Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pay or Don't Pay - An Easy Question for Western World Insurance

Western World Insurance Group
is being profiled here due to their activities in charging firms premiums and failing to make appropirate and timely payments for claims.  Various articles and cases will be provided on this, and other similar sites so as to inform the public about this firm.

The information is provided in order for the reader to determine if this is just another slimy insurance firm who is ripping off their customers.  Take a look and see what you think - would you want them to be carrying your policy?  If not then probably you would want to place your insurance with a firm that will actually pay off on claims and not stonewall you.

Their sites are:

Photo:  Thomas F. Mulligan
President & Chief Executive Officer
With Western World since 1981

Have you gotten your postcard yet? 
       It may be coming soon.
How does Western World treat small businesses?

This example of Western Worlds attitude towards paying out claims involves a case of serious vandalism of an adult bookstore in Turnersville, NJ.  The owner had Western World Insurance, the criminal damage took place on 12-29-2010 and the claim has still not been settled.
The Washington Township Police have not found any evidence as yet as to who caused the extensive damage to the building.

The Gemini Adult Bookstore was eventually repaired at the owners personal expense, from his own funds and reopened after being closed for approx. six months.

This seems to be typical of the lack of interest shown by this insurance company in getting clients claims settled.  Further inquiry is being made so as to feature this claim and its lack of payment on this site. 

Other inquiries on various unsettled claims are also going forward.  Additional information is on hand and will shortly be incorporated into this site. 

Summary of Docket No. GLO-L-8851-11 Superior Court of New Jersey Law Division:  Gloucester County:

In April 2010 Western World, through Jimcor Agencies, its ‘local producer’ issued a $325K in coverage to a NJ Adult Bookstore.  On 12/28/10 a vandalism of the premises occurred and a claim of $114K was filed and a separate claim for $132K for present and future loss of business income was also filed.

Western World refused to pay either.  The bookstore filed suit saying that “The refusal to pay coverage . . . has  been wrongful without reasonable basis to deny, in bad faith, and designed to deny the benefit of insurance coverage by defendant”

The book store said that it “has been injured and damaged by being delayed in the reopening of its business operations and is thus entitled to compensatory damages, punitive damages, damages pursuant to the Supreme Court determination in Pickett, plus interest, attorneys fees and costs of suit.”

For additional details click on link:

Western World Insurance Group spends a lot of
money on lawyers and a lot of time in Court:

Western World Insurance Group, aka Tudor and Stratford Insurance enjoy taking in payments but DO NOT like to pay out anything.  They also were subject to a class action suit in NY for violation of the FCRA (details below).

From 1983 to 2011, Western World and its 2 clones, Tudor and Stratford Insurance companies, have been in 81 Federal Courts, from Arkansas to West Virginia, 392 times; 340 of these were civil cases, 16 bankruptcies and 36 appeals. 

Most were insurance cases (ie: Nature Of Suit = #110), but also for torts (NOS #240), motor vehicle (#350), personal injury, product liability (#365), personal property (#380) and civil rights (#440).

It took a 'class action' suit to get Western
World Insurance Group to pay!

Western World Insurance Group Discriminated Against the Handicapped!

From National Fair Housing Advocate, pages 8 and 9, Volume E3 Number 4 of April 2007

Summary of the below case:  The Western World Insurance Group is based in Franklin Lakes, N.J. and writes insurance under the Western World, Stratford, Westco, and Tudor nameplates.  In 2005, the company reported $28 million in profits with $311 million in revenue. The company has $1.3 billion in assets.

In May 2004, both the Fair Housing Council of Washington, the Fair Housing Council of Oregon, and several group care home operators, filed a federal class action lawsuit seeking an end to Western World’s policies of discrimination against persons with mental disabilities and asked for unspecified damages.

In November 2002 one group home operator had received a notice stating that her insurance would be canceled, because she had a “mental illness designation” on the license of her group home. The home had only two residents with mental disabilities in that home.  In an unsuccessful motion to dismiss the suit Western World did not deny its discriminatory policies against persons with mental disabilities.

As part of the settlement, the plaintiffs and Western World agreed to establish a settlement fund for the benefit of all other adult family home operators in Washington and Oregon who received a notice of cancellation or non-renewal of insurance coverage between Jan. 1, 2002, and May 7, 2004 that made reference to mental illness or a mental illness designation associated with the insured’s adult residential care facility license.

Western World Insurance Company pays $2 million to settle group care homes’ discrimination claims

Western World Insurance Company
has agreed to settle a federal Fair Housing Act lawsuit for $2 million.  The suit, a joint effort between the Fair Housing Council of Washington and the Fair Housing Council of Oregon, alleged that Western World systematically canceled the insurance policies of businesses that provided housing services to persons with mental disabilities.

In 2002, the Fair Housing Center of Washington (FHCW) (formerly the Fair Housing Center of South Puget Sound) received a phone call from the Clark County, Wash. Ombudsman for long term care. He told  HCW staff that he had been receiving calls from group care homes that served people with mental disabilities  ho said that Western World was canceling their policies, and would no longer insure homes for persons with mental disabilities.

