Insurance Customers Concerned about WA Referendum Letters

October 22, 2007

Some Washington customers of State Farm insurance say a letter from the company about Referendum 67 seemed more like a threat than voter information.

“Referendum 67 could cost your family as much as $205 a year in higher premiums. The statewide impact is estimated at $650 million annually, according to research firm, Milliman Inc. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin,” the State Farm letter reads.

It goes on to say that the referendum would bring more frivolous lawsuits that would clog the court system and increase insurance costs.

Insurance companies have invested nearly $10 million in the campaign to kill the measure and the Insurance Fair Conduct Act, which R-67 would enact.

The letter from State Farm repeats what the coalition has been telling voters.

“What benefit will the public realize from its annual $650 million ‘investment?’ More teachers? Better roads? Improved public safety? No. What we can expect are more frivolous lawsuits clogging our court system and increasing our insurance costs,” the letter states.

A State Farm policyholder, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation, sent the Seattle Post-Intelligencer a copy of the letter and said it angered him.

“It felt like a threat,” he said. “And because of that letter, I’m going to vote for the referendum.”

State Farm spokeswoman Nancy Carpenter said the letter was simply an effort to inform voters, who also happen to be insurance policyholders. Carpenter said copies of the letter were provided to about 300 State Farm agents in Washington, who could send them to their customers at their own discretion.

State Farm is a member of the coalition of the coalition fighting R-67.

“We felt it was important to let the customers know why we feel Referendum 67 should not become law,” Carpenter said.

Sue Evans, who speaks on behalf of the Approve 67 campaign, said proponents had been aware of the letter. She said it represented the same “fear mongering” that was “the whole basis for the campaign.”

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