Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Thanksgiving holiday is the week when business slows down. Nobody will return calls because they're all traveling home for the holidays. That means I have plenty of time to load up contacting the media.

A quick Google search has revealed a Mother Lode of investigative reporters at with almost 250 located in California alone. I'll spend the rest of my free time over the holiday composing a pitch letter to reporters in California and Illinois, which is State Farm's home state.

Now that more people are sending their stories, we might be able to get some press and tell America how State Farm is destroying our Christmas!

Interestingly, I'm still getting inquiries from people who were ripped off by a major credit card company; the case that I won by going to the web last year. I'm constantly amazed at how far and deeply the web reaches those in need.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

It just gets weirder....Today I got a form letter from "Fire Claim Manager" John Strange (I kid you not, that's his real name). Mr. Strange writes that, "I appreciate the time you have spent in bringing your concerns to our attention. You are a valued policyholder."

He's kidding, right?

If the whole process weren't so infuriating, it would be downright hilarious. I'm sitting down now to compose my response to Mr. Strange.

As a "valued policyholder", of course.

This is the letter that went out to Mr. Strange today:

"John Strange
Fire Claim Manager
State Farm Insurance
3333 Hyland Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Dear Mr. Strange:

I’m in receipt of your form letter which has done nothing to alleviate the situation regarding claim # 75-M368-089. In fact, yours is the fourth letter I’ve received from your company which apologizes for your inaction and refusal to thoroughly investigate the claim.

I have now contacted my agent, your claims manager, your Team Manager and you regarding this matter. To a man, each repeats the company line. Nobody investigating the matter.

Our insurance policy most certainly does cover the damage which is described in the claim and I am holding State Farm to its contractual obligations to cover the damages to our home.

Inasmuch as State Farm refuses to properly investigate this claim, I am reporting the companyƂ’s bad faith to the appropriate agencies, authorities and media outlets until someone at your end makes a good faith effort to resolve our claim properly.

It would make your claim that I am “a valued policyholder” far less laughable.


Rob Frankel"

Saturday, November 22, 2003

The support mail continues to pour in, starting off the day with this quickie:

"They want you to continue to pay, but they don't want to pay - ever. Find another insurance company as soon as possible. Try to get a refund for the amounts you paid to State Farm, and let them know why you transferred from their company to another.

Don't continue to feed the mongrel that bites you, kick his arse out the door and let him find his food elsewhere.

Good luck with State Farm rip-off insurance!!!

Cindy - Liverpool, New York

In the meantime, State Farm has sent me a fresh new copy of my policy for inspection. Actually, since the left hand has no idea what the right hand is doing, they've sent me three copies.

Going through the policy, picking out the exact language which shows the where and how of the State Farm rip off.

Friday, November 21, 2003

More than one investigative consumer reporter has sent a reply about this matter. In fact, I took a break from work today and tracked down no fewer than 10 California-based TV Consuemr Reporters. The Federal Trade Commission has a nifty complaint registration form, too, at . I filled it out, limiting my complaint to 2000 characters. The Feds are hearing about it, too. The interest is building.

I continue to receive excellent support and stories like this one from Todd in New York:

"Specifically addressing your "leak" situation......... my situation (actually 2) will be usefull..

Our washer had a malfunction and flooded our basement. When we say what happened, we immediately rushed and rented a wet-vac and sucked out as much water as possible. Because it was a weekend, we couldn't call the insurance company. When we called them on Monday, they send out ServiceMaster, who claimed to have removed several thousand gallons of water (not true) The tank in their truck could not have help more than 500, and in fact, it was not full, I was there and watching.

The company reported back to state farm that the carpet was fine, and there was no damage. An adjuster came out. The both claimed to have lifted the carpet to inspect for damage/mold etc. In fact neither did, and the carpet was damaged, very expensive carpet. Additionally, damage to several pieces of furniture, etc. The company refused to pay to replace the carpet, and said they would pay "replacement cost" (which is what our policy states it covers) for the damaged furniture, less depreciation, but ONLY when we had purchased the new furniture, and turned over the old furniture to their company. Eventually after several months we got re-imbursed for only 1 piece of furniture and nothing else. I felt, and it was apparent that ServiceMaster and State Farm were in cohoots together, to minimize the claims and rip-off the insured people.

In fact, we pay over 250 a month in insurance to state farm and their "fuck you" attitude came to a full head recently when I went to the company to Drop our "jet-ski" policy, and add something else.

Insurance for a jet-ski is NOT a requirement, because it had actually been used only 2 times in 2 years (21.00 a month in insurance) and it is now winter, I went in to drop it. We got a bill for 100.00 from the company, and basically they stated that we could not drop the insurance unless we sold it and not be penilized. I'd love to see this insurance rule..."

Todd is obviously a vicitm of the same "thorough investigation" techniques that State Farm tried to pawn off on me.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Today I Googled the phrase "consumer reporter," with the idea that e-mail is a cheap way of getting the news out. Then I Googled "consumer reporter" with "State Farm," figuring that might attract reporters to do a follow up story to one of their previous pieces. All it takes is one media reporter to break a story that gets picked up by the rest of the herd. My first hit was to a consumer reporter in Oakland, California, who did exactly that kind of story. I sent him a note to do a follow up on his own story that ran about a month ago.