Soon after, FHCW began receiving phone calls from other group care home operators, who said that their insurance policies had been canceled, because Western World would not insure homes for people with  mental disabilities.

FHCW launched an intense investigation into Western World’s policies. Through research with the Washington Department of Health and Social Services, FHCW found that Western World canceled more than 150 policies for group care homes between 2000 and 2002. FHCW filed fair housing complaints against Western World with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in November 2002.

In 2003, the Fair Housing Council of Oregon (FHCO) was contacted by the Oregon Advocacy Center, a nonprofit agency serving persons with disabilities. The Center told FHCO that it had been receiving calls from group care home operators asserting that their insurance policies were being canceled by Western World.

The FHCO conducted its own investigation of Western World and filed complaints with HUD in May 2003.  In May 2004, both FHCW and FHCO, together with several group care home operators, filed a federal class action lawsuit against Western World, seeking an end to Western World’s policies against persons with mental disabilities and unspecified damages.

Western World moved to have the lawsuit dismissed, arguing that because the insurance policies in question were liability policies and not homeowners policies, they were not covered by the Fair Housing Act. In a motion to dismiss, Western World’s attorneys argued that FHCW and FHCO were attempting an “incredible expansion” of the Fair Housing Act. Western World’s attorneys also argued that the federal McCarran-Ferguson Act required states to regulate insurance and therefore nullified the federal Fair Housing Act.

In its motion to dismiss, Western World did not deny its discriminatory policies against persons with mental disabilities. Citing Wai v. Allstate, a case from Washington, D.C., U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly denied the company’s motion to dismiss.

Zilly wrote, “If, in order to rent to disabled persons, a landlord must risk losing her home through loss of mortgage financing, loss of catastrophe insurance, and loss of liability insurance, she will be disinclined to rent to disabled persons... Such a requirement would directly contravene the purposes of the FHA.”

Zilly continued, “Although the insurance at issue in Wai was a form of property insurance, the court’s reasoning holds true in the instant matter. By cancelling Plaintiffs’ liability insurance, Defendant created a powerful disincentive to provide care for disabled individuals.

Plaintiffs Nevels and Fritz, now without liability insurance, face significant financial risk, and their ability to provide housing for disabled individuals is threatened. “Defendant counters that the nexus between cancelling liability insurance and making housing unavailable is to attenuated to support FHA liability because liability insurance is not related directly to Plaintiffs’ ownership of their houses. However,  Plaintiffs Nevels and Fritz now bear the risks and costs for all injury, loss, or damage other than that provided for by property or hazard insurance.

This undoubtedly could make owning and retaining real property unavailable; simply preventing foreclosure is not sufficient to make housing unavailable.” John P. Relman, plaintiffs' lead counsel, remarked on the importance of Zilly’s decision for other victims of insurance discrimination around the country. “We believe that insurance discrimination on the basis of disability is widespread, and this well-reasoned opinion will put insurance companies on notice that federal courts will not permit these business practices to continue,” Relman said.Jesse Wing, a Seattle-based attorney who acted as local counsel in the case, echoed Relman about the importance of Zilly’s ruling.

“The ruling on the motion to dismiss was very powerful and very critical to this case,” Wing said. “It breaks new ground and it tells insurers around the country that professional liability insurance is covered under the Fair Housing Act.”

Even with that powerful ruling, according to Wing, the parties still engaged in an intense discovery process to bring both sides “close to a settlement.” “Western World had the attitude that their experience in the insurance field told them that their discrimination was justifiable,” Wing said.  “They kept telling us that they had evidence to show that residents with mental illness create greater risk and that was what excused and justified their behavior.”

“What we found through discovery,” Wing continued, “was that they had no such experience. They had no ... data to show that they had paid out more when claims involved persons with mental disabilities.”

Regarding the settlement, Wing said that it showed insurance companies “discrimination is a very costly enterprise” and that persons with disabilities “will be defended.”

Penny Nevels, the owner of a group care home in Seattle, received a notice from Western World in November 2002 stating that her insurance would be canceled, because she had a “mental illness designation” on the license of her group home. Nevels had two residents with mental disabilities in her home.

Nevels was confused by the notice, because she had never filed a claim with Western World and couldn’t understand why they would cancel her policy. Nevels asserted in her complaint against Western World that she would have been forced to evict her mentally disabled residents in violation of the Fair Housing Act in order to keep her policy with Western World.

Nevels managed to find another insurance company that would insure her group care home, but at a significantly higher cost. When the state of Washington eliminated the regulation requiring group care homes to carry liability insurance, Nevels canceled her policy, because it was so expensive.
Karla Caraño owns and operates Lord’s Hill House, a group care home in Sohomish, Wash. Lord’s Hill House caters to the needs  of persons with mental disabilities and houses up to six residents. Caraño is a registered nurse who specializes in care for persons with mental disabilities.

In November 2002, Caraño received a notice from Western World indicating that an inspection of her home revealed a “resident diagnossed (sic) as schizophrenia (sic).”

Caraño also reported difficulty in finding replacement insurance, and eventually purchased a policy for nearly double what her Western World policy had cost.  Caraño also dropped her insurance coverage when the state of Washington suspended the requirement that group homes carry it.

