed their little you-know-whats.

First, I personally went to each of the elderly volunteers and whispered to them “dinner’s ready” as I winked and told them to go fill up their plates. Once each of them had their meals, then I announced mealtime for the rest of the volunteers. When the greedy gutted wonders returned to the line eager to exhibit another round of gluttony, I told them they could take ONE of anything and that was it!

You gotta picture this. I’m a rather petite woman. The young men were . . . not. They were huge, comparatively speaking. When they objected, I gave them a piece of my mind. This was free food donated to the campaign for ALL the volunteers. Their behavior was atrocious and I’m sure that their parents had taught them better manners than they had demonstrated. That as long as I was in charge of the food—and I was definitely IN CHARGE—they would follow the rules or not be fed.

I stood watch over the next few meals and guess what? These greedy gluttonous guys (yes, they were all late teen and early 20 year old guys) exhibited perfectly acceptable manners. Not only had I demonstrated that I was not tolerating bad behavior, but my rather public and strong admonition of their behavior apparently gave others permission to keep them in line as well. Group psychology in action, I suppose.

So, when I read yet another article of the greedy gutted goons that sit at the top of the insurance industry’s corporate ladder raking off millions and millions of dollars that should have gone to pay out Katrina survivors’ legitimate wind related claims, I thought of my time in Virginia. (By the way, with great team work and a fabulous candidate, Mark Warner, we won that governor's race in 2001!)

The way I see it matching up is like this.

The multiple peril legislation that Congressman Gene Taylor (D-MS) successfully shepherded through the House of Representatives last month does for the insurance industry what I did for the volunteers. The legislation makes the insurance playing field even. How? Glad you asked!

The insurance execs exhibit the same gluttonous behavior as the greedy gutted young ones in the campaign. To reign in the insurance execs requires making the playing field even. That is exactly what the Multiple Peril Legislation does. Like bullies at a buffet table, Big Insurance with its greedy gutted goons think it can take what it wants and leave the crumbs for the rest of us. If they leave us hungry, they don’t care. The greedy gutted goons care about themselves only.

Look at the latest evidence.

Insurance companies have raised rates, dropped thousands of policyholders and, in some cases, even stopped writing new business in the region, generally on the grounds that they must cut their potential losses from future storms.

But there is little sign the belt-tightening extends to top executives at those firms, when measured by pay. * * *

At State Farm, which announced in February it was dropping homeowner coverage for some 2,600 policyholders in Mobile and Baldwin counties, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Edward Rust Jr. collected about $11.7 million in salary and bonus last year - more than double the $5.5 million he received in 2004. Other top executives shared in the wealth. Michael Tipsord, the company's chief financial officer, made almost $5 million last year, compared with $1.1 million in 2004.

At Alfa Insurance Corp., which is dropping wind coverage for 4,600 coastal policyholders in Alabama, President and CEO Jerry Newby's compensation package last year totaled about $1.7 million, up by more than one-quarter since 2004. For chief executives at California-based Fire Insurance Exchange and Texas-based USAA, two other leading writers of homeowner policies in the state, the percentage increases in compensation during the 2004-06 time frame were about 75 and 150 percent, respectively.
To feed our hunger for sane insurance rates and for a single policy that covers both wind and flood damage—you know, one policy with one adjuster who will issue one check to cover damage from both wind and flood, Congress overwhelmingly passed with wonderful bi-partisan support the Multiple Peril Insurance legislation that Congressman Gene Taylor (D-MS) authored. This legislation will take away the bullying ability of Big Insurance’s greedy gutted goons.

Bloomberg News ran a superb article on how Big Insurance has been cherry picking their policyholders all over this country from California to the Gulf Coast to New York. When those policyholders file claims, Big Insurance again take out its bullying tactics to cherry pick who it will pay and who will be left holding the bag. No more!

With the Big Insurance Bullies, we can stand up for ourselves and declare cherry picking season is over. Now, it’s Senate season. It’s time for us to turn up the heat on the U.S. Senate to generate support to introduce and pass Taylor’s multiple peril legislation.

