HotSeat.JPGEven in the best of times, the insurance industry has never enjoyed the most stellar public image. For most consumers, coverage always costs too much and claims are never paid quickly enough. But in the worst of times, when insurers are accused of knowingly misleading or even cheating policyholders, the political consequences can be overwhelming.

Insurers were certainly on the hot seat in 2007, mainly because of the lingering fallout over disputed Hurricane Katrina wind-versus-water claims. There were two particularly low moments that jump to mind.

One was at the end of February, when I witnessed a Congressional bashing of the industry firsthand. Rep. Gene Taylorthe Mississippi Democrat who made it his mission to punish insurers after his own Katrina homeowners claim (since settled) was denied due to the flood exclusionwas both witness and interrogator at a hearing of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

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