Letters

From the week of November 23, 2000

Insure Thing

Farm report: We've lived through some of these, um, manipulations at the hands of State Farm ("Snake Killer," Laura Laughlin, November 16). We see these abuses every day, at the hands of many insurance companies. Consumers of my industry's wares and members of my industry alike are made to suffer. The consumer fraud is immeasurable.

I'm in Illinois but I am a former resident of Phoenix. I moved to Springfield about 10 years ago to help my father with his collision repair shop. In standing up for ourselves and for the consumer, we made friction with State Farm, eventually leading to litigation against the practices of the company. On October 18, we emerged victorious with (much to our surprise) a $24.3 million jury award. Through the years of gathering the documentation necessary and through common trauma of the abuses, we have established quite the loose network of truly stellar people willing to stand up for what is right. I must say that you did an excellent job with your coverage inasmuch as you mentioned most of the people we've grown to know.

Perhaps with the help of folks like you, the consuming public will see a bit more of what was promised in their policies, and third-party insurers will be less likely to act in a similar manner. All we ever wanted is what is fair. Thank goodness for guys like Cal Thur.

Know that there is still more out there.

Wade Ebert
via Internet

Claim dumper: Your article was a disturbing awakening to the practices of my insurance company. I appreciate the effort that you have put in to the story and realize the guts required to go after such a large company. Honestly, I can't understand how this company is still in business. Arizona insurance officials should seriously look into the tactics of the "good neighbor" and revoke its privileges to offer policies in this state. As of tomorrow, I will be searching for a new insurance company.

Name withheld by request

Fang mail: I forwarded your article to every attorney I know. Great article, well done. Sorry state of affairs, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Your paper is to be commended for publishing this; most papers would run the other way.

I own a body shop and deal with all insurers, so I know firsthand the practices many insurers follow throughout the country.

Roy Smalley
Carrollton, Texas

Snake oil: I recently read your story regarding State Farm Insurance Co. I must say, I was impressed with both the depth and breadth of the reporting involved. Additionally, the writing was first-rate. I offer this compliment, not as a simple "State Farm insured," but as a chiropractic physician who has dealt with State Farm in court and in claims review. I'm particularly impressed with the time and lead chasing I'm sure this story involved, and with the grasp of the nuance that the insurer "drags its feet" until the insured feels fortunate to settle for any amount.

Nick St. Hilaire
St. Albans, Vermont

Speaking Volumes

Noise job: I just want to congratulate you on a virtually spectacular job with the article about Alma and Patrick Gates ("Big Audio Dynamite," James Hibberd, November 9). I have talked to Alma Gates on many occasions, mostly by Internet or the www.Termpro.com chat room. I have yet to meet "The Queen of Car Audio," but I cannot wait until I do. Alma Gates is the person who inspired me to get into car audio and to love the sport that's in a class of its own.

This article gave me a reason to love car audio and competing. I am not a dB Drag Racing competitor just yet. I am in the process of building a car for the Super Street 1-2 Class. I am constantly told I'm crazy by anyone who asks what I am doing.

Mike Zadler
Chicago

Deaf threat: The event described in your article reminded me of a similar event I attended some 25 years ago. Namely, a tractor pull contest at Kemper Arena in Kansas City. Needless to say, the sound created by these competitors within the confines of an arena was deafening. I haven't attended such an event since, and have no desire to do so. The only statement in the entire article that made any sense to me was the quote: "It's a really stupid show. It's completely idiotic." Why anyone would become so obsessed with a "hobby" deliberately calculated to annoy is beyond me.

Incidentally, for those dedicated to this pastime, they still have a ways to go to equal the sound effect of a U.S. Air Force vehicle tested back in the early 1950s. The Air Force converted two F-84F Thunderstreak jet fighters to test nearly 6,000 horsepower turboprop engines for supersonic flights. One undesirable side effect of the installation was that the sound waves generated by the supersonic propeller blades rendered the ground crew nauseous! The program was eventually terminated, but the last I knew, one of the test aircraft was mounted on a pylon at the entrance to the Bakersfield, California, airport -- perhaps we'll see "boomers" visiting the site to pay homage to the pioneers of their "craft."

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