Yeah, boy, it’s political hell raising time again! Today, let’s contact our two U.S. Senators with a simple message to protect American families and businesses from the bullying tactics of Big Insurance. Better for us to raise a little hell now while we have the golden opportunity to make a difference before the next wave the industry’s bullying tactics. Passing the Multiple Peril Insurance legislation stops Big Insurance from continuing its greedy gutted behavior at our expense. Informing our U.S. Senators of our position on this legislation is how we get the ball rolling so we can achieve in the Senate the same glorious victory we achieve in the House of Representatives.

© 2007 Ana Maria Rosato. All rights reserved.
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Jim Vancini said...

Wow, thats pretty one sided view. Lets look at it this way. If it were your business, and you were paying out more money than you took in for a service you offered, what options do you have?

That is the reality insurance companies operate under in FL. They pay out more in claims than they collect in premiums.

What option would you follow if it were your business? 1) Raise prices to cover expenses and a reasonable profit 2)Limit the amount of business you take in that loses money for you 3) Do nothing and continue to let other customers pay for the additional risk and expense of your decision to sell products to a small number that cost you an unfair amount of expense.

Homeowners insurance is not an entitlement. You have to qualify and pay a fair price for it. While I can appreciate the burden it places on those families who have to pay a disproptionate amount of income for it, I have no desire to subsidize their choices of where to live. Homeowners insurance is a cost of homeownership in FL. If you cant afford it, buy a cheaper home (oh, the shame), rent (oh the shame) or move someplace less expensive (what and give up all this).

I feel the same way about earthquake insurance for Californians. Would you want to pay for this coverage for all those souls in CA? I imagine not.

And Citizens Insurance is always there for FL homeowners. (for now)

So its not a matter of greed, but being a prudent business person. FL homeowners want to the cheapest insurance they can get and the politicians are going to tell them what they want to hear.

On the surface large increases may seem like hubris, but you have to look at the why behind the request. If the government requires business to operate in a way that loses money, that is not a good thing.

Ana Maria said...

Apparently you didn't bother to look at my bio or you would have realized that I had just moved back to my hometown of Bay St. Louis, Miss.,--ground zero for Katrina--after having lived in Silicon Valley, California for a number of years.

So, the answer to your question about whether I would not want to pay for earthquake protection for the American families and businesses that live in California is, of course, erroneous.

See, I feel fervently about all Americans receiving a fair shake. That's the kind of American I am. Patriotic and all that, you know?

If a business pays out more than it takes in, sure, it must adjust. Raise prices, cut out lines of businesses that are unprofitable, and . . . gut those big ass executive pay raises and salaries. The latter is one of my choices in the current situation.

Next, if folks don't want to be in the business of insurance, sweetheart, no one is requiring that they be in the business. In case you haven't noticed, there are no laws determining which line of business you will be in. Isn't that wonderful? It's the American way.

Folks are free to get into a line a business, change their mind and get out.

What they are not free to do is to steal, to betray their way to their fortunes without paying the consequence. And today, the insurance industry is paying the consequence for betraying the American families and business owners by pretending they will cover something like hurricane wind or fire damage as they take our money for the premiums, then failing to cover expenses for wind and fire damage and the like.

What they are NOT free to do without consequence is to push to prevent Congress from passing legislation that will allow American families and businesses to obtain affordable and reliable multiple peril legislation from their federal government when the insurance industry has obviously abandoned America's families and businesses.

And, dear friend, unless you are a direct beneficiary of a substantial amount of these millions of dollars in blood money that the insurance companies have gained in profits on the back of American families and business owners, what the heck are you doing defending these two fisted greedy gutted goons?

Greed is not about prudence. It's about . . . greed.

Your logic is silly, dahlin'.

The insurance industry is in the business of risk. Bilking the American taxpayer--both as homeowners and as business owners, is not a rationale their unbridled greed. Your diatribe defending the indefensible is silly.

Though I am flattered that you apparently feel so threatened by the potency of my perspective, that you graced us with a glorious display of goofy thinking.

Look, the insurance companies should simply get out of the business if they can only make money through betraying Americans whether we live in Florida or Mississippi, Oklahoma, or California. Betrayal and greed are not values to be defended by you or any other silly soul.

Have a great day, paisan . . .