AIG and CV Starr: The Spies Who Shagged Us

They knew which factories to burn, which bridges to blow up, which cargo ships could be sunk in good conscience. They had pothole counts for roads used for invasion and head counts for city blocks marked for incineration.

They weren’t just secret agents. They were secret insurance agents. These undercover underwriters gave their World War II spymasters access to a global industry that both bankrolled and, ultimately, helped bring down Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

Newly declassified U.S. intelligence files tell the remarkable story of the ultra-secret Insurance Intelligence Unit, a component of the Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the CIA, and its elite counterintelligence branch X-2.

Though rarely numbering more than a half dozen agents, the unit gathered intelligence on the enemy’s insurance industry, Nazi insurance titans and suspected collaborators in the insurance business. But, more significantly, the unit mined standard insurance records for blueprints of bomb plants, timetables of tide changes and thousands of other details about targets, from a brewery in Bangkok to a candy company in Bergedorf.

“They used insurance information as a weapon of war,” said Greg Bradsher, a historian and National Archives expert on the declassified records.

I am reminded of those war tactics today and the bodyguard of lies that have been so carefully constructed over the years to conceil some ugly truths about the insurance business. At slabbed we’re firm believers in knowing our adversaries and this story from the archives of the LA Times gives excellent background on the orgins of AIG. Continue reading “AIG and CV Starr: The Spies Who Shagged Us”

About that State Farm Shredder Truck……

By the Spring of 2006 I had settled my insurance claims and we began planning the rebuilding process that continues to this day. The practice was overloaded with work as my flooded out construction clients were booming with rebuilding related business. I still remember that day in the late spring of 2006 when Steve called my cell phone, “The shredder truck is at (the State Farm) office”. He told me he had noticed the truck there more than once.  This office like all State Farm offices in Bay-Waveland were flooded out just 7 months before.

By March of 2006 State Farm had denied most of the claims for wind coverage where there was also flood damage. In that instance, State Farm would have also previously adjusted the flood claim and paid it. This detail is worth noting now because it is important to the concept of “double-dipping” where an insurer gets to take credit for NFIP payments even if it over apportioned total damage to NFIP (more on that a bit later).

As featured in the 4th video clip of the CNN special by Kathleen Koch featured in our memory lane post, by March of 2006 angry policyholders were picketing local State Farm offices. Steve had noticed the shredder truck at one and given what had happened to the policyholders since the fall of 2005, drew the only conclusion his experiences with State Farm would let him. They were destroying evidence in advance of the litigation. To memorialize the event he bought a disposable camera and took some pictures of the truck. He gave them to Zach Butterworth. Continue reading “About that State Farm Shredder Truck……”