Farmers Insurance Get Worst Ratings

Farmers Insurance gets worst rating (1 star out of 5) by many ConsumerAffairs.com users!  Here are some of their comments:

“Our 2nd bad experience with Farmers. This time we were hit by a Farmers insured driver. Damage to our car and back injuries. The claims process has been a colossal joke. The claims agent is lazy, disrespectful and untrustworthy. They are trying to cheap their way out. It’s been five weeks with no resolution. However, they did offer us a rental car… which we don’t want or need! Helps me understand why insurance rates are through the roof because they try to take advantage of people which forces consulting with an attorney. Had they just settled fairly, it would have cost them $5,000. Now, we will demand much, much more. Farmers – yeah, they’ve seen a thing or two, but don’t know jack squat.”

Farmers Insurance Sucks

“We trusted our agent by telling him we bought a new Mercedes S550 and needed to add it to our coverage. 2 years later a rock crashed the windshield and the agent we trusted saved us a couple of dollars by making our comprehensive coverage deductible $1,250.00. WOW! Then on top of that they tell us if we don’t take it to an aftermarket repair shop they select they may not pay the complete cost after we pay our deductible. They take incompetence and greed to a whole new level. Too bad there is not a 0 Star rating.

I will never ever get an insurance through Farmers or recommend it to any one else for that matter. What a lousy business. I got in an car accident earlier this year, car was total loss and I sold it to a junk yard. I notified the agent but somehow she didn’t cancel my insurance and I was paying it for months. When I noticed it I contacted the agent and to get my money reimbursed. After months of asking me for all kind of evidence that I really don’t own the vehicle anymore (they saw the pictures and knew that the car was total loss) now they simply refuse to refund. I provided them the name of the junk yard AND more importantly hard evidence: the notice of transfer and reliability of the DMV (that states I don’t own the car any more and from which date). That’s not enough for Farmers. What a despicable way of doing business and customer service!”

“Recently totaled my 2003 Z71 Tahoe. The mileage on my vehicle with just 190K, it was in immaculate condition with no issues. Insurance came back and told me they were willing to give me $4500 for it. This is absolutely ludicrous as of this particular vehicle will cost about $9500. For what they are offering me, I cannot even replace my vehicle with the same exact vehicle in the same condition. Their offer will not even cover half of what they’re going for. They say they are going based off blue book value but would consider upping it if I can show them proof that these vehicles go for more in this area.
I have sent them countless examples of what they go for in this area but they will not consider them because they are either one your new were one year older. Apparently 2003 Z71 Tahoes are rare in this area. I guess it doesn’t matter that 2002 models just like it are going for well over what they are even offering me for mine and those are in bad condition. This is absolutely ridiculous. I pay to be covered and I get nothing in return.

“I had someone rear end my 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee over a year ago. Farmers paid for the repair with no problem. However, under Oregon law you are also entitled to receive compensation for “Diminished Value”. An accident will lower the resale value of your vehicle no matter how beautifully the repair was made. That’s diminished value (or DV) and you are entitled to compensation for that additional loss. I had two DV estimates done by reputable companies and they both estimated that loss at over $5,000. You pay these companies to do this estimate and you have no idea what they value your loss at until you pay them and see the report. They get paid the same either way so there is no incentive for them to lie or inflate the value of the loss. It’s an honest assessment. Farmers came back and said their expert valued the same loss at no more than $2,000. I refused the $2,000 and they came back with $2,250.
I complained that my vehicle suffered structural damage and that $2,250 is ridiculous. They came back with $2,500. This has been dragging on for over a year now and their offer is still less than half of the estimated loss. I chose Farmers because I believed they were a reputable company. This is not what I would have expected from them at all. Their adjuster even had the audacity to tell me my accident wasn’t showing on CarFax and suggested I not mention the accident during a sale. I’m required by law to tell the buyer about this accident, especially since it involved structural damage! In fact, if I sold it to a dealership, I’d be required to sign a document of disclosure. Are these the actions of a reputable company? Is this the kind of service you would want to experience? Be your own judge. What good is paying for insurance if they treat you like this when you need them? Do yourself a favor and steer clear off Farmers.

