Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Insurance Company Racism In The US

A major discrimination scandal is breaking in America over the two-tier pricing policy of insurance companies. So far, US$204 million is to be returned to policy holders. John Howard reports.

For decades, householders answered the door weekly to an insurance man and give him a dollar or less to keep their burial policy up to date.

Most didn't know that if they were black they were giving him more than the whites across town.

It was a practice of discrimination outlawed since the 1960's, but which had endured until April this year.

Giant US insurance company American General, which has insisted that most of its policies had been issued by companies that it had recently acquired, has agreed to distribute US$204 million its policy holders - most of whom are likely to be black and poor.

The company, which was facing a class-action lawsuit, also agreed to contribute to the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People.

The rationale behind the practice - charging blacks and whites different prices - was that it was calculated by the insurance companies that African-Americans were likely to live shorter lives than whites.

It had continued until now because so many of the policies that remained in circulation dated back decades.

The Reverend Jessie Jackson said he was disgusted with the past practice but pleased with the settlement, "My grandmother had these kinds of policies when I was growing up."

"The insurance man and the rent man would come by every week and when you could only pay one, you paid the insurance man because all the old folks wanted a dignified burial," Reverend Jackson said.

Some people had been paying 90 cents a week for so long that their total outlay had come to almost twice the amount needed to cover the cost of a funeral.

Many did it to make sure their children would not have to carry the burden of burial costs or because they felt their children wouldn't have the money anyway.

"It is tragic this discrimination and exploitation occured in the first place," said Bill Nelson, the insurance commissioner for the state of Florida.

"But it's incomprehensible this practice was allowed to continue up until just a few days ago," he said.

The pricing practices of international insurance companies operating in New Zealand perhaps needs looking at since it is also believed Maori die earlier than other New Zealanders.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Brexit Vote Aftermath

So, what happens next? Normally when a major policy like this gets so crushingly rejected – by 230 votes, when Theresa May had reportedly been hoping for a defeat by “only” 70- 100 votes – the PM would resign and/or a fresh election called. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Our History Of Selling Out The Kurds

For the past 100 years, the West has sold out the Kurds over and over again. So much so that it came as a surprise yesterday when US National Security advisor John Bolton appeared to walk back the latest act of betrayal... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Reactionary Politics Of Fear

What do you call a situation where the state tries to create panic among its own people for party political gain? As practiced by Theresa May and her faction of the Conservative Party, this has become a well-honed form of state terrorism… More>>

Viva Scoop 3.0! Rounding Up 2018 And Looking Ahead

2018 has been quite a year for Scoop. We are so thrilled to have successfully met the funding target for the first stage of the ‘Scoop 3.0’ plan raising $36,000. This means we can now proceed with the planning phase for the delivery of this bold vision for a community-owned, participatory, independent newsroom... More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog