State Farm Looks to Engage Cycling Community

Responding to criticism of an ad depicting a humiliated office worker forced to bike to his job due to high gas prices, State Farm Director of Marketing Communications Tim Van Hoof writes:

I’m sorry this commercial offended anyone. State Farm has been a
supporter of bicycle safety through the thousands of bicycle rodeos
we’ve held for children throughout the US and Canada, and we are open
to discussion about how State Farm may be able to work with the
bicycling community in the future.

This advertisement is part of an overall campaign where we attempt
to capture consumers talking about points in their lives. Our intention
is to recognize and empathize with these everyday challenges, and
provide ways State Farm can help.

State Farm is also very concerned about doing what we can to improve
health, safety and the environment in our communities. If you’d like
more information on what we’re doing, go to

To View the overall ad campaign please go to:

Thanks for writing, Tim. Streetsbloggers, what can State Farm and other insurers do to improve conditions for cyclists and others who routinely get around without a car? Pay-by-the-mile auto insurance? Cessation of the use of the word "accident" in referring to every car crash? An auto fatality trust fund to pay for safe streets initiatives?

Other suggestions?

Story Originally Filed by Brad Aaron

  • Make it easier to get umbrella insurance that covers problems happening while borrowing a car, without having to get an auto policy.

    Many people who have significant savings buy what’s called “umbrella insurance”, which protects them in the case of something happening that creates significant liability, like someone getting hurt while visiting their home, or hurting someone in an auto collision. But this insurance always requires the holder to already have auto insurance as well, which provides some liability coverage and the umbrella just adds more liability.

    But what if you don’t own a car and thus don’t have auto insurance? Most insurers don’t know what to do. A couple will write a special auto policy without there being an actual car to insure, but even then the person getting the insurance is paying for auto insurance even though they don’t drive.

    The insurers should create a special type of umbrella insurance for non-auto-owners. It could provide the same liability protection, including anything that might happen while borrowing or renting a car, but take into account the fact that the non-car-owner probably drives extremely rarely.

  • Lower auto insurance rates for car owners who commute by bike!

  • There are a LOT of things the insurance industry could do to make life easier for cyclists.

    I live in LA and I don’t own a car, but once every month or two I’ll rent a car for a long weekend to go out to the desert, or the Sierras, or to visit family far afield, and the insurance costs are always greater than the actual rental costs (Enterprise has great weekend specials). I would LOVE to have a pay-by-the-mile or pay-by-the-day insurance plan that only covered me while I was actually in possession of the vehicle, or umbrella liability insurance for those of little means. I have a perfect driving record. Paying $23/day for insurance on a $15/day rental car seems insane.

    It would also be great if I wasn’t penalized by the insurance company for not having continuous coverage through the periods in which I don’t have a car at all (if, for some reason, I were to be forced to own one in the future). I still have a driving record, and I’m insured when I drive, don’t punish me for not driving all the time.

    I’ve also fought with insurance companies (and the Colorado DMV) over whether it’s possible to both own a car, and not drive it. I had a vehicle when I lived in Boulder, but I only used it once or twice a year for backcountry trips. I wanted to register it for non-operation for most of the year, and not be forced to pay for insurance on it, but somehow that was a legally inconceivable situation to the state and the insurance company. If you own a vehicle, you must be driving it all the time in their minds.

    When I’m hit by a car, and I’m injured, I’d like to not have to fight with the insurance companies over who is supposed to pay my medical bills. I have health insurance, but if the medical costs are the result of a vehicle accident, they want the car insurance company to pay. In the meantime, I’m screwed.

  • Dave

    Mocking cyclists is the same as empathizing with them?
    That’s bullshit.

    Screw ’em, they’ll never see a dime of my money.

  • Look, cyclists are in a tight spot – they are in between driving their cars to avoid being humiliated by their girly pants and paying for gasoline that is priced as the market sees fit.

    When people are humiliated into riding their bikes, and totally fagging out, State Farm is there – to offer you a way out! Stop the queer-sanity! Buy their cheap policy so you can fill your gas tank for one week with the savings.

    You home bike queens are over reacting.

    Chill. State Farm is there (to scare you away from rational decisions).

  • Ben

    Ubrayj02, being that your not queer, why the references? I assume because you are trying to make some satirical commentary that State Farm and the general non cycling public see cyclists as queers? Still it seems suspect. Really it comes off more as a projection of your own internalized homophobia.

  • Oh come on Ben, it’s OBVIOUS he was trying to make a satirical commentary on the State Farm commercial. Geez, people are so goddamn sensitive.

  • Disclaimer for the overly sensitive about the above comment:

    When I say “people are so goddamn sensitive” I’m referring to people in general.

  • Ben

    I know it’s obvious..duh…the problem is it’s not needed to convey his point of view…lets replace fag, queer and such with nigger, chink, wet back, dyke, etc…

    here I will give you a new way of seeing it.

    “When people are humiliated into riding their bikes, and totally niggering out, State Farm is there – to offer you a way out! Stop the niger-sanity! Buy their cheap policy so you can fill your gas tank for one week with the savings.

    You home bike niggers are over reacting.”

    So ask yourself, is using the word nigger needed to convey a satirical point of view?

    Especially if you aren’t black?

  • You’re asking the wrong person, because I think that’s totally acceptable. I’m a man who appreciates context. Anything goes in satire, because that’s the point. A Modest Proposal would not have been a very effective piece of satire had it censored itself because the thought of eating children might come off as offensive to some.

    But keep in mind, I’m a South Park Conservative and a student of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit.

  • Damien Newton

    Wow, last time I don’t pay attention to the comments section for a whole morning. I think everyone gets everyone’s point now, can we move on?

  • Ben

    I love satire, and I understand it well. I love South park too…but in the context of someone who wants to be taken seriously in the political front, I think it best to refrain from such low brow forms of communicating ones point.

    That’s fine for South Park, I am just very disappointed hearing it from someone on this blog…this isn’t South park, it’s about something much more adult than that.

    So lets move on.

  • Ben, I’m sorry about that.

    I share Fred’s point of view about the use of words like “fag”, “nigger”, and “chink” – but I definitely see your point. I laid on the slurs a bit heavily there, and it didn’t neccessarily help with the satire.

    I’ll check myself before I wreck myself next time.

  • Damn – all that argument and ubrayj comes in and just says “hey, I screwed up, I didn’t mean anything by it, it won’t happen again.”

    ubrayj is a 2nd order classy guy.

    0th order class – saying please and thank you and all that jazz
    1st order class – 0th order class plus observing others needs and being considerate of those . . . hold the door for people who need it, but when the little kid wants to hold the door for his mom and the stroller, let the 50lber hold it.
    2nd order class – 1st order class plus when you make mistakes in the application of 1st order class, addressing those mistakes openly, and adapting your future behavior to prevent similar mistakes

    What is 3rd order class?

  • Like Damien said, everyone gets everyone else’s point of view, no hard feelings, and let’s get back to talking about taking these streets back!


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