Farmers Insurance has been the worst experience of my life. I was sideswiped by one of their client who was ticketed for the accident. I was traveling eastbound in the curb lane at the posted speed limit. The Farmers client made an illegal left turn into the center lane of the same street as me and then abruptly made a lane change into my rear driver’s side door. The Farmer’s customer raced through an expired left turn arrow and lost control of his vehicle due to excessive speed. Farmers lied and said I turned right on red which is patently false. What happened was their client made an illegal left turn AFTER the left turn arrow expired and then about 5-6 car lengths down the road struck my vehicle. Suffice it to say, Farmers Insurance are liars, cheats and swindlers.
I would NEVER recommend Farmers Insurance to anyone. Lies lead to more lies. Small lies become big lies. If Farmers is so willing to tell lies then they will lie to their victims and ultimately their customers. Farmers Insurance company cannot be trusted and pray that you never have to deal with them. They are crooked and some of the most dishonest and untrustworthy people on earth. BUYER BEWARE!!”
Farmers Insurance Sucks

“I have had auto/home insurance with Farmers for 15 years. With few if any claims I have been responsible for. In all auto related issues concerning disputes my Farmers agent in Santa Rosa consistently took the side of the company. The customer service has gone downhill over the 15 years. Recently my agent informed me I would be paying a increased premium for my Subaru WRX 5door hatchback. He said it was in a “performance/sports car” category. When I requested Farmers policy documentation details indicating a list of “performance/sports car” data it was not provided. When I contacted the Farmers District Manager he also refused to provide the information. I have an outstanding driving record. Assigning an extra insurance premium on my Subaru has nothing to do with my record. Cars do not break the law! People do! The “performance/sports car” category has nothing to do with my driving record.
Farmers Auto Insurance created that category for the purpose of increasing profits for the company. I requested documentation that Farmers would have to provide to the California Department of Insurance in approval of the “performance/sports car” category. Farmers failed to respond or provide information. I now have a formal complaint filed with the Ca. Dept. of Insurance against Farmers for non-disclosure and being in violation of corporate law related to lack of transparency. I would suggest that people never do business with Farmers Auto Insurance company. The complaints against them are substantial.

“I’ve been working with Michael ** from Farmers Insurance for the last 2 weeks and HE’S THE ABSOLUTE WORST. 2 weeks ago one of their insured hit me when he ran a stop sign at an intersection, doing significant damage to my car. The front passenger side was completely bent in, leaving a big gap with an air bubble. I called them and asked them to send someone over to do an estimate and Michael told me they don’t usually do that unless the car isn’t driveable, that I’d have to go to a shop and have them do it. I tried to explain to him that the car ISN’T driveable, that I just don’t feel safe driving it in its current state but he just didn’t care and insisted I had to bring it to a shop to get an estimate.
I finally found a shop that could accommodate my schedule and location and they took a look at my car and told me I need to call Farmers and tell them to give me a rental, because this car isn’t driveable. Only then did Michael set me up with a rental. After I got my rental from Enterprise, they told me that Farmers refused to cover my damage waiver on the rental because my insurance already covers a lot of that. I called Michael and asked that Farmers cover my damage waiver and surprise surprise, he said they don’t usually do that. I pointed out that the accident was 100% their driver’s fault and he said OK, they’ll cover my damage waiver but first I have to get my insurance company to fax them a copy of my declaration.
I spent the next 2 days running around making sure all the appropriate documents were sent over (with Michael giving me the runaround repeatedly), and finally he called me and informed me that they won’t be covering my damage waiver because my own insurance company already covers a lot of that. I’m so appalled at the way Farmers has treated me. They’ve just made everything as difficult for me as possible, and Michael is all smiles and politeness on the surface but really has no sense of decency whatsoever. He’s not even professional by auto-insurance standards. (And that’s saying a lot!) If I incur any financial damages from this experience I fully plan to sue them.”

“Had a house fire. 2 days later I still have not heard from my insurance adjuster. I have called the claims # to start a claim, I was told the ins. adjuster would contact me asap… This never happened, so I call again and get the same runaround. Call a 3rd time and they give me more runaround and tell me I have to call the adjuster myself, so I did, no answer and no callback!!! I have no power in my home. I’m living wherever I can, even staying in my house with all the bad smoke fumes etc… I cannot believe that Farmers ins. has put this off like they have, for goodness sakes!!! It is my home. I have insurance and cannot get an adjuster to come here and do what is needed to get my home back in order!!! For shame on this company.

