Who SHOULD Win
NEWS FOR POLICYHOLDERS MAY SPELL
BAD NEWS FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS
Austin, TX (May 12,
2003) - During the past 15 months, Policyholders of America has
quietly been building a voter base that now influences more than 3
That's the sort of
number that can spell trouble for those seeking reelection.
In most states, the
policyholder has been left to fend for themselves while insurers are
given carte blanche to overcharge, exclude or seriously limit
coverage, negatively impact a homeowner's ability to sell their home
because of a claim made years before, and even deny legitimate
claims covered (in theory) by the contract between insurer and
America (or "POA", as it's known) was modeled in part
after AARP. The premise was simple: gather a large group of people
with the same common interest and experience and help them. In a
relatively short time, the organization, however, has done that and
This has come at a
high cost to some of the founding members who must, by their own
admission and verified by the nonprofit association's tax return,
infuse their own capital into the organization to subsidize its
mission of helping policyholders get their legitimate claims paid
without having to retain a lawyer. One such philanthropist, Melinda
Ballard, POA's president, says the organization is doing the job
that the public believes should be the responsibility of the
departments of insurance in each state. Says Ballard, "If
you've ever filed a complaint with your department of insurance you
will quickly realize that they are worthless in terms of helping get
your problem resolved." Ballard admits and even boasts that POA
has no clout with insurance companies however the association
archives thousands of internal claims handling documents and other
documents produced in legal cases that members use to catch their
insurance companies misrepresenting coverage or not adhering to
their own stated claims handling directives.
"It got me
paid on my frozen pipe claim", said George Shipman of Dallas,
who joined POA a year ago, just after his insurance company wrongly
denied his claim.
Shipman, a staunch
Republican, says he saw his premiums jump 300% after his claim was
finally paid. A few months ago, his policy was cancelled. He says he
will not vote like he did in previous elections - the straight
Republican ticket. "I will vote for the candidates backed by
POA. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would have never known
how broken the business of insurance really is", says Shipman.
Millions of voters
may feel the same way. Political observers acknowledge that in their
test case, POA successfully unseated one Republican incumbent in an
85% Republican district. In late October of 2002, POA sent out an
email to thousands of members in District 45 suggesting that they
reconsider voting for Rick Green because the insurance-friendly
positions he'd taken. The election results stunned both parties when
a 24-year-old student, running on the Democratic ticket, won.
POA members today
total nearly 900,000 families. The vast majority of these
memberships have been given away in exchange for their promise to
engage in the political process.
optimistic about the group's influence on the 2004 election.
"Our members understand that the only way to change the system
is to oust many of the elected officials who like the bartender
serving a known drunk the drink that leads to a fatal accident, have
enabled insurance companies to continue to operate in an unfair and
monthly invoices in their mailboxes. These premium notices serve as
a monthly reminder of the inequities and overcharges allowed by
those who were elected to office to protect the public, not the
insurance industry. These notices might also be viewed as the reason
why POA and other consumer advocacy groups may carry a big stick
come November of 2004.
US GET YOUR INSURANCE RATES SLASHED!
need you to write your elected officials and demand that they pass
tort reform if and only if it mandates a 60% rollback of premiums:
auto, homeowners, liability, medical mal, etc…
provided below a sample letter in Word. Please use it as the basis
for your own letter and FAX YOUR LETTERS to each of your elected
officials (Federal and State).
you do not know your elected officials, go to:
send letters to the following:
Federal: Your US Senators (2) Your US Representative (1)
Statewide: Your Governor (1) Your Lt. Governor (1) Your State
Attorney General (1)
Local: Your State Senator (1) Your State Representative (1)
and fax these letters to your elected officials so they know that
you demand a rate rollback of 60% if tort reform is to be in the
public's interests and not just another corporate handout.
here for a sample letter
It's critical to understand the cornerstones of each
major political party before you understand how and why legislators and
other elected officials do what they do.
Generally speaking, Republicans believe that if you
provide assistance directly to business, the increased revenues and profits
will somehow flow downward to the people. Republican agendas have included
tort reform legislation, business-friendly labor laws (recent workers
comp laws for example), lessening of environmental restrictions and a
host of other business-friendly packages. Republicans claim that less
government intervention will result in a smoother running machine, largely
because business will be less restricted by government oversight.
As a rule, Democrats, on the other hand, believe
that if relief is provided to the largest segment of the population (middle
and lower socio-economic classes) consumption increases and that will
spawn an increase in business revenues and profits. The agenda items for
Democrats are more consumer-friendly: penalizing companies that act negligently
and in bad faith, penalizing polluters and others who harm the environment,
increasing employee rights and other consumer-friendly packages. Democrats,
traditionally, are in favor of government oversight.
Whether or not you like a candidate because of party
affiliation is not the issue if he or she is beholding to a paymaster
whose interests are contrary to your own. By this I refer to campaign
contributors like political action committees ("PACs"), corporate executives
and Astroturf organizations , who will
expect legislative or judicial favors in return, regardless of party affiliation.
