January 28 2008
A class action lawsuit has been filed against the life insurance company for allegedly discriminating against Haitians by offering low quality policies and canceling without reason. The lawsuit was filed in Miami Federal Court on behalf of Haitian policy holders and claims Liberty National Life Insurance denied policies based solely on the applicant's race and Haitian ancestry, ethnicity and national origin, or replaced them with policies normally only sold to the terminally ill. The class action claims Liberty National asked leading questions to Haitian-Americans regarding their foreign travel plans and had underwriters listen for a "Haitian" accent.
According to the US Census, more than a third of the country's Haitian population lives in Florida. Liberty National trained Haitian-American sales agents to sell life insurance policies door-to-door in Haitian communities. The lawsuit alleges that starting in 2004, Liberty National denied and rejected standard life insurance policy applications filed by those sales agents, even though the applicants met the company's requirements.
According to Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation, insurance companies are allowed to ask about an applicant's race, nationality or ethnicity, but cannot use the information as criteria to write policies or determine who gets a policy.
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