File this one under "MSM condemns ee-vil corporations." As you'll note from the screencap, ABC's Good Morning America today branded State Farm Insurance "not a good neighbor." What is State Farm's sin? Its decision not to write new homeowners and commercial policies in the state of Mississippi.
Did you note that? State Farm has decided not to write any new policies. This in no way affects the insurer's liability for existing policies. State Farm has made a simple business decision: given the legal environment there, Mississippi is not a good place for an insurer like it do to business.
As per this Forbes article:
"Mike Fernandez, vice president of public affairs for State Farm, said Mississippi's 'current legal and political environment is simply untenable. We're just not in a position to accept any additional risk in this homeowners' market.'"
That didn't stop Diane Sawyer from introducing a segment on the news by speaking of "outrage" over insurance companies and declaring that "some" call State Farm's decision "heartless and others call it plain greedy."
Chris Cuomo narrated the segment. Although a brief clip was played of State Farm spokesman Fernandez, most of the segment was taken up by the sympathetic story of one couple that had to wait a year-and-a-half to get its check, and clips of the Mississipi AG accusing State Farm of greed and a consumer advocate claiming State Farm is saying "if you make us pay what we owe we're going to take it out on your citizens."
Closing the segment, Cuomo stated "you know the saying 'like a good neighbor State Farm is there'?, well those Gulf Coast residents say when they need help the most, that good neighbor is moving out." From his body language and tone there was little doubt Cuomo was seconding the emotion. And again, ABC's screencap left no doubt. It didn't ask whether State Farm was being a good neighbor." It boldly proclaimed that it was not.
Cuomo misleads when he says the company is leaving when people need help the most. Remember: State Farm's decision has nothing to do with existing policies or claims. It remains fully liable on all of those. It simply does not want to do any new business in Mississippi. If the legal climate in the state gives insurers a fair shake, then surely State Farm's depature creates a huge business opportunity for other companies, who will rush in to fill State Farm's vacuum. If they don't, it's fair to conclude that there is no level legal playing field for insurers. Rather than blaming the free enterprise system, ABC should examine the broken legal system in Mississippi, notoriously dominated by trial lawyer interests.
Back in the studio Diane declared a "call to arms" in which all of the regular GMA cast members will be "taking on the issue of the insurance industry, taking your case to them and getting answers."
ABC: not just in the news business anymore -- going to war against corporate America!
Contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org