Liberty National Life faces allegations of discrimination

By Palm Beach

TALLAHASSEE — A Birmingham, Ala., life insurer could be suspended or lose its license to do business in Florida because of allegations of discrimination.

Liberty National Life Insurance Co. has 21 days to to demonstrate to the Florida Department of Insurance that it should be allowed to continue to do business in the state under an order issued Thursday by state Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.

The Office of Insurance Regulation conducted a five-month investigation at Liberty National’s Birmingham, office, where investigators reviewed more than 7,000 life insurance application files and found a total of 1,149 violations, of which 1,053 were for discriminatory practices.

“Discrimination of any kind by an insurance company will not be tolerated by this office,” Deputy Commissioner Mary Beth Senkewicz said. “We will do everything within our power to ensure that Florida consumers are protected from such unconscionable practices.”

The allegations against Liberty National center on refusal to issue life insurance policies based on national origin; discrimination in underwriting practices based on national origin; discrimination based on potential lawful travel; and discrimination based on citizenship. A significant number of consumers affected were Haitian.

The office’s investigation reviewed, among other things, Liberty National’s underwriting practices, agent-training materials, forms and its new-business issue process. The investigation also revealed instances of improper notice and failure to maintain adequate records.

Liberty National has about 182,000 policies in Florida.

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JUNE 4, 2009 click to go home
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