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Farmers Insurance

January 14, 1994

* I am writing regarding your Dec. 7 articles "Insurance Top Concern for Laguna Fire Victims" in Orange County and "Putting a Premium on Trust" in other editions.

These articles are described as part of a series that is focused on the lives of the Laguna Beach residents of nine homes destroyed on Buena Vista Way, five of which are insured by Farmers.

It is clear that these articles have no balance since they focus almost entirely on the particular complaints of an individual, insured by Farmers, to the near exclusion of other, satisfied residents of the block.

Most disturbing, the editing of the story read by the majority of your readers was absolutely inexcusable. This story did everything to create a negative impression among readers. From the headline, "Putting a Premium on Trust," to the text, millions of readers of this story were left with the unmistakable message that they cannot trust Farmers Insurance.

Farmers is extremely proud of our response to the Southland fires--our claims team and service to customers are second to none. We have expedited relief to hundreds of claimants and we are paying in excess of $80 million in claims.

More than the harm done by these articles to Farmers' reputation as a business, which dates from our founding here in Los Angeles in 1928, we are concerned about the personal pain they have caused our agents and employees. To produce an effective response to a major disaster requires extreme efforts of many people. We have claims adjusters from around the country who left their homes and families on a moment's notice to arrive in Laguna Beach when the fires were still burning.

Our agents instantly began calling their customers and surveying the stricken neighborhoods to learn who needed assistance. They offered to do whatever was necessary, including taking people into their own homes. Hundreds of Farmers' employees, agents and district managers worked around the clock to provide service that was not contained in any job description.

We have highly motivated people who are committed to doing whatever it takes to bring our customers satisfaction. So it hurts to see their efforts discounted in a story focusing in such a negative way on one claim. Bear in mind that your stories concentrated on one of more than 1,700 claims we received, more than 100 of which were totally destroyed homes.

JOHN C. MILLEN

Director of Media Relations

Farmers Insurance, Los Angeles

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