One way insurance companies avoid doing business with certain people, or people living in certain neighborhoods, is not to return their calls. Another way insurance companies discriminate is to charge some people more for their insurance. Sometimes the reason for this is not discrimination (for example, if one property carries a higher risk than another). But insurance companies make some assumptions that may not be true. They assume that some neighborhoods carry a higher risk than others. They may find all kinds of ways to keep from selling insurance in certain neighborhoods. For example, they may:
- Cancel the policy the 1st time you make a claim, or just not renew it.
- Refuse to give you replacement coverage.
- Charge so much that you won't buy their insurance.
- Refuse to give you a quote without inspecting the property.
- Refuse to insure certain kinds of houses that are only found in certain neighborhoods (for example, flat roofs).
- Refuse to insure houses worth less than certain amounts.
- Say your house is too old to insure, even if it is in good condition.
- Run a credit check before issuing a policy.
- Tell you they don't insure houses in YOUR neighborhood and refer you to another company.
Unfortunately, housing discrimination is sometimes found in the insurance business, especially if you live in certain neighborhoods. The biggest problems are cancellations, non-renewals, and differences in the cost and quality of coverage. Many agents and companies today are fair and don't discriminate. But if you have any doubts or questions about a policy you now own or want to buy, call the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) at 504-596-2100 or toll free at 877-445-2100. GNOFHAC will investigate the problem.
Insurance discrimination destroys neighborhoods. By reporting discrimination you can help create a healthy, livable neighborhood. By reporting discrimination you help stop a practice that is not only illegal, but that hurts all of us - as individuals, as a community, and as a nation.