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ANY CONGRESSIONAL INQUIRY into an industry's practices deserves to be taken quite seriously.
That's certainly true of the House Financial Services Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations' ongoing review of insurers' handling of claims arising from Hurricane Katrina. The subcommittee's chairman--Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C.--indicated during last week's inaugural hearing that he's more interested in uncovering facts than in dealing with finger pointing. We couldn't agree with him more.
Let's face it, complaints about what claims insurers did and did not pay in the wake of the storm have been numerous, and have pulled politicians from both parties into the chorus. The temptation to play the demagogue is great and, unfortunately, some political figures just haven't been able to resist that temptation.
While that's understandable to a certain degree, it's not justified. Charges of insurer misconduct should be investigated and decided upon by facts, not overblown rhetoric like that which was unfortunately on display at times during last week's hearing.
This is serious business, and deserves a serious approach. While the issues immediately at hand concern mostly personal lines insurance, a commercial angle could emerge as the subcommittee pursues its work. We hope that the panel sticks to the facts, wherever the facts may ultimately lead.
And we firmly believe that the facts will speak for themselves; they needn't be accompanied by demagoguery.