Attorney General Jim Hood on Thursday countered criticism from State Farm and Mississippi’s insurance commissioner with letters from the insurance company about its efforts to re-evaluate Coast policyholders’ claims.

“I’m taking the high road, of course, because I’m now a private citizen and I don’t intend to get in a spraying match with the attorney general, but I will just say that Commissioner Chaney is well-informed about what happened,” former Insurance Commissioner George Dale said Thursday. “His comments were right on target.”

On Thursday, Hood sent the Sun Herald two letters from State Farm as proof of his office’s role in the re-evaluations. Hood did not respond to a request for an interview.

The letters assured Hood that State Farm was complying with a claims re-evaluation agreement reached with his office in January 2007. When federal court oversight for the agreement fell through, Dale ordered a re-evaluation, while Hood threatened to sue State Farm.

“The process the attorney general was instrumental in initiating has produced significant benefits to policyholders wishing to have their claims re-evaluated,” State Farm assured Hood, adding that a lawsuit from Hood would only impede the process.

A short time later, Hood sued.

Commissioner Mike Chaney said he is dealing with fallout from Hood’s news conference. Chaney said he is trying to keep insurance companies writing on the Coast and get them to offer discounts for homes built stronger or retrofitted.

“I’m not trying to pick a fight with him, but somebody somewhere has got to say, ‘You can’t keep trashing folks when it’s not true’,” Chaney said Thursday. “We step forward three steps and he puts us back five steps.”

Sun Herald