AIG Three-Peats!

Once again AIG placed dead last in the Harris Interactive “Reputation Quotient” survey released last week. It is the third year in a row that AIG has been listed as America’s least reputable company.  It would have been a five-peat if not for Freddie Mac’s slightly lower rating in 2010.

AIG maintained the bottom spot despite undertaking a massive rebranding effort over the last three years.  AIG renamed its property and casualty insurance arm Chartis in 2009 in an attempt to escape AIG’s negative image.  In late 2012, AIG decided that people hated Chartis, anyway, so it returned to the AIG name.

It has certainly been a difficult time for AIG and its member companies (American Home, Granite State, Illinois National, Lexington, and National Union, to name a few) to defend insurance coverage litigation.  But it is not just AIG that jurors hate.  Juries have an increasingly negative view of the insurance industry as a whole, as evidenced by a recent DRI poll.  The DRI survey found that 59% of jurors are inclined to favor the policyholder in insurance coverage litigation.  Only 10% were favorably inclined towards insurers.

Despite the billions of dollars the insurance industry spends on lobbyists and slick advertising campaigns promising policyholders they are “like a good neighbor” or are “in good hands”, too many people have seen the real side of their insurance companies and know better.  It is no surprise that many insurers, and AIG in particular, will do anything to avoid a jury trial.

The insurance industry has not always been held in such low regard.  But the public’s current cynicism towards insurers is well deserved.   If the industry spent a fraction of its marketing or lobbying budget on training claims adjusters how to treat policyholders fairly, and not as adversaries on every significant claim, perhaps the industry’s image would not be at such a low point.