“Farmers ins keeps jacking up your rates. Had no claims. Save over 100$ per month on car ins by switching away for them. If you’re with Farmers I’d shop around now. If thinking about Farmers ins they will double your payments in a matter of year or two. I have been driving over 30 yrs. Never had a company take advantage of me so bad.

Reviews from: https://www.consumeraffairs.com/insurance/farmers_auto.html

 

Farmers Insurance Charges $54 to Cancel Insurance?

I have the worst experience ever with Farmers Insurance. I wanted to cancel my insurance because I sold my car. I purposely told my insurance agent the day before my next insurance cycle that I wanted to cancel. She told me that the system might not be able to recognize my cancellation by midnight and thus I might still be charged for the next month. But she will let the company know and get me a refund ASAP if that happens. Turns out, I got charged the next day. Then my agent sent me this unclear statement saying I owe the policy 54 dollars (I did not owe anything or been in any accident). I was confused so I called and she told me she will ask the company and get back to me because apparently she doesn’t know what is going on either. I waited for more than a week, didn’t get a penny back. And so I called again and she said it is from another department and she will have to get back to me next week. Luckily this time she got back to me early saying there’s a cancellation fee of 54 dollars being charged. so I will be getting a refund of my monthly payment that was accidentally charged after the cancellation 105 – the cancellation fee 54 dollars. First of all, I have never heard something like a cancellation fee when you want to cancel your car insurance. It is a competitive market and all the insurance company try to keep their customers satisfied to build up the reputation. But Farmers is almost like since “the system” has already charged you for an extra month, we might as well come up with something and let you suck it up. And ha there is the cancellation fee. Throughout the whole time, the charges and refund were so unclear. Even when I ask for a clear statement of how they came up with the number they charged me, they never provided that. And each time they tell me different excuses. I would never use/recommend Farmers Insurance to anyone. Avoid it as much as you can

Source: https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/farmers-insurance-review/

Farmers Insurance Hit With Class Action Lawsuit After LA Wildfire

By Brandon Lowrey

A Los Angeles homeowner hit a Farmers Insurance Co. unit with a proposed class action in California state court on Wednesday alleging the insurers illegally limited coverage of wildfire smoke damage by changing policies without adequate notice and saying it was “not actual fire damage.”
Plaintiff Ismael Frias, a resident of the Los Angeles suburb of Sylmar, said that Mid-Century Insurance Co. applied a $5,000 “Wildfire Smoke Sublimit” to his claim under his homeowner’s insurance policy. Mid-Century allegedly added the sublimit to the policy when Frias renewed in March, but didn’t clearly notify him. Frias also contends that the sublimit violates California a insurance law standardizing fire damage policies.

“The purported $5,000.00 Wildfire Smoke Sublimit violates Insurance Code section 2071, is not reflected on the declarations Page, is not plain, clear and conspicuous, and is unenforceable,” Frias argued.

Frias made a claim for damages he suffered during a wildfire on July 23. On that date, the massive Sand Canyon Fire was raging through the mountains north of Sylmar. The fire ultimately scorched nearly 65 square miles before it was contained in August, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group.

In September, Frias received a letter from Mid-Century saying the damage to his home wasn’t “actual fire damage” and thus was subject to the $5,000 sublimit, according to the complaint.

Frias alleges claims of breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and violation of California’s Unfair Competition Act.

Frias seeks to establish a class of California homeowners who had policies containing the wildfire smoke sublimit and who had submitted claims for wildfire odor, soot, smoke, char or ash damage. He also seeks compensatory and punitive damages, along with attorney’s fees, according to the complaint.

“As a result of defendants’ conduct, plaintiff and members of the class and subclass have been damaged, including but not limited to, paying insurance premiums for coverage rendered illusory by the unlawful Wildfire Smoke Sublimit,” the complaint said.

Representatives for Farmers did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Frias is represented by Joshua H. Haffner and Levi M. Plesset of Haffner Law PC.

Counsel information for the defendants was not immediately available.

The case is Ismael Frias et al. v. Farmers Group Inc. et al., case number BC638626, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

—Editing by Joe Phalon.

