HIGHTOWER: Hoggish Insurance Companies

Hogs tend to be ... well, hoggish. Even when a hog is already stuffed from being overfed, it still wants its trough to be filled-up.Let's check today's Hog Report to get an example.These squealers are insurance companies that've been getting fat at our expense. Years ago, auto thefts were on the rise all across America, and the auto insurers were demanding that state regulators raise the rates on your and my comprehensive auto policies to cover their losses. Insurance company lobbyists pointed-out that 80 percent of the payouts made under such insurance were due to thefts. Sure enough, our premiums were jacked-up.For the past several years, though, auto thefts are down -- way down. In New York City, for example, thefts have plunged by almost 60 percent since 1990. But have Aetna, Allstate, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, State Farm, and Travelers lowered their rates on comprehensive insurance? Not by so much as a dime ... and rates have actually risen in some states."Oh ... Tut-tut," say the companies, "clearly you do not appreciate the complexities of rate-setting, taking into account such factors as differing environments, driving conditions, the propensity to file claims and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."As New York City's consumer affairs commissioner puts it, "companies want people to think this is a complicated issue, but it's not." Bingo! The issue actually is as simple as this: The insurance giants can hold-up the rates (and us!) because they can. Indeed, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani -- not exactly a fire-brand consumer activist -- blasted his state's insurance department as being a captive of the industry it's supposed to regulate.This is Jim Hightower saying ... To learn more about how the companies are ripping you off ... and what you can do about it, contact Consumers Union on 914-378-2000.Source: "Fewer auto thefts not leading to insurance cuts" by Merrill Goozner. "Chicago Tribune": July 6, 1997.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.