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Published: Thursday, 4/20/2006

Clarifying insurance editorial

An April 13 editorial, "What? I'm Not Covered?", explores many issues related to insurer profitability and risk exposure that need clarification.

Unfortunately, key figures central to the editorial started as badly misused information in the Los Angeles Times article cited. That article omitted the crucial fact that 2005's favorable industry earnings were totals for all 50 states, and blended several types of coverage. In fact, each state and type of insurance presents a different and often less rosy picture than aggregated figures.

Also, it should be noted that each state heavily regulates insurance rates. Florida hurricane losses cannot be subsidized by profits in another state; nor can Ohio rates be increased because of predictions about the upcoming Gulf Coast hurricane season.

As the editorial noted, catastrophe modeling is one valuable tool insurers rely upon to accurately manage risk exposure. Based on both long- and shorter-term evidence, leading government and academic experts believe the latest science about increased frequency and severity of storms in the U.S. over the next two decades cannot - and should not - be ignored.

The editorial implied that all insurers advocate government intervention or takeover of insurance markets for natural catastrophes.

Not true.

The American Insurance Association and our more than 400 member insurers believe in the power of the private marketplace, and that government intervention distorts markets to consumers' detriment.

Our members want to remain in the business of insurance, and given proper tools to evaluate and manage natural catastrophe risk, they can do so - in Ohio, along the Gulf, and in every corner of America.

A vigorous national dialogue about maintaining robust, healthy property insurance markets in every state is under way and timely. Hurricane season begins in June, and tornado season is already here. Let's base this debate on real facts.

Marc Racicot

President

American Insurance Assn.

Washington, D.C.

Blade Columnist S. Amjad Hussain is among the few who have given credibility to the report "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," written by professors Steven Walt (University of Chicago) and John Mearsheimer (Harvard).

Dr. Hussain must have been doing cartwheels when news of the report began circulating in media circles several weeks ago. After all, according to Dr. Hussain, every ill in the Islamic world (and most other international problems) can be blamed on Israel.

His column was just the "kernel of proof" that anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic, and conspiracy theorists love. After all, if it is written by someone in academia, it must be true!

What Dr. Hussain failed to mention was the overwhelming condemnation of the report from a wide cross section of academics, political leaders, columnists, diplomats, and scholars.

Possibly the best response to Mr. Walt and Mr. Mearsheimer's polemic came from former White House adviser David Gergen.

Mr. Gergen, who served under Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton, is currently a professor of public service at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and director of its Center for Public Leadership.

He wrote: "Not only are these charges wildly at variance with what I have personally witnessed in the Oval Office over the years, they also impugn the loyalty and the unstinting service to America's national security by public figures like Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, and many others. As a Christian, let me add that it is also wrong and unfair to call into question the loyalty of millions of American Jews who have faithfully supported Israel while also working tirelessly and generously to advance America's cause, both at home and abroad. They are among our finest citizens and should be praised, not pilloried."

Ricki Rubin

Chairman

Jewish Community

Relations Council

United Jewish Council

of Greater Toledo

Perrysburg wants to pull TARTA service. A committee appointed by its mayor wants to investigate why no more than 25,000 riders board there annually. Most residents who live in Perrysburg can easily afford a vehicle. Gee, that was hard to figure out.

However, what about the 25,000 riders who do board there annually?

The mayor was quoted as saying "I definitely don't think we get a million dollars worth of service." Let me guess, do the mayor and committee members have cars? I bet I know the answer.

I have driven the Perrysburg Call A Ride. It's very busy. There are passengers going to work, appointments, shopping, and the library. There are numerous elderly patrons, physically challenged passengers in wheelchairs, and quite a few teenagers.

One elderly lady told me what a godsend Call A Ride was. After many years, she was finally able to go to the beauty shop and store by herself.

By her smile, it appeared Perrysburg does get a million dollars worth of service. What about wheelchair-bound patrons who cannot afford a wheelchair-accessible vehicle? I bet it's worth a million bucks to them. These are Perrysburg citizens. They, too, pay taxes.

The mayor said "this committee is seeing empty buses going by and it's bothering them." Where are they watching from? The windows of their luxury sedans while pulling out of Beaner's with their morning latte? Driving one person to a vehicle?

For environmental reasons alone, Perrysburg should be promoting Call A Ride and Park and Ride, not trying to discontinue it.

Then again, this comes from a city that once had a mayor quoted as saying "No Money, No Comey."

I guess the message to you working class folks in Perrysburg is "No car? You won't get far!" You're about to be stranded.

Cindy Betz

TARTA bus driver

West Central Avenue

It turns out that the Pizzuti Cos. have a little bit of a bias against the idea of a new hockey arena on the East Side after all. Should we really be surprised?

Here's a two-part question for the marketing consultant geniuses who have been hired for their unbiased expertise on the subject of a proposed new hockey arena:

How many Detroit Red Wings fans are there in the Toledo area, and how many Columbus Blue Jackets fans are there in the Toledo area?

Let's see now. None of our honest, trustworthy politicians is really biased against the East Side, right?

Is anyone else waiting for the other shoe - I mean, is anyone else waiting for the other ice skate - to drop?

DANIEL JAKSETIC

Morrison Drive

I'm not sure how much wheat or corn is grown in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Nigeria, or the other OPEC nations, but it seems to me if oil is $70 a barrel, wheat should be $70 a bushel. Too simplistic? Why?

Also what happened to the President's great idea to build new refineries on our closed and vacant military bases?

Oh, by the way, let's drill for our known oil reserves off the coasts of Florida and California, and the Alaskan wasteland, whether Govs. Jeb Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger like it or not, and the same to the snail darter crowd.

Enough already. Time to take control of our own destiny in oil and natural gas resources. Tell OPEC to get lost and go pound sand.

ROBERT SAWYER

Holland

I sincerely hope that Paul Ormond enjoys his compensation and is able to spend every last dime. We all know that you can't take it with you when you depart this world.

Something that none of us will ever see in life: a Brinks truck following a hearse to the cemetery.

GARY COLLIER

Blackstone Drive



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