Farmers Insurance pays to settle complaint under Missouri no-call list law

Farmers Insurance agreed to pay a $575,000 settlement to Missouri in a case that accused the company of continuing to call people after they had requested an end to the calls in violation of law that permits no-call lists.

By Mark Davis mdavis@kcstar.com

Farmers Insurance agreed to pay $575,000 to Missouri to settle a lawsuit that charged it had violated the state’s law that allows consumers to be on a no-call list.

It agreed also to provide agent training and audits of agents, according to an announcement Monday by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

More than 275 complaints from consumers led Koster to take action against California-based Farmers Insurance Exchange, Truck Insurance Exchange and Fire Insurance Exchange. Koster said Farmers agents continued to call after being instructed by consumers not to call.

Farmers Insurance simply looked the other way while its agents were flouting Missouri’s no-call law, illegally bombarding Missouri consumers with unwanted telemarketing calls,” Koster said in the announcement. “This historic settlement combined with new training requirements should ensure Farmers reforms its practices to protect Missouri consumers.”

It is the largest amount paid by a telemarketer for violations, the state said.
Mark Davis: 816-234-4372, on Twitter @mdkcstar

Source: kansascity.com

Farmers Insurance Employee Discrimination

Farmers Insurance Exchange will pay a total of $225,000 to three former employees to settle a federal complaint of racial discrimination and retaliation.

By Tim Sheehan tsheehan@fresnobee.com

Farmers Insurance Exchange will pay $225,000 to three former employees to settle a federal complaint over racial discrimination and retaliation at its Fresno claims office.

U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Ishii approved the settlement on Wednesday and it was announced Thursday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It stems from a complaint filed by the EEOC in 2013 on behalf of two Hmong employees who were terminated in 2009, as well as a third employee who was allegedly fired for testifying to the EEOC in its investigation.

The EEOC charged that prior to 2009, supervisors had instructed employees at Farmers’ branch claims office in Fresno to code payments to customers as partial payments as a way of avoiding negative customer service surveys. But a 2009 audit led to interviews of claims representatives over the partial-payment coding. Two Hmong representatives, Chia Xiong and John Yang, were later terminated, the EEOC alleged, while non-Asian employees who had also coded some cases as partial payments were retained by the company.

The EEOC complaint alleged that Farmers terminated two of its Asian employees for coding cases as partial payments “while retaining similarly situated non-Asian employees who had also coded cases as partial payments.”

After Xiong filed a complaint with the EEOC, a third employee, Jason Lowry, was interviewed by the federal agency in 2012 as part of its investigation. Within two weeks, Farmers questioned Lowry about his testimony to the EEOC, and the next day he was placed on leave. Six weeks later, Lowry was fired “due to his participation in the EEOC’s investigation,” according to the complaint.

Melissa Barrios, the EEOC Fresno office director, applauded the affected employees for coming forward with their experience with the company, “because oftentimes Asian and Pacific Islander communities are reluctant to complain.”

Under the terms of the settlement, Farmers does not admit any liability or wrongdoing.

In addition to the financial terms covering lost wages as well as damages for emotional distress, the consent decree requires Farmers to assign a monitor to its Fresno claims office to ensure compliance with federal fair employment laws, train supervisors and human-resources officers about the law and train employees about their legal rights.

“We commend Farmers Insurance Exchange for agreeing to make changes that will ensure compliance with federal law,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles district, whose territory includes Fresno.

Tim Sheehan: 559-441-6319, @TimSheehanNews
Source: fresnobee.com

Farmers Insurance Claims Adjusters Reach $4.9 Million Settlement

September 26, 2016, 09:00:00PM. By Heidi Turner
San Francisco, CA Insurance adjusters for Farmers Insurance and their employer have reached a $4.9 million settlement in the California labor lawsuit filed against the insurance company. The California wage and hour lawsuit was filed by adjusters who alleged Farmers Insurance violated state and federal labor laws and owed workers for unpaid wages and overtime.

Farmers Insurance Sucks

Farmers Insurance Claims Adjusters Reach 4.9 Million Settlement According to reports, approximately 2,000 class members who worked as claims representatives in California from September 2011 to August 2016 will split the settlement. The lawsuit, which was initially filed in 2014, alleged company policies on the part of Farmers Insurance resulted in claims adjusters missing required breaks.

