Farmers Insurance Fighting Tooth and Nail to Stay in Texas - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/24/02

Farmers Insurance Fighting Tooth and Nail to Stay in Texas

Farmers Insurance and state officials still don't see eye to eye. The second largest insurer in Texas is in a standoff with the state at the negotiating table. Farmers agents are now holding meetings around the state, including one this week in Lubbock. The meetings are part of what Farmers Insurance calls its "Get the Truth Out" campaign.

"I've been up and down a lot of roller coasters in my life and this has been one of the most devastating roller coasters I've ever ridden on," says Lubbock agent Jim White.

White says he remains confident the two sides will work things out. The company plans to stop writing new policies and stop renewing current ones in November. Farmers says a court order is forcing them out.

Governor Rick Perry's office accused the company of gouging its customers and filed suit in August, but Farmers was quick to fire back. The company says the state is making an example of it for political reasons.

"I've been an agent for 13 years and to have that stripped away because the state won't listen to the truth, to me that's not good for free enterprise, for Texans, or for anybody involved," says Lubbock agent Stan Cribbs.

Even if Farmers does fight back and win, there are many other obstacles for insurance companies in Texas right now. 9 of the top 10 companies lost money last year, due in large part to soaring black mold claims. Texas is also one of the highest risk states for homeowners insurance because of our severe weather. Farmers' agents say the industry and state laws are in need of major reform, or Texas homeowners will be paying even more in the future.

"The mold claims have been a big contributor to this problem," says Cribbs. "This thing's turning into a monster from the mold claims."

Right now, Texans are paying some of the highest premiums for homeowners insurance in the country. Weather is something we can't control, but Farmers agents say there are many other things we can control in Texas with good legislation.

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