Note from a formerly satisfied customer

Mr. Bruce Marlow

President and CEO

21st Century Insurance Company

6301 Owensmouth Ave.

Woodland Hills, CA 91367

(818) 704-3700

Dear Mr. Marlow:

Allow me to introduce myself. I have had my automobile insurance through 21st Century since I came to California seven years ago. In that period, our relationship has been ideal: I haven’t made any claims, and you haven’t given me any grief about paying them.

[I gather the company pursued somewhat different policy after the Northridge quake, but that, and the little bit of corruption the company engaged in with Insurance Commissioner Quackenbush in connection with it, was before I was a customer or you were an employee, so it would be rude of me to mention that unfortunate history.]

To be honest, I must admit to having been bothered by reports from my lawyer friends that the company tends to be unreasonably slow and stingy when one of its customers is at fault in an accident, but paying $700 a year for $100,000/$300,000 coverage in Los Angeles is a pretty sweet deal, and my bad conscience about how you might treat someone I plowed into wasn’t enough to overcome my basic stinginess and lethargy.

However, the story in last week’s LA Times was too much for me. If you want to make a million bucks’ worth of campaign contributions to Republican state senate candidates a day after the disclosure cutoff, and launder it through a bunch of county committees to evade the contribution limits, I suppose there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

However, I can make sure that the next time you do it none of that money will have come from me. If the company had been at least a little apologetic after you got caught, I might have let it pass, but reading your flack explaining in the morning paper how hunky-dory everything was just about spoiled my breakfast.

I’m pleased to report that esurance.com offers a fully competitive quote. I’ll be urging all of my friends, including the 800 people per average day who read my weblog, to find new carriers.

Very truly yours,

Mark Kleiman

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com