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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

A Letter to My Mutual Insurance Company

by Nathan Schneider

January 11, 2018

State Farm Customer Service
One State Farm Plaza
Bloomington, Illinois 61710

January 11, 2018

To Whom It May Concern,

As a policyholder of State Farm Mutual I am writing to request proxy form for the upcoming annual meeting. Please send one for me at the address below at your earliest convenience.

I would also like to register a complaint. As a mutual insurance company owned by its policyholders, State Farm should more actively encourage policyholders to participate in governance. In an age when online portals and email are the norm, requiring a mailed letter to request a ballot constitutes an outright hindrance to such participation. It would seem appropriate to me for policyholders to be able to vote through the online portal, and to receive an email reminder for when they might do so. Through the portal, they might also learn about the issues facing the company and the board candidates. Anything less strikes me as an act of purposeful disenfranchisement.

Far from being something to hide from, policyholder ownership should be part of what makes State Farm strong. It places the company in a long tradition of people-powered business that depends more on cooperation than greed and competition. It insulates the company from the profit-seeking short-termism that burdens investor-owned firms. And at a time when many people, especially young people, harbor deep skepticism about corporate power, policyholder ownership is a way of setting State Farm apart and winning over a new generation of customers. Encouraging participation in governance would help the company more fully benefit from this model, and it would signal to policyholders that the company takes their ownership seriously.

Thank you for considering my concerns and for sending my proxy form.

Best wishes,
Nathan Schneider