Source: law360.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 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 Reviews 2015

Farmers Insurance rated worst, as usual.  -Admin

“We have had Farmers car insurance and roadside assistant. My husband’s was travelling from LA to bay area and car broke and brakes failed on I5 north near grapevine while coming down on the mountain. Even the emergency brakes did not work. I called Farmers insurance and told about the situation. They kept asking questions for 1 hour and very slow in response. For example on telling what exit I am, the person was not able to locate the exit while I found online and told where the exist is exactly.
Car is out of control and she is asking where we want to take the car…. On telling nearest car repair shop, she took 10 minutes to find the nearest shop and again did not find the info that the shop is opened or closed since it was Sunday evening. I told, “Why don’t you send the roadside assistance” and meanwhile we decide where to take the car. She did not agree and asked me harassing questions for more than an hour. Finally my husband hit the car against the curb/divider again and again and stopped it.
The roadside assistance came after 3 hours. It was just very horrible, very frustrating. They do not understand the situation… They understand only money taking and maybe wait till the car does meet an accident so they can put fault on drivers. Very horrible. We were so scared, afraid and frustrated that day.. Cannot tell. Never go with Farmers.” Jan 2015

“I had my car under a canopy carport and a very bad windstorm came through the the carport, damaged my vehicle. I went to a Farmers Insurance Reviews 2015reputable auto body repair shop and received an estimate for $3,600. The Farmers adjuster came to my house and said that the damage wasn’t that severe and left me with a check for $1,400. I thought I had a $500 deductible, not $2,200. I’m very upset about this and I’m considering getting a lawyer. This guy doesn’t own or operate an auto body repair shop, but he thinks he’s qualified to disagree with the professionals.” Jan 2015

“Agent was sent email on new vehicle didn’t issue auto insurance until 3 weeks later but no backdated to the date of email. I forwarded the email from my sent box.. He said “I won’t accept it”??????? So how do I prove he accepted a later email on another car. How can I trust the “Insurance Agent” misplace emails or phone calls? Your “Vision Statement” seems to be just words. The Credit Union charged me for insurance which I had already and paid in full months earlier. It cost me $1710.00 plus interest. Besides agent has started insulting me because I changed insurance companies due to him not honoring the email sent to him but has accepted others prior and afterwards. Maybe this will get someone to help.” Jan 2015

“I was in a car accident while sitting at a red light. A guy hit me full speed and pushed me up under the car in front of me. I was hurt very badly in the accident and Farmers took me through a year’s worth of fighting sending me to their Dr where I had to get undressed. Then I had to go and sit for an hour while their attorney interrogated me for their client’s negligence. At the end of the day all I got was my hospital bills paid and 1000.00. I live in Oklahoma.” Jan 2015

“My daughter was hit by an impaired driver. Several physical therapy visits followed. The police report clearly identified the other driver as the at fault driver. Farmers immediately paid for the car loss at about 60% of the blue book value. They refused to pay the very low medical costs. We hired an attorney too late… our fault. Even our attorney lamented that Farmers is the worst insurance company in America. I had policies with them for more than six vehicles and they always refused claims unless I complained to my local rep. This company is pathetic and does not deserve to operate. AVOID THIS COMPANY AT ALL COSTS!”

“I had a 21st insurance policy for years, but they told me that they couldn’t cover my trucks now that they were work vehicles with my personal vehicle and I had to use Farmers to get coverage. Farmers insisted that I had to have separate policies and my insurance cost per year almost doubled (covering the same vehicles). I asked my GL insurer if they could give me a quote and not only could they include both personal and work vehicles on one policy it was about 3/4 of the cost. Naturally I switched over. With 21st if I was late in payment (contracting is not a steady check), they would terminate coverage, but farmers also sent a bill for additional cost and when I went to pay them 27 days after due date they already sent it to collections. Farmers as an insurer has been my worse experience with an insurance company I have dealt with in my 30 years of driving.”

