Like his grandfather and father before him, Edward B. Rust Jr. became the chairman and chief executive officer of State Farm Insurance Companies…Rust’s grandfather, Adlai H. Rust, was a young lawyer when he helped George Mecherle found State Farm and became his right-hand man. Mecherle’s son, Raymond, took over the presidency of the company in 1937, and when Raymond died in 1954, Adlai Rust took over as chief executive officer. His son, Edward B. Rust Sr., joined State Farm in 1941, succeeded him as CEO in 1967, and was named chairman in 1983…
In August 1985 Rust’s father died at the age of 66 and his namesake, only 35 years old, was promptly appointed the new chief executive officer.
With Rust’s family fortunes so intertwined with State Farm’s history, it was difficult clearly to distinguish the corporate culture from the CEO’s personal worldview… The company was so committed to controlling costs in the name of its policyholders that its corporate culture appeared to take on the zeal of religion, and to many it went too far….
In 1989 State Farm was accused in a policyholder lawsuit of being too conservative in maintaining reserves, with the effect of trimming dividend payments to policyholders… During the 1990s Rust would face a number of legal problems that critics said were an outgrowth of State Farm’s inbred culture and obsession with cost controls…
In 1998 State Farm was “rocked by a string of blistering punitive damage decisions,” as reported by BusinessWeek (“State Farm: What’s Happening to the Good Neighbor?” November 8, 1999).
[In Utah], the company was fined $25 million in punitive damages, in part for the “systematic destruction of documents” and “systematic manipulation of individual claim files to conceal claim mishandling.
With this background as reference, SLABBED turns to the Property Insurance Coverage Law Blog where policyholder attorney Chip Merlin pops the question: Should the Rust Family Stay in State Farm’s Power and Ownership Given the Recent Record of Policyholder and Corporate Citizen Ethics.
State Farm lost its most significant claims case Continue reading “Merlin pops the question: Should Rust family stay in State Farm’s power and ownership given the recent record of policyholder and corporate citizen ethics?”