I sent a note to the contact at The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights at, too. But I really struck gold at the FBIC: the site of Fight Bad-faith Insurance Companies, at Care to take a guess who rates second overall in their Hall of Shame for non-payment?

That's right, State Farm. And they're in second place from a field of 53 other insurance companies.

FBIC also has tons of links, including state and lawyer contacts. If you care to see the data (compiled as recently as October, 2003), check out which details State Farm's track record as follows:

"State Farm: One Of The 3 Worst U.S. Bad Faith Insurer Records!*   Very Bad Record For The #1 Largest And Most Powerful U.S. Insurer Of Bad Faith Insurance Claim Practices, Non-Payments Of Claims, An Enormous Number Of Complaints And Claimants Lawsuits, Many With Appalling Stories Of Foul Play And Consumers Being Victimized By This Insurer That Claims They Are Like A Good Neighbor !*   View State Farm's Fraud Right Here For Yourself: Numerous, Widespread And Repeated Examples Of State Farm's Bad Faith And Abusive Practices Inflicted Nationwide "Neighborly-like" Upon Consumers, Claimants And Their Own Policyholders From The Following NBC Dateline Televised Expose Viewed In Four Parts (click on one at a time to view each 15 minute segment): Part 1 ,Part 2 ,Part 3 ,Part 4 , Attesting To State Farm's Bad Faith Insurance Claim Practices. When You Are Finished You Can Read About Another Separate And Unrelated Occurrence Of Court Admissions Testimony By A Former State Farm Employee For More Examples Of Some Of This Insurer's Repeated Use Of Bad Faith Insurance Practices. You Absolutely Do Not Want To Be Insured With State Farm ... Join With Others In FBIC America's Consumer "Buy Good Boycott Bad" Faith Insurers Of This Extreme Bad Faith Insurer!   (Member Companies Of Group Include: State Farm County Mutual Insurance of Texas, State Farm Fire & Casualty Insurance, State Farm General Insurance, State Farm Indemnity, State Farm Insurance, State Farm Lloyds, State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance)."

Sounds like I made it up, right? Wrong. This is only the THIRD result I found for State Farm. Which means there are tons of people getting ripped off by these pirates. All it takes is someone to bring everyone together and then it's off to the media we go. FBIC also allows you to submit your data to help others being ripped off by State Farm and other insurance companies.

There are other sites, too, including that has its own State Farm page. It's getting late and I have to drive the kids carpool tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

A few days ago, I decided to send the pirates at State Farm a letter requesting a full copy of my original policy so that I could initiate litigation. Today, I got a response letter by mail from State Farm, informing me that a copy of my policy is being sent to me.

Good. At least I know they respond to faxes.

At 4:15 PM, the Team Manager (that's what they call the guy who supervises the guy who supervises the guy they send out to investigate what they won't cover) calls me on the phone, to tell me that he's been forwarded my e-mail from Mr. Rust. Right. Like Mr. Rust, the CEO really reads this stuff. But I figure he called within 24 hours of the e-mail, so something is working. That's one point for

The Team Manager wastes 45 minutes of my time telling me absolutely nothing new. "Why are you calling me?" I finally ask, "Just to let me know you received my letter?" The Team Manager goes on and on about how "it's much easier for me to pay a claim than not pay it." To which I respond, "Fine. Let's make your life easier. Pay the claim."

He wasn't amused.

I still don't know why he called. All he did was regurgitate the party line, repeating what the guy who supervises the guy they send out to investigate said, after the guy under him had said the same thing. Sometimes I think that every employee at State Farm has his brain wired into the same central server. Nobody does anything but quote chapter and verse of the State Farm manual.

It gets worse:

The Team Manager reads me the leak inspector's report, which says that SOMETIMES, "these events occur through natural wear and tear." Of course, when I point out that the report doesn't mention what happened THIS TIME, the Team manager has nothing to say, other than repeating how State Farm conducted a "thorough investigation in this matter."

"Thorough investigation?" I asked. "If it was so thorough, what caused the break which caused the leak?"
"I don't know," says the Team Manager. To which I replied, "If you don't know, how can you say you've conducted a thorough investigation?"

The Team Manager goes silent again. I thank him for the call and commend him for being a good State Farm soldier. I hear Hitler also had lots of guys who did what they were told without thinking.

In the meantime, the web site has already generated some good response. One person has offered me a list of disgruntled State Farm policy holders to whom I can send out for support. Another offered her story (below). If enough people sign on to the cause, we can generate enough momentum to get some media attention.

