Hood says State Farm hurting its own agents

Published 9:13 pm Friday, February 16, 2007

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood on Thursday criticized State Farm Insurance Co. for suspending the writing of new homeowners and corporate policies in Mississippi, saying the company is unfairly punishing its own agents.

“It is indeed childish for a company like State Farm to hurt its own dedicated insurance agents in an attempt to intimidate a federal judge, the Mississippi Legislature, and the citizens of the State of Mississippi,” Hood said in a statement.

“It is one thing to write no new policies in coastal areas, but to also punish its own agents throughout other parts of the state where there is no additional risk, shows the American public just how arrogant this company has become.”

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State Farm, Mississippi’s largest homeowner insurer, said Wednesday it has had enough of the state’s “untenable” legal and political climate and would suspend writing the new homeowners and commercial policies.

A spokesman for State Farm said the decision was due in part to the wave of litigation the company has encountered since the Aug. 29, 2005, storm.

Hood had said earlier that State Farm had indicated in the past it would remain in Mississippi and continue to write homeowner policies.

He said it was State Farm and not Mississippi that had created the problem by refusing to pay claims and dragging out the process.

“If they paid what they owed in the first place, there never would have been a lawsuit filed,” Hood said.

He said the insurer was trying to “nickel and dime” policyholders on the coast after making “$3.9 billion in the most catastrophic year in history.”

State Farm spokesman Phil Supple declined to respond to Hood’s comments Thursday.

“We took this action because of uncertainties in the legal and business environment of the state,” Supple said in a statement. “Parts of our insurance policies are being reinterpreted. It is not prudent to add business when your contract with customers is being called into question.”