Talks Halt Between Farmers Insurance and State of Texas - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/11/02

Talks Halt Between Farmers Insurance and State of Texas

Talks between Farmers Insurance and the state of Texas have temporarily stalled out. Farmers says it wants to continue providing Texans with homeowners coverage. But that won't happen unless Farmers can settle a dispute with the state.

Farmers Insurance notified its Texas policy holders last week that it could no longer continue providing homeowners coverage because of a state imposed court order. The state alleges Farmers was involved in illegal and unethical practices, namely overcharging its customers. So now, Farmers is fighting to stay in the homeowners insurance business in Texas, a fight that continues still today.

On Friday Governor Rick Perry made a campaign stop in the Lubbock. The Governor remains steadfast in his position on the Farmers Insurance issue. "We filed suit on the second largest insurer in the state because of unethical and illegal activities that we discovered," says Governor Perry. The Governor says an investigation of Farmers Insurance is ongoing and he says the state will not allow Farmers or any company to bully or take advantage of Texans.

Just as the Governor remains unwavering in his position, Farmers Insurance wants its policy holders to know it remains resolute in its position on this issue as well. "It's Farmers opinion that we need to stay in business in this state and they'll do everything they can to stay in the state," says Lubbock Farmers Agent Joe Schoenig. Schoenig says three days of talks between the state and Farmers have stalled out. He says Farmers' last offer to have an independent party audit its records was denied by the state. "And so far, they haven't accepted that."

So, for the time being talks have died, in part because all parties involved are at a point of exhaustion according to Schoenig. Farmers Agent Lee Ann Edwards says this break can't last long. She says there is a real urgency about this issue because of the amount of people it involves. "The talks need to continue. We can't wait. We can't wait until the election is over. We need to put this behind us. There are 700,000 policy holders out there in limbo right now," says Edwards.

Farmers Insurance officials are confident they will work this out with state lawmakers. They say they will be right back at the table next week.

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