Maria Fritz is the owner of Fritz Care Services in Kent, Wash. Fritz Care Services operates a five-bedroom group care home for persons with mental or physical disabilities. At the time of the lawsuit, Fritz Care Services had five residents.

In December 2002, Fritz received a notice from Western World that stated, “Western World Insurance Company no longer writes adult family homes licensed with the mental illness designation.”

Fritz scrambled to find replacement insurance, eventually buying a policy that cost her five times what she had been paying for her Western World policy. “We’re not talking about folks outside the mainstream of society,” Wing said of the disabled residents at the heart of the litigation.  “We have an aging population in this country, and many of us are going to live in these adult family homes.”

The Western World Insurance Group is based in Franklin Lakes, N.J. and writes insurance under the Western World, Stratford, Westco, and Tudor nameplates. In 2005, the company reported $28 million in profits with $311 million in revenue. The company has $1.3 billion in assets.  As part of the settlement, the plaintiffs and Western World agreed to establish a settlement fund for the benefit of all other adult family home operators in Washington and  Oregon who received a notice of cancellation non-renewal of insurance coverage from Western World between Jan. 1, 2002, and May 7, 2004 that made reference to mental illness or a mental illness designation associated with the insured’s adult residential care facility license.

Western World also agreed to comply with the Fair Housing Act in the future, provide disability rights education and training to all of its supervisory employees and officers engaged in underwriting or pricing insurance to congregate living providers, and to establish procedures designed to track and report all claims of discrimination under the Fair Housing Act by its customers or applicants.

According to Lauren Walker, executive director of the Fair Housing Center, the lawsuit exposed and ended the company's practice of terminating and refusing to renew insurance coverage for adult family homes serving people with mental illnesses. “We were surprised how blatant the discrimination was,” she said.

“Some notices agreed to continue coverage if operators agreed to get rid of their residents with mental illnesses,” Walker added. Moloy Good, the test coordinator for FHCO, said he hoped the settlement would change the behavior of insurance companies that might discriminate. “People with mental illnesses are entitled to housing and folks who provide them shelter are entitled to insurance for that shelter,” Good said in an interview on  Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Pegge McGuire, FHCO’s executive director echoed Walker’s sentiment about the discrimination. “We were just shocked about how widespread it was,” she said. McGuire said that her agency did testing but it was inconclusive. “It was difficult to test this policy,” McGuire said. “We had a tough time determining if the discrimination started with the insurance brokers or with the underwriters. Fortunately, LaurenWalker’s group was able to get all the information it did from the state of Washington.” McGuire said that Oregon did not require insurance carriers to send cancellation notices to state officials.

McGuire said that FHCW’s enforcement coordinator had worked in the insurance industry for many years and was able decipher much of the evidence and information gathered during the case. According to  McGuire, the work of Relman and Associates pushed Western World to come to the settlement table. “We really thought they were going to go to litigation on this,” McGuire said. Calls to several agents who write Western World policies seemed to indicate that news of the settlement had not reached them. Sandy Baxter, a Greensboro, N.C. branch manager for the Swett & Crawford insurance brokerage said he had not heard of the settlement and that no word of any Western World policy changes had reached his office.

“It might have reached the home office,” Baxter said, “but nothing’s filtered down to me.” Joe Miller, an underwriter with Market Finders Insurance Services in Louisville, Ky. Had also not heard of the settlement.  McGuire and Wing both asserted that there are other insurance companies around the country who engage in discrimination against persons with disabilities.

“Western World is just the first company we decided to pursue,” McGuire said. “Fair housing advocates need to be cognizant of that and look into the practices of the insurance companies in their areas.” Wing added, “There are more companies out there who are still openly engaging in these types of discriminatory underwriting guidelines. Either they don’t know it’s illegal, or they don’t care.”

Western World declined to comment for this story.


It shouldn't come as any surprise to readers that Western World was the only one of six insurance firms to refuse to settle the Waters case.  WW wouldn't give ten cents to anyone let alone some guy falsely imprisoned for 18 years.
The Boston Globe is reporting:

The town of Ayer and five of its insurers have agreed to pay $3.4 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit filed by the estate of the late Kenneth Waters, who spent more than 18 years in prison for a murder he did not commit before his sister earned a law degree and helped free him through DNA evidence.  The estate was represneted by Barry Sheck of Neufeld Sheck and Brustin.

Ayer police were accused of coercing false testimony to convict Waters and withholding evidence that could have cleared him. A sixth insurance company, Western World Insurance Group, has declined to settle, but negotiations are continuing.

Kenneth Waters was freed from prison in March 2001, and the Middlesex district attorney’s office dropped the charges against him. But he enjoyed only six months of freedom. He died on Sept. 19, 2001, after he fell on his head from a 15-foot wall in Rhode Island while taking a shortcut to a restaurant.

Details at: 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Now Check out Western World on The Rip Off Report!

When you are finished here you should take a few minutes to look at the Western World post on The Rip Off Report:

Additional photos of the NJ book store vandalism can be found at: