Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Our little-known run-in with the late Mr. Linkletter..

TV funnyman Art Linkletter has died at 97, which brings to mind our little-known regulatory run-in with the broadcast legend nearly 40 years ago.

In 1972, Linkletter was a pitchman for mail order health insurance. Even for the times, the policies were very limited, paying $15-$30 a day for a hospital visit, for example. And there were waiting periods.

Insurance commissioners in more than a dozen states, including ours, were unhappy with the use of celebrity endorsers for such coverage. Linkletter, for example, advertised coverage with National Home Assurance Co.

The state insurance commissioner at the time, Spokane attorney Karl Herrmann, ordered the ads halted in Washington, on the grounds that Linkletter wasn't an insurance agent. The company was allowed to resume the ads after changes, such as disclosing the fact that Linkletter was on the company's board of directors and spelling out the benefits by the day, rather than the month. The ads -- with Linkletter as spokesman -- resumed.

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