THE PLANK JANUARY 3, 2007
One of the most outrageous developments surrounding tonight's Sugar Bowl in New Orleans--that is, other than the massively over-hyped Notre Dame's appearance in the game--is the event's corporate sponsor: Allstate. A report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune says Allstate will be airing a series of gauzy commercials welcoming people back to the city and claiming credit for its role in that effort. Which is interesting. Because if you talk to people in New Orleans, you don't get the impression that Allstate has been a huge help. Unless, of course, you consider raising rates by 55 percent over the next several years to be helpful. Or if you consider trying to cancel wind and hail coverage for 30,000 Louisiana residents to be helpful. (This, incidentally, is plainly illegal, so the company is now pursuing a similar goal in a slightly more subtle way.) Or if you consider it a sign of helpfulness when a company boasts such a large ratio of complaints to policyholders that it triggers an investigation by state authorities.
Allstate is, of course, perfectly within its legal rights to behave the way it has (except when it's not, but never mind that). But to pretend the company is doing anything other than squeezing Louisianans, rather than looking out for them the way their Sugar Bowl ads will suggest, is downright offensive. You can, apparently, raise rates, deny claims, and cancel policies all you want. But please don't insult our intelligence.
Update: A commenter asks for documentation for the rest of the facts in this item--presumably, the 55-percent rate increase, and the attempt to drop coverage for 30,000 Louisiana residents. Click here for a Times-Picayune piece on the subject.