“It’s very simple. At Farmers Insurance they will sweet talk you to hell. One of the worst I ever seen, for small fender bender, I mean Small. They will act like they are CIA agents. Every time you call them this is what you get: “WE ARE STILL INVESTIGATING THE ACCIDENT” (for almost 30 days). THEN IF THEY FIND THEM SELF CORNERED, SIMPLY THEY WILL CALL YOU RACIST. If you ask them “how long this investigation of yours will take”, this was what I got back as answer from Adjuster: “you are asking me to predict the future. Are you crazy, it takes what it takes.”

“I had a head-on collision and sustained permanent nerve damage to my neck. My UM policy limit was $100K and they offered $3k for pain and suffering. I had to sue my own insurance company to get a settlement. My agent took money from me for 22 years and when I really needed them, they said “sorry we can’t help you.” Do not think that low premiums will save you money in the long run. Look at the payout stats online for different companies before you buy. I have AMICA now and they have a good payout rating. That’s what insurance is for–to make it right when you need it. When you have a bad accident, it’s too late to expect all those promises they feed you at Farmers to be true. They aren’t! NEVER use Farmers.”

 

Source: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/

Age discrimination: Farmers Insurance company hit with $749,000 verdict

by Michael Futterman and Jaime Touchstone

A claims adjuster filed suit against Farmers Insurance when she was terminated after returning from a medical leave. A Fresno jury found that Farmers discriminated against the employee based on her age and failed to reasonably accommodate her disability. The jury awarded the employee $749,000, and she may be able to recover her attorneys’ fees as well.

Claims adjuster sues over termination

Farmers Insurance hired Sharron Warehime to work as a claims adjuster in its Visalia office. Warehime, who was 57, had more than 15 years of experience in the insurance industry. Initially, she received good to outstanding job performance ratings and was awarded various professional honors and accolades by Farmers.

Things at Farmers began to sour for Warehime after she was transferred to the company’s Fresno office. Following the transfer, she asked to handle her own caseload rather than working on cases assigned to other adjusters. Her supervisor obliged, allegedly assigning her the largest caseload in the office, including a previously fired coworker’s problematic files.

Overburdened, Warehime eventually requested help and a reduction in her caseload. In response, her supervisor acknowledged that she was responsible for a larger than usual number of files but didn’t reassign any of her work.
On top of the heavier workload, the Fresno office was staffed with younger employees who allegedly began directing ageist comments at Warehime, including “I don’t want to work when I’m your age” and “The old fuddy-duddy is coming in.”

Warehime complained. Her supervisor allegedly responded by conducting “case reviews” on her files, which culminated in Warehime receiving several “warnings” and being placed on probation. When she responded that the negative evaluation of her work was inaccurate and unfair, she was instructed to improve her performance.

The stress at work became so intense that Warehime allegedly suffered a mental breakdown and took a doctor-recommended leave of absence to undergo treatment for depression and anxiety. At the conclusion of her medical leave, her doctor cleared her to return to work, allegedly with a request that Farmers allow her to initially work a part-time schedule. The company didn’t respond to that request, and when she showed up for her first day back, a young man was sitting at her desk. Farmers had allegedly terminated her without notice.

Warehime sued Farmers for violations of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), including claims for age discrimination, retaliation, failure to provide reasonable accommodation, and failure to engage in a timely good-faith interactive process. After a five-week trial, the jury found that Warehime had been a victim of age discrimination and retaliation and that Farmers failed to accommodate her disability. The jury awarded her $749,000, which included damages for lost wages and benefits.

Warehime also filed a motion to recover her attorneys’ fees. That motion and Farmers’ posttrial motions for a new trial and judgment notwithstanding the verdict are set for hearing in January 2014.

Jury believed employee

The FEHA affords job protection to individuals who are 40 or older and prohibits the harassment of any employee or applicant based on age. Businesses that regularly employ five or more workers on a full- or part- time basis must comply with the FEHA’s antidiscrimination provisions and evaluate job applicants and employees on the basis of their abilities, not their age.

Employers with one or more employees may be held responsible for any acts of harassment committed by their agents and supervisors and are required to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent harassment on the basis of age. When a job applicant or employee is denied an employment benefit or is the victim of unlawful harassment based on age, the employer may be liable for age discrimination.

However, the FEHA does not insulate older workers from disciplinary action or performance standards administered equally to employees of all ages. Employers may terminate, discharge, demote, or otherwise discipline an employee who is 40 or older if she either fails to perform the normal functions of her job or conform to its legitimate business requirements.

