Insurance company faces discrimination complaint

Posted on 10 May 2007 at 4:49pm
By Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. A discrimination complaint has been filed against a life insurance company that refused to sell a policy to a man with HIV, a member of the state panel that brought the case.

The Human Rights Commission filed the complaint this week against Farmers New World Life Insurance Co. of Mercer Island, the principal life insurance subsidiary of Farmers Group Inc. of Los Angeles, citing the denial of a mortgage life insurance policy for Gerald Herbert of Poulsbo. That type of insurance pays off a home mortgage if the homeowner dies.

With the development of more effective medications against the virus that causes AIDS, life expectancies for people who are HIV-positive have increased, but Farmers the 12th largest life insurance provider in the state apparently routinely denies life insurance coverage to people with HIV, said Marc Brenman, the commission’s executive director.

State law bars the cancellation or refusal to issue or to renew life insurance on the basis of disability, and HIV infection is considered a disability under well-established court rulings, he added.

Farmers Group, owned by Zurich Financial Services AG of Switzerland, has done nothing wrong and applies underwriting guidelines fairly, consistently and in line with industry standards, spokesman Jerry Davies said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, April 27, 2007.

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