“…Plaintiffs sought certification of their claims for unpaid overtime and missed meal and rest breaks, unfair competition under the UCL, and statutory and civil penalties based on their belief that Farmers has class wide policies and practices that led to off-the-clock work and missed breaks,” court documents note.

Among the allegations are that Farmers Insurance practices—including competitive rankings among employees and work volume demands—resulted in claims adjusters working overtime and skipping breaks. Furthermore, plaintiffs alleged that prior to 2015 Farmers did not have a meal or rest break policy that ensured workers either did not miss a meal or rest break, or if they did miss the break, could report it properly.

Farmers Insurance denied any wrongdoing in the case and stated its policies and procedures complied with federal and state law. The company agreed, however, to settle the lawsuit. US District Judge William Orrick gave his approval to the settlement, noting that the settlement was fair.

The lawsuit is Alvarez et al v. Farmers Insurance Exchange et al., case number 3:14-cv-00574, in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Source: lawyersandsettlements.com

Farmers Insurance will pay a high price for discriminating against its female attorneys

Federal District Judge Lucy Koh had some very picky questions Thursday about terminology used in a multimillion-dollar settlement hammered out between Farmers Insurance and the hundreds of female attorneys it has underpaid for years.

I wasn’t expecting fireworks, exactly, but I thought things would be a little more lively for a case that could have a major effect on companies that, even unwittingly, pay men more than women for the same work.

Despite the technical questions coming from the bench, at least one person in the courtroom was absolutely riveted: Lynne Coates, a former Farmers attorney who discovered during a casual work conversation two years ago that a male colleague with less experience was earning more than she. Not too much later, she also found out her male litigation partner was being paid twice her salary — $185,000 versus $99,000. The man could hardly be considered more experienced than Coates; he earned his law license a year after she earned hers.

Coates, 50, complained to her manager, who responded by effectively demoting her, giving her work more suited to a paralegal than an experienced trial attorney.

It was embarrassing and humiliating,” she told me last year. “My job was taken away from me.”

She quit and filed a lawsuit, alleging Farmers had broken state and federal discrimination laws. Within months, nearly 300 female attorneys joined the class-action lawsuit. Nearly 200 of them are current Farmers attorneys.

Farmers has agreed to pay $4 million. As lead plaintiff, Coates will receive at least $85,000.

But more important, the company has also agreed to an impressive series of reforms, including increasing the number of women attorneys in its higher salary grades.

Also, for a period of three years, a company official will monitor compliance with the agreement, provide diversity training to attorneys and give progress reports to San Francisco attorney Lori Andrus, who represented Coates and the other plaintiffs, along with San Jose attorney Lori Costanzo.

“An excellent agreement,” Koh said.

“This is a substantial victory, and a good model going forward,” said UC Hastings law professor Joan Williams, an expert on workplace gender issues.

I wondered if three years was enough time to reverse decades of subtle workplace discrimination.

Andrus said she was pleased.  “We think it’s plenty of time for them to really, really clean up their act,” she said.

In the end, the case boiled down to a battle of statistics.

Farmers wanted to compare attorneys in small, individual branch offices, which Andrus and Costanzo resisted.  “If you look just at their San Jose office, which employs eight attorneys, it’s such a small number that comparing them makes it difficult to draw any conclusions,” she said. But when the salaries of Farmers attorneys all over the country were compared, Andrus said, “the wage gap quadrupled.”

Not surprisingly, greater disparity occurred at the higher salary grades. Perhaps the male attorneys in those grades had more experience than their female counterparts?  To control for that, Andrus and Costanzo looked at the dates each attorney passed the bar as a measure of experience.

“We found that women were much more likely to be in a lower salary grade,” Andrus said, “regardless of bar date.”

So although women and men were both hired into lower salary grades, women basically got stuck there.

“It’s not that women were being demoted,” Andrus said. “But a man would get groomed and promoted. Basically, there is male favoritism, which is probably unintentional. It’s a vestige of the good old boy network.”

Increasingly, employers are recognizing that pay gaps may be unintentional, but are unmistakably real.