In her lawsuit, Warehime contended that she was treated differently than other employees because of her age, and when she complained to her supervisor, she experienced retaliation through progressive discipline designed to lead to her termination. In response, Farmers argued that she was terminated because she didn’t embrace technology at work, rejected training to become a better employee, and blamed others for her problems when her workload backed up. Farmers also claimed she “low-balled” customers on their claims, leading to increased lawsuits against the company.

Ultimately, the jury believed Warehime when she asserted that she was a “committed team player and good with customer service” who participated in any required training and received positive performance ratings for the first three years of her employment.

Farmers failed to accommodate disability

The FEHA requires covered employers to accommodate an employee or applicant with a known physical or mental disability as long as the accommodation does not cause an undue hardship. In response to a request for an accommodation, covered employers must engage in a timely good- faith interactive process with the individual to determine if any effective reasonable accommodations are available.

Warehime allegedly suffered from work-related anxiety and depression, making her a qualified individual with a disability under the FEHA. She requested that upon her return from medical leave, Farmers allow her to work a part-time schedule as an accommodation for her mental health condition. Rather than granting her request, Farmers terminated her immediately upon her return from medical leave.

Warehime accused Farmers of failing to provide reasonable accommodation for her disability and failing to engage in a timely interactive process. The jury agreed, which likely contributed to the six-figure award. Sharron Warehime v. Farmers Insurance (Fresno County Superior Court, Case No. 08CECG02976).

Bottom line

Complaints of discrimination based on age and disability require a thoughtful response from employers. Firing an employee on the same day she returns from leave is rarely a good idea. The large jury verdict in this case suggests that Farmers acted in an overly aggressive manner without adequate appreciation for the legal and economic risks at stake.

Source: http://hr.blr.com/

 

Farmers Insurance Agents Sue Carrier Over Contracts, Taking Client Info

A group of Farmers Group Inc. agents have filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging the Los Angeles, Calif.-based carrier has undercut them by sharing their data with a competing subsidiary and several contract violations.

The United Farmers Agents Association alleges in its suit that the U.S. subsidiary of Zurich Financial Services in 2009 “began orchestrating and engaging in a series of improper actions” at the expense of Farmers agents.

Those alleged actions include Farmers unilaterally changing the terms of the contracts with its agents, the company using client data gathered by Farmers agents to undercut them and terminating agents through a purposely rigorous new set of standards to take away their books of business and give them to agents making lower commissions.

“Under this  scheme,  Farmers  utilizes  information  and  data  about  the Agents’ policyholders – information and data acquired by the Agents through Agents’ efforts – to directly solicit those Agents’ existing policyholders with less expensive insurance policies sold through a subsidiary of the exchanges,” the suit states.

The fallout between Farmers and its agents seems to have started in 2009 with Farmers purchase of direct writer 21st Century Insurance Group. Following that buyout, Farmers unveiled a series of performance programs subjecting agents to new standards, including production minimums, quoting requirements and office hours, according to the suit.

In 2009 Farmers introduced a modified version of the contract that pertains to agents who entered the contract after that date. That same year Farmers acquired 21st Century, a direct writer of primarily automobile and homeowners’ insurance.

Farmers completed the acquisition of 100 percent of AIG’s U.S. Personal Auto Group, which included 21st Century Insurance, in July 2009. In addition to 21st Century Insurance, the acquisition included the former AIG Direct business and Agency Auto business. The purchase price amounted to approximately $1.9 billion.

Unlike the agent-based model, 21st Century does not rely on agents to sell its insurance products, instead it markets and writes policies directly to consumers.

“By employing a direct writer approach, 21st Century can offer insurance at low  rates  which  undercut  the  rates  being  charged  to  the  Agents’  own customers  and policyholders,” the suit states.

Following the purchase of Century 21, Farmers began using applicant and policyholder data from agents under contract with Farmers and disseminating it to 21st Century and other Farmers-held companies that were competitors of its own agents, according to the suit.

“In both cases, Farmers, through 21st Century or another competitor, would then typically offer insurance policies to the Agents’ policyholders and prospective policyholders  at lower prices than those which Agents could offer,” the suit states.