What's important here is not one guy's fight against the insurance company. It's about everyone getting screwed by State Farm. Check this out from the website:

"Hi Rob:

My family has also been taken by State Farm. My father and mother have been with State Farm over 13 years. I was added as a driver in their household to the policy about 1 year ago. I called State Farm to make some changes and they did not state that the policy would turn from a non cancellable policy to a cancellable one. When my father got the updated paperwork, he told me wrong changes were made to the policy and when I called State Farm to have them change the policy back to the original one, they refused.

I advised them that I had no authority to make changes to the policy and that I am just a driver in the household. The car I drive is in my dad's name and I am a co-signer on the lease, not vice-versa as I thought. They still refuse and use this as the excuse to make this a cancellable policy.

The policy in under Leonard and Helene (Last name withheld to maintain privacy) and my name is Gina (Last name withheld to maintain privacy).

Please keep me updated and thank you for being the voice and fighting for the "little people"


Gina (Last name withheld to maintain privacy)"

The more people that tell me their nightmare, the stronger the case gets. For everyone. Please send yours to me from the website

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Today I had a little time, so I decided to load up on public services that claim to help out people with their complaints. First stop was the Better Business Bureau, whose online presence is perfectly configured for this kind of thing. I mean, this site was built for consumer complaints. So much so, that you can type in the name of the company and if there's ever been a complaint against them, it will fill out the form for you.

It took about three nano-seconds for it to fill out a complaint against State Farm. Obviously, there had been a lot of people ahead of me. I figured that was a good thing. I filled it out, complete with the knucklehead's personal phone number instead of the main office. My thinking is that if enough big shots call this guy, he'll start to get the message.

Next stop was the California State Attorney General's office. Whaddya know, that site is perfectly configured, too, except that they do have a pre-loaded database of creepy insurance companies. I filled that one out, too, summarizing the whole case and making sure that I included the URL for I got a nice auto-response e-mail from them.

My last stop was, which is really trick, because they not only have a pre-loaded database of creepy insurance companies, they also automatically compose a letter to the CEO of the company and make sure he gets it. I typed in the facts of my case and this is what got sent:

Edward B Rust Jr., CEO



Insurance is supposed to be something dependable, right? Obviously, something's gone wrong. I'm writing with a complaint about the coverage/benefits at State Farm Insurance and the frustration it's causing me. I'm very annoyed by this!

It's a home insurance policy. For the record, my insurance plan or policy number is 71-XN-8215-2. Despite the fact that my policy covers the damage -- and was corroborated by two independent examiners -- State Farm is refusing to cover my claim. The claim is for a break in a shower pan. I am not asking State Farm to cover any damage from water that has leaked from the shower pan. I am claiming that State Farm must cover the actual break in the shower pan, which examiners have found NOT to be the result of seepage or "long standing leakage." Even the water that did leak was confirmed to have not leaked for long. The damage was reported immediately after evidence of a leak came to our attention. See for more details.

If you want my honest opinion, I've been somewhat dissatisfied from the start. Because of this, I'll probably find another insurance carrier when my policy expires. Will I recommend your firm to people I know? No way!

Here's what I would like State Farm Insurance to do about this: Repair the shower pan break and cover the costs of materials and labor associated with the break required to restore the shower to its normal state of function.

I hope to hear from you in a timely manner so that this problem can be resolved quickly and dependably.

Rob Frankel"

PlanetFeedback also has a cool feature that allows you to send copies of the letter to anyone you want, including pre-addressed copies to your elected representatives! So I checked the box and sent copies to Congress: Federal House Brad Sherman (D) Federal House Howard Berman (D) Federal Senate Barbara Boxer (D)

As long as I was at it, I Googled a couple of consumer advocates and sent them copies, too. Guys like David Horowitz and Tim Duffy. Tomorrow, I'm going to see if Ralph Nader has a contact link.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Chances are that if you're reading this, you've already been to If you haven't, you should go there to read up on just how criminal the insurance company is. Have you been ripped off by State Farm? If so, go to the site and tell me your story. Then post your other messages here.

I'm using this site to post my progress in the case for all to see. And just in case you think this doesn't work, let me tell you that last year, a major credit card company tried to rip me off for $3000. Then I took my case to the web. The company not only refunded my entire $3000, but ended up being the defendant in a nation-wide class action law suit.

Yeah, the web works.

The key to the whole thing is gathering popular support. So the more stories I get, the stronger the case. So please visit and then come back here for more updates.

Wow. I can hardly believe this one: Not more than two days after they denied my claim, State Farm sends me a letter asking me to insure my car with them. I couldn't believe it, so I returned their materials to them with this accompanying letter:

"November 17, 2003

Coralee Nickel
State Farm Insurance
17277 Ventura Blvd. #201
Encino, CA 91316

Dear Coralee:

I am consistently amazed State Farm’s inability to service clients, but this is going too far. After rejecting my valid claim, how can you possibly think that I’d buy additional coverage from you?

Why would I want to buy auto insurance from State Farm? So that you CAN’T cover my damages when something happens to me on the road?

I am returning your marketing materials to you (enclosed) so that you can send them on to some other unsuspecting victim.

In the meantime, I will continue my efforts to collect payment for damages via


Rob Frankel"