Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Insurance Company Sued Under Fair Housing Act On "FaithGuard" Policy

In Ohio, the National Fair Housing Alliance has filed a religious discrimination suit against GuideOne Mutual Insurance Co. alleging that its "FaithGuard" homeowners' insurance policies violate the federal Fair Housing Act. The complaint (full text) in National Fair Housing Alliance, Inc. v. GuideOne Mutual Insurance Co., (ND OH, filed 11.26/07), points to provisions in the policies that waive the insurance deductible if there is a loss to personal property while it held by the insured's church; a provision that pays church tithes or donations up to $750 if the insured suffers loss of income from certain accidental injuries; and the policy's doubling medical limits for an injury incurred at an activity hosted at the home of the insured on behalf of the insured's church. The complaint says that these benefits are not available to individuals who suffer losses while engaged in similar non-religious activities. The suit also alleges that GuideOne offers preferential treatment for Christians in its marketing and advertising. A fact sheet on the case is also available.

Yesterday's Akron Beacon Journal , reporting on the case, quotes GuideOne that says its product is ''available to everyone — whether they attend church or not and without regard to religion or denomination. No one has ever been denied the product based on church membership or attendance. There are no religion-related underwriting eligibility guidelines to obtain the product, and the company does not consider whether someone is a churchgoer before issuing a policy."