“These new programs were unlike any past programs, in that they impose explicit  production  minimums  upon  Agents  without  their  consent;  irrespective  of  an Agent’s past performance; and without regard for whether an Agent even markets and sells the particular  type(s) of insurance required  to be marketed  and sold under  the various programs,” the suit states.

UFAA President Tom Schrader declined to discuss the suit in detail, citing his fears that bad publicity would impact Farmers’ clients and agents negatively.

“This is a fundamental disagreement between the company and the agents and we prefer to handle it in-house without airing our dirty laundry,” Schrader said.

Farmers spokesman Mark Toohey offered the following statement:

“Farmers Insurance strongly disagrees with the issues raised in this lawsuit. During our nearly 85-years of doing business in the United States, Farmers Insurance has taken great pride in the strong relationship we have developed with our agents and we look forward to the future.”

The suit continues: “Farmers has used and continues to use these programs as a basis for taking disciplinary and other action against Agents, including termination, in violation of the contracts, which do not contain any provision requiring Agents to meet performance standards of any kind.”

According to the suit, Farmers has also taken action against agents on the basis of the location and type of offices being maintained by agents.

UFAA is a not-for-profit professional trade association, and is a member of the Coalition of Exclusive Agents Associations Inc., a national organization of exclusive agent associations whose companies insure over 60 million families. UFAA describes itself as a voluntary membership  organization  with the purpose of improving working conditions for Farmers insurance agents.

Each member of UFAA represented in the suit has a contract with Farmers. Under the contract agents serve as independent contractors of Farmers and must extend the right of first refusal to Farmers to bind insurance coverage on behalf of applicants procured by the agents.

Aside from sharing agents’ clientele information and contract violations, the suit alleges that Farmers has been terminating some agents for failing to meet the new guidelines and taking their books of business, which under contract is owned by Farmers, and using those books of business to provide seed accounts to newly signed agents earning a smaller commission.

The suit further alleges that the new performance standards imposed upon agents by Farmers are designed to be difficult to meet and they are being used as a pretext for terminating agents.

Aside from setting daily minimums for agents to contact, quote and present insurance products, the new program often also requires agents to market or sell products they have never sold before, according to the suit.

The suit seeks declaratory relief and seeks a jury trial. No trial date has been set. Neither Farmers parent Zurich nor 21st Century are named as parties in the suit.

Click here to read a copy of the lawsuit online.

Source : http://www.insurancejournal.com

Judge Orders Farmers Insurance to Pay Oklahoma Plaintiffs $15M

An Oklahoma judge has ordered Farmers Insurance and a subsidiary to pay a total of $15 million to three plaintiffs who filed claims for damage to their homes caused by a deadly tornado that struck Woodward in 2012.

The plaintiffs alleged that Farmers Insurance and Foremost Insurance Group underpaid claims and used adjusters that they knew would offer low estimates, and District Judge Ray Dean Linder agreed.

“I was shocked at the disservice that was rendered by the defendants in each of the three cases,” Linder said in his verdict issued last week.

The judge ordered the insurance companies to pay $2 million for bad faith and breach of duty and $3 million in punitive damages to each of the three plaintiffs.

Farmers Insurance is still reviewing the judge’s decision and evaluating its next step, said company spokesman Luis Sahagun.

The EF-3 tornado hit Woodward in April 2012, killing six people and injuring 29.

Attorney Jeff Marr filed the lawsuits on behalf of homeowners Sterling Parks, Jeff and Mary Sharpe and Kim and Linda Louthan. He has also filed lawsuits against insurance companies over the May 2013 tornadoes that hit Moore and other Oklahoma towns.

“For every one or two or three – in this case – who stand up and say they won’t take it, there are a thousand who take it, because in many cases the people don’t have a choice,” Marr said. “They are often left in a situation where their house is unlivable and they can’t afford to foot the bill to stay somewhere else or fix the home themselves.”

According to the lawsuit, the insurance company’s adjuster determined that Parks’ home was not structurally damaged and could be repaired. The lawsuit said an engineer hired by Parks said the home should be torn down, not fixed.

“My life has been on hold basically for two years,” Parks said. “It’s nice knowing I will eventually get something.”

Farmers Group Inc. is based in Los Angeles.

Source: http://www.insurancejournal.com/

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