The firestorm over executive bonuses at American International Group earlier this year underscores the deep distrust everyday Americans harbor for financial services companies, even before the controversial AIG bailout by taxpayers. Insurers can tell themselves they are not affected by the AIG meltdown, but they are kidding themselves.

It is certainly true that AIG’s insurance operations were not part of the problem. And it is true that insurers in general have behaved far more responsibly than their banking brethren in protecting their assets as this recession unfolded.

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