Okay, I admit my bias. I am a personal injury attorney. I am a trial lawyer. As a trial lawyer, I spend most of my day arguing with insurance companies. However, for 8+ years, I made my living as an insurance adjsuter. And as hard as I work at my law practice, I worked that hard as an adjuster. I still have friends who are adjusters. I still respect a lot of people in the insurance business and write for insurance publications. (See my website at www.jonathangstein.com for some of my articles.)
That being said, enough is enough. If I see one more insurance company run an ad with pictures of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, I am going to scream. Literally, I will scream. I appreciate State Farm, Allstate, Progressive and the others responding to the disaster. But, THAT IS THEIR JOB. Its not fun. Responding to a catastrophe (CAT duty, as it is called in the industry) is one of the worst jobs to get. You leave your family, your friends, and go to an unfamiliar part of the country that was just struck by a disaster. Its not fun.
However, the insurance companies should NOT be running ads telling us how great they are for going in. You want great stories about the Hurricane? Rick Martinez, outgoing chief of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, went in voluntarily to help out. Read Rick Reilly in Sports Illustrated a few weeks ago about the help that some of the college athletes offered and provided. Those are great stories.
State Farm going in to pay claims that it owes? Thats not great. Its not even a story. Its what those people paid them to do. The ad basically says “We are great people because we went in after the hurricane and are paying claims to people who paid us premium. You should insure with us too.” Why should I give them my money? Because they did what I was paying them to do?
Sorry, in my book, thats cheap marketing. Thats using someone elses bad fortune to make a profit. The insurance companies should be ashamed.