Three independent insurance agencies in Maryland that have contracts with Erie Insurance have filed complaints with the Maryland Insurance Administration, alleging that Erie had discriminatory practices against low-income and minority communities in the Baltimore area.
The complaints were filed by Baltimore, the Maryland-based Baltimore Insurance Network, Windsor Mills, the Maryland-based Ross Insurance Agency, and the Baltimore, Maryland-based Welsch Insurance Group.
The three agencies allege that Erie has systematically discriminated against customers and potential customers by refusing to purchase insurance policies based on the customer's race, ethnicity, geographic location and / or socioeconomic status.
In their complaints, the agencies say they were limited in offering insurance policies underwritten by Erie to residents of mostly black communities. They say Erie has threatened and taken actions against them for challenging what the agencies at Erie call discriminatory realignment policies. The agencies claim that these retaliatory actions have affected and continue to affect their business.
In particular, Baltimore Insurance Network states in its complaint that Kristopher Marrion, vice president and Silver Spring, Maryland, branch manager at Erie, began taking increasingly aggressive measures against the agency in retaliation for issues it raised about Erie & # 39; s discriminatory practices. Baltimore Insurance Network claims it was hassled to write less business, even though the company generated by Erie's online lead program included qualified individuals according to Erie's published policies. The agency also alleges that Marrion retaliated by closing the Baltimore Insurance Network office in Bowie, Maryland without explanation or notice.
Welsch Insurance Group also says in its complaint that Erie ended its 12-year agency relationship with Welsch in August 2019, citing poor underwriting practices, unacceptable policyholder service and broken trust.
Matthew Cummings, public relations and social media manager at Erie Insurance, told Insurance Journal that Erie will duly respond to the Maryland Insurance Administration to address the complaints directly, adding that Erie's underwriting standards meet the laws and regulations of the state insurance.
"The allegations and allegations made in it are unfounded, and we will vigorously defend our business practices," he said.
Cummings said Erie is committed to the fair and equitable treatment of all prospective and existing customers.
“Erie Insurance is built on the core values of dignity and respect, and these values have been at the heart of our success for over 95 years,” he said. "We strive to create an environment where customers, agents and employees reflect the diversity of the communities where we all live and work."
In their complaints, the three authorities state that this is not the first time that Erie has been accused of racial discrimination. The agencies pointed to a 2009 federal lawsuit in which Erie agreed to pay a $ 225,000 settlement to the Fair Housing Council of Central New York after it filed a lawsuit alleging Erie discriminated against black individuals in Syracuse, New York.
The three agencies are asking the Maryland Insurance Administration to take action, including providing administrative relief, banning Erie from using discriminatory redlining practices, imposing a financial penalty that includes attorneys' fees, costs and expenses, and awarding damages. to the agencies.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Erie agreed to a $ 225,000 settlement with the Fair Housing Council of Central New York in 2009, not 2019 as previously written.
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