There are web sites that are available that will
allow you to track contributions made to candidates. Research these sites
for large campaign contributions made to your candidate; find out who
made the large contributions. If large contributions were made by PACs
whose missions and membership are insurance industry-friendly, these candidates
will almost always return favors at your expense.
Research sponsored by POA recently provided startling
voter insights. We commissioned a national public opinion research company
to conduct polls using a sample of 3,000 voting households all across
America: 43% were Republicans, 40% were Democrats and the balance was
undecided or independents. Below are some of the questions and responses
1. Rate each of the following by importance to you,
as a voter:
Good paying jobs and/or job security
My family's home and health
Nearly 83% of those polled rated "My family's home
and health" as the single most important item. "National security" was
a distant second, which is somewhat shocking since the poll was conducted
in early December 2001, when the war on terrorism was raging. The next
most important items, in order of import, were: "Strong economy", "Good
paying jobs and/or job security", "Lower taxes", and "Education". "Corporate
profits" were last on the list.
2. Rate each of the following categories in order
of how trustworthy they are: (measure trustworthiness by their propensity
to lie to their customers or constituents or do something unethical for
personal or business gain)
Commercial real estate developers
Securities brokerage or investment banking firms
Insurance (health, home and auto)
Computer hardware or software manufacturers
Real estate agents
69% of those polled ranked "Insurance" as the category
most likely to lie to customers, followed by "Politicians:, "Securities
brokers", "Commercial real estate developers". "Lawyers" and "Company
executives" were tied for fifth place. "Doctors" came in the second most
honest group and "Computer hardware/software manufacturers" were the most
honest of the lot.
3. If the participant answered "yes" to the question:
"Have you made an insurance claim within the last 24 months?", we then
asked: Did the claims process go smoothly or did the process leave you
feeling cheated out of benefits you deserved but did not receive? (a total
of 2,718 had filed a health, auto or homeowners claim within the last
72% of those polled said they were cheated. This
is a staggering number.
4. When asked if the insurance industry has done
a good job self policing itself, only 12% said "yes". Of the respondents
saying that the industry has not done a good job self policing itself,
53% blamed the insurance industry and 45% blamed legislators and/or state
5. Participants were asked: If insurance coverage
decreases, should insurance companies be forced by regulators to drop
premium rates? A whopping 93% said "yes". The polling company then asked:
If insurance coverage increases, should insurance companies be allowed
by regulators to raise rates? 86% said "yes".
6. Participants were asked if off shore insurance
companies (like Lloyds and other foreign insurers) should be more, less
or equally regulated as compared with domestic companies. Of those responding,
62% said foreign insurers should be more regulated; 36% said that the
same regulations should apply to both domestic and foreign companies and
only 2% said foreign insurers should be less regulated.
7. When asked if the court system has treated policyholders
fairly, only 18% said "yes". Of those saying that the court system has
not treated policyholders fairly, we asked "Do you believe that jury verdicts,
for cases of insurance fraud and/or bad faith, should be upheld regardless
of the consequence on the insurance industry?" 68% said "yes"; 16% said
"no"; 16% did not know.
8. When asked if punitive damage awards help to deter
insurance companies from committing bad faith and/or fraud, 87% said "yes".
9. When asked if they would support legislation that
would make it mandatory for any insurance company to suspend sales of
new policies in a state where juries have found the insurance company
to have committed fraud or bad faith three times (the "three strikes,
you're out" program), 87% of the participants said "yes".
The lesson learned from this poll is that insurance
is an industry that has not made friends with the voting public and legislators
and other elected officials who champion the cause of the insurance industry
or excuse fraud and bad faith, may find that their close ties with this
industry hurts their political aspirations. Clearly, the voters want insurance
companies to be held accountable for bad faith and favor more regulation.
POA is nonpartisan which means we can beat up on both
sides of the aisle; no Democrat or Republican is safe from our scrutiny.
We go after anyone and everyone who attempts to step on the interests
of the policyholder. We support fully those who champion our interests.
We're upfront about it and encourage member participation in our efforts.
Remember, insurance companies have well organized lobbying campaigns in
place designed to generate policyholder-unfriendly legislation and high
court rulings. But, the lobby doesn't vote; we do.
Arming yourself with facts about each candidate and
voting with your personal interests at heart is what POA wants every policyholder
in America to do. Get involved in the political process and encourage
your friends and family to do the same.
POA will update its membership, during each election
cycle, about candidates who share our group's values and which do not.
Just look at the poll numbers: we've got the power. Let's use if on Election
In the Members Only subsection,
you will find a list of candidates endorsed by POA. We also have
a "Watch list" for those who have yet to prove themselves friend or foe.
We also have a section for "Legislative Issues".
organizations are organizations that have warm, fuzzy and inviting names
like "Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse" or "Texans for Lawsuit Reform". Members
of these groups are some of the biggest perpetrators of bad faith, fraud
and/or sell unsafe or inferior products. Clearly, these organizations
want to preserve their way of doing business and continue without penalty.
Make no mistake: these organizations and others like them work against