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Monday, January 4, 2010

Big Ol’ Goofy World (Thanks, John Prine for my Title)

Am I causing an epiphany for anyone out there when I say that living in the information age is a pretty cool deal but dadgum if it isn’t, at the same time, a good way to become aware of some really goofy stuff.

Goofy: take the poor old Russians who just had their vodka double in price overnight from 30 cents to 60 cents because their government thinks that the citizens are drinking too much. Hell, if I lived in Russia, I would want to be drunk, too. It amazes me that I can fend off drunkenness here, as screwed up as this place is. But
I bet the average Russian really gets it: the rich will not be affected in their drinking habits one bit because the extra 30 cents doesn’t matter. And the drunk-rate will most likely not slip much because it doesn’t take a whole lot of technology to make vodka in the bath tub, assuming of course that you got a place with a bathtub in it. I guess getting a Russian to give up his vodka is equivalent to getting a politician to give up his spin. Too bad the military is so strong inside Russia, or we might get to see a Vodka Rebellion.

More Goofier: take the poor old Kenyans who are suffering because the real estate in Nairobi is sky-high because the Somali pirates are free market capitalists and are investing the millions extorted from shipping and insurance companies in real estate and business ventures in Nairobi, Dubai, and Djibouti. It’s plenty goofy: do you root for the pirates who are using a natural resource to make a better life and to get out of Somalia which is constantly at some sort of war, or do you hate the pirates for driving up the costs of stuff and well just for being pirates? I am beating the real estate agents in the aforementioned country are pretty much rooting for the pirates. Hey, robber barons will pop up wherever to make a profit off whatever. But the way I see it in my good-old-goofy way is that there are three differences between the Somali entrepreneurs who have millions fall from the skies and the good old boys on Wall Street who have millions fall from the sky: the Somalis are black; they are poor; and on occasion Navy Seals hold them accountable. How nice it would be, huh, if the Navy Seals held the pirates of Wall Street accountable.

Most Goofiest: take that everyone who can type, including me, has been complaining about one dysfunction of government or another. Recently, I wrote about how in the worst and goofiest of times, someone in the state of Delaware (I still, after 6 weeks of searching, do not know who) decided that if I wanted a thirty day supply of non-generic medication I would have to pay an extra 40 bucks at my pharmacist to get it. OK to avoid a 40 buck surcharge, I can switch pharmacists, and I did already drop one prophylactic medication and will suffer the occasional consequences.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE: not more than three or four days after writing the pols and talking to Medco about the rate hike on drugs, I get my auto insurance’s semi-annual policy and notice that it has gone up higher than the ass on a giraffe. I’d religiously popped in and out of internet companies’ websites to see if Nationwide’s rates were comparable with others, and they were always within numbers where I would not want to change for a few bucks. So, I figure what the hay, I will email Delaware’s Insurance Commissioner to find out what gives.

Well, what gives was the commissioner’s granting Nationwide 14.6 percent in rate increases since May of 2008. And those increases are of course compounded. So, I write back and ask for an explanation of what data the commissioner uses to determine if a company gets a rate-increase or not. Of course, a bureaucrat gave me a mini-lecture on what it takes for a company to stay in business, but I did not complain. Instead, I asked for a record of increase-grants for other companies from May 2008 to November 2009 and for an explanation about what data companies provide when requesting a rate increase. Then, I get rejected because first, all the records are not in computers but in individual-files and second, the information provided by the insurance companies is PROPRIETARY and not available to the public. OK, I do get what proprietary means (I find all the skunking around and secrecy created by insurance companies under the shields of proprietary rights to be,well,skunky.) I email back: OK don’t give me the data on the insurance companies’ actuarial process just give me the increases which as far as I am concerned should be a public record.(1) I got an answer that I do have a case number (DOI Case# 91736) and that my questions were being moved on to yet another public servant for examination. (2)

Of course, I am emailing copies of my correspondences to my local pols because the Insurance Commissioner’s Office is, also. (3) So far, all that copying has got me advice, in the form of a “should-have,” to shop better and an unofficial remark that I am another one of those dudes that wants the government to do everything for me. But, what’s the commissioner for if she isn’t going to put a slow down on rates in the worst of economic times? And if I ever get the data and if it shows all the companies got rate increase, what good would have the gain been for shopping better? And who has oversight on the commissioner’s office? And I guess my local pols think it’s OK that the government handed out 14.6 percent rate increases, but it’s my entire fault because I did not shop rightly.

OK, that’s an assumption because I have not heard from the pols personally since writing to the commissioner way back on November 30 nor have I heard from the insurance commissioner since my questions were “forwarded” on December 17. I am going to be patient because of the holidays and because I know the gears and sprockets of government spin slowly regardless of the time of year.

1. Individual rate increases for all other companies are not in the computer as such. Each individual file must be gone through to review and find this information. Additionally, these files contain proprietary information and not available to the public.
Insurance is a business and has to solvent in order to pay claims and do business in Delaware. Rates are made in accordance with past claims and loss experience.
2. I will send your request to and Rates and Forms Department to see if they can answer your questions.
3. From: Myles Denise (DOI) []
Sent: Monday, November 30, 2009 11:40 AM
To: Crane Mitch G (DOI)
Cc: Venables Robert (LegHall); Lee Biff (LegHall); Wood Bonnie (LegHall); 'Greg Wood'
Subject: RE: Nationwide Premium Increase


Anonymous said...

I admire your persistence.

Anonymous said...

I've always rooted for the pirates. 100 years from now it will be cool to sympathize because they'll be telling stories of Mutumbe Blackbeard and he'll be the hero. Of course, the Halloween costume will leave something to be desired.

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