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Farmers Insurance to settle Ohio home insurance discrimination suit for $4.3 million

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) and the state's Attorney General have reached an agreement to settle a 1999 lawsuit charging discrimination in the sale of home insurance policies by Farmers Insurance Group.

"We are confident that [the] settlement will ensure all Farmers' customers and applicants are treated fairly."

Farmers, which stood accused of restricting access to home insurance in predominantly minority neighborhoods — a practice known as redlining — will advance $1 million in grants and $2 million in low-interest loans for community-based programs to build, repair, improve, or remodel dwellings throughout Ohio.

"We are confident that [the] settlement will ensure all Farmers' customers and applicants are treated fairly," says Betty Montgomery, Ohio's Attorney General.

The OCRC, Toledo Fair Housing Center, and Housing Advocates Inc. of Cleveland will receive an additional $1.3 million to provide housing in Ohio.

"Insurance companies cannot have policies that exclude customers based on their race or the racial composition of their neighborhood," says G. Michael Payton, executive director of the OCRC.

Farmers, which admits no wrongdoing, also agreed to adopt a fair-housing training program, to state its commitment to equal opportunities for insurance in its promotional materials, and to increase marketing and advertising in predominantly minority communities throughout Ohio.

"These changes are necessary to ensure that homeowners in Ohio's historically underserved communities will have equal and fair access to insurance," says Lisa Rice, executive director of the Toledo Fair Housing Center.

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