Last year, the San Francisco-based tech giant Salesforce awarded $3 million in raises after discovering, through a voluntary salary analysis, that it had a gender wage gap. “We did find quite a few women who were being paid less than men and we’ve made that change,” Chief Executive Marc Benioff told CNN. “With just the push of one button, every CEO in the world can know exactly what is their pay discrepancy between men and women, and I hope that every CEO pushes that button.”

That would be nice.

“If we see more and more of these audits,” said California Democratic state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, “I think we are going to see major shifts.

Jackson co-authored a new state law, the California Fair Pay Act, that has been described as “one of the most aggressive” equal pay laws in the country. It was incorporated into the Farmers lawsuit on behalf of plaintiffs who still work at the company.

One reason the law has been hailed as a breakthrough is that it requires companies to pay employees equally for work that is substantially similar — not exactly the same. That is a critical twist.

“The pay scale for a janitor in a hotel is greater than a housekeeper,” Jackson said. “Why is that? The work is substantially similar, and yet most janitors are men, most housekeepers are women.”

The law also shifts the burden of proof. Bosses are now required to show that a wage differential is the result of a bona fide factor like education, training or experience, not sex.

In the court hallway after the hearing, Coates was beaming. “I feel good,” she said. “The changes that Farmers has agreed to implement are going to make such a difference for the women in the company, and that is what this is all about.”

Maybe so. This year, Andrus said, Farmers gave unscheduled raises of $10,000 to $13,000 to female attorneys who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

It’s a start. But barely.

robin.abcarian@latimes.com
Source: http://www.latimes.com/

Farmers Insurance would refund $84.4 million under Texas settlement

AUSTIN — A judge has tentatively approved a settlement between Farmers Insurance and the state that would resolve a long-running lawsuit alleging massive overcharges by the company in its homeowners policies more than a dozen years ago.

State District Judge Scott Jenkins of Travis County said Thursday that he would sign an order approving the settlement, which calls for refunds to Farmers customers of $84.4 million.

That comes on top of a 6.8 percent reduction in homeowners rates already implemented, for a total settlement of $127.5 million.

“I would like to get this done,” Jenkins said of the case, which has been in the courts since late 2002. That’s when Farmers and the Texas Department of Insurance first negotiated a settlement to state allegations against one of the largest property insurers.

Texas Insurance Commissioner David Mattax called the agreement “a significant step toward returning funds to deserving Farmers customers.” But consumer groups attacked the proposal as a giveaway to Farmers.

“This deal lets Farmers pocket millions of dollars in overcharges without paying interest on its wrongfully collected premiums,” said Alex Winslow of Texas Watch, which closely follows insurance issues. “The bottom line is that Farmers customers are left holding the bag.”

Winslow said the agreement “lets Farmers off the hook for millions in excessive premiums.” Testimony during two days of hearings that concluded Thursday indicated that while Farmers overcharged policyholders by 12 percent to 18 percent, the settlement required it to return only 6.8 percent.

Mattax said during the hearing that he was unable to secure a larger refund from Farmers during the negotiations.

Farmers does not admit wrongdoing under the settlement, and company officials indicated they wanted to resolve the case after several years in court.

As many as 1.8 million current and former Farmers policyholders could be affected by the settlement, but no refund checks or premium credits will be issued before a “final fairness” hearing in the class action case on Feb. 1. Three intervenors in the case are opposed to the settlement and indicated they will raise objections during that hearing.

Policyholders who are affected were given less comprehensive policies in the wake of the mold crisis that rocked the Texas home insurance market more than a decade ago. Premiums on those policies were not decreased to reflect the reduced coverage, according to the state.

Other affected customers were not given premium reductions for discounts they were entitled to. Still other policyholders paid excessive premiums for auto and home insurance because of inaccurate credit reports used by the company.

Credit reports are used by most insurers in determining premiums their customers pay.

The case was the first class action insurance lawsuit ever filed by the attorney general’s office. Farmers countersued, insisting it did nothing wrong.

However, late in 2002, Farmers conceded and agreed to a package of refunds, rate reductions and premium credits that was similar to what Judge Jenkins approved Thursday.

Follow Terrence Stutz on Twitter at @t_stutz.

Source: dallasnews.com

Farmers Insurance Employee Gets 180 days in jail

A Bayport woman who admitted to stealing $132,000 from her Stillwater employer has been sentenced to 180 days in jail, plus restitution and 20 years probation.

Carol Greethurst, 52, was sentenced by Judge Mary E. Hannon March 26. Insurance covered a portion of the loss, and Greethurst is required to pay $127,000 in restitution. If she successfully completes probation, the felony will be reduced to a misdemeanor on her record.

The sentence represents the maximum penalty Greethurst could receive under the plea agreement she reached with prosecutors last year. Fred Fink, criminal division chief of the Washington County Attorney’s Office, said the sentencing guidelines called for a probationary sentence based on the circumstances and Greethurst’s history.

On Nov. 17, 2014, Greethurst pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft by swindle of more than $35,000. According to the criminal complaint, Greethurst used her position as accountant at Farmers Insurance on Curve Crest Boulevard to embezzle funds between January 2010 and July 2013.

Kathy Schoenborn-Atkins of Farmers Insurance said she discovered the theft while Greethurst was on vacation around July 4, 2013. Schoenborn-Atkins said Greethurst had worked for the family-owned business more than 10 years. Upon discovery of the alleged thefts, Greethurst was dismissed from the company.

Schoenborn-Atkins said the sentence seemed “kind of a small price to pay” for the difficulty Greethurst caused.

“It was tough for me and my business,” Schoenborn-Atkins said. “I ended up at one point having to lay people off.”

With the theft halted, Schoenborn-Atkins said her business has recovered, and she is pleased the court case is over.

“I’m just relieved that it’s coming to a close so I can move past it,” she said.

According to the criminal complaint against Greethurst, Stillwater police hired a certified national examiner to investigate the claims. Through forensic analysis, the investigator concluded Greethurst had swindled the company by:

• Adding a total of $48,217.24 unauthorized payments to her checks.

• Using false reimbursements through payroll withholding in the amount of $34,316.52.

• Paying $40,601.94 in personal expenses from the company’s bank account.

• Obtaining $7,308.26 from a company line of credit.

• Using company funds to pay for $638.70 in personal auto insurance costs.

Greethurst’s attorney did not return a call for comment.

Source: http://stillwatergazette.com

Farmers Insurance gets worst rating for Renters Insurance

According to the JD Powers 2014 U.S. Household Insurance Study, Farmers Insurance got the WORST rating they could get for Renters Insurance in the following categories:
Overall Satisfaction
Policy Offerings
Price
Billing and Payment
Interaction

To top it off Farmers Insurance had the WORST Customer Satisfaction ranking of all the insurers.

2014-farmers-Insurance-rating

Source:http://ratings.jdpower.com and http://www.jdpower.com

 

Farmers Insurance gets worst rating for Homeowners Insurance Claims

According to the JD Powers 2014 U.S. Household Insurance Study, Farmers Insurance got the WORST rating they could get for Homeowners Insurance CLAIMS.

homeowners_insurance_claim

Source: http://ratings.jdpower.com

Farmers Insurance gets worst Auto Insurance ratings for 2014

In the JD Poj-d-power-logower 2014 U.S. Auto Insurance Ratings Farmers Insurance got the WORST rating it could get in the following categories:
-Overall Satisfaction
-Policy Offerings
-Price
-Billing and Payment
-Claims

auto collision

Source: http://ratings.jdpower.com

 

21st Century Insurance Gets Worst Rating from Temkin Group

According to the 2015 Temkin Experience Ratings, an annual customer experience ranking of companies based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers, 21st Century Insurance had the WORST ratings for the 5th year in a row!  Five years in a row?  Is it a coincidence that Farmers Insurance Group bought temkin-group-logo21st Century in 2009?  It didn’t take them long to run this business into the ground in regards to customer service and experience.  21st Century Insurance was also one of the three companies that declined by most percentage-points between 2014 and 2015!!

To generate these ratings, Temkin Group asked 10,000 U.S. consumers to evaluate their recent experiences with a company across three dimensions: success (can you do what you want to do?), effort (how easy is it to work with the company?), and emotion (how do you feel about the interactions?). Temkin Group then averaged these three scores to produce each company’s Temkin Experience Rating.

Source: http://www.prnewswire.com/

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