Mr. Long Term Care
Let Care be our Long Term Commitment
I can safely say that the purchase of my LTC insurance was the wisest and most forward-thinking, financial decision of my life. - Mr. LTC

Do your know someone who required or will soon require long term care?
"After age 65, Americans have more than a 70% chance of needing some form of long-term care."
-American Society on Aging

"An estimated 12.1 million Americans need assistance from others to carry out everyday activities."
- As noted on

Looking for a Great Policy for a Great Price?

Let Us Help! Request your Instant Long-Term Care Quote!

Law Articles : Fresno Superior Court Rejects Insurance Companies' Requests to Keep Redlining Data Secret


Court Decision Will Help Advocates Identify Which Insurance Companies
May Be Discriminating Against Minority and Low Income Communities

FRESNO, CA - In an important victory for minority and low income consumers, a Fresno Superior Court today rejected a request by Farmers Insurance and USAA to bar public disclosure of important data that could document discriminatory redlining by the companies. Redlining is the practice of discriminating against consumers based on their race or geography. Last month, the two insurance companies filed a lawsuit against California Insurance Commissioner Charles Quackenbush to block the release of redlining data filed because they maintain the information constitutes a trade secret. On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Stephen Kane rejected the companies' motion for a preliminary injunction in the case, which would have prevented the disclosure of the documents while the suit is litigated.

"Redlining is no secret in California's low income and minority communities," said Mark Savage, an attorney with Public Advocates, the law firm representing a group of community organizations that intervened in the case. "We are pleased that the court rejected the insurance companies' argument that this data should not be disclosed because it is a trade secret."

Since 1995, companies that sell auto, homeowners, or small business commercial insurance have been required to file redlining data with the California Department of Insurance. The companies are required to disclose detailed information about their sales practices for each zip code in every county, including the race or national origin and gender of each applicant; the number of applications received for each line of insurance; and the number of applications declined for each line of insurance.

The Department must issue an annual report summarizing the data filed for the previous calendar year. The reports summarize each insurer's record in all underserved zip codes combined, which makes it difficult to pinpoint where individual companies may be engaged in redlining. But even these summaries show great disparities between the rate at which insurance companies write policies in minority and low income communities versus the rates at which policies are written elsewhere in the state. For example, the 1995 report shows that while 16.6 percent of California's population lived in underserved zip codes, the average insurer wrote only 5.57 percent of its private passenger automobile liability policies, 6.62 percent of its homeowners policies, and 9.55 percent of its commercial multi-peril (non-liability) policies in these low-income, minority zip codes.

USAA and Farmers Insurance Exchange claim that this data is their trade secret, even though the regulation implementing the disclosure law makes clear that the information is expressly open to public inspection.

Consumers Union, National Council of La Raza, Korean Youth and Community Center, Oakland Chinese Community Council, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference intervened in the case because the data would help the groups track redlining abuses by individual companies.

"It is outrageous that insurance companies try to hide this important information from the public," said Earl Lui, Senior Staff Attorney for Consumers Union. "We hope the court's decision will prompt the disclosure of redlining data for all companies so that we can identify which insurers are violating the law."

There are a number of different lawsuits currently pending concerning the redlining data disclosure regulation. In December 1999, State Farm sued Quackenbush after the Insurance Commissioner released the company's data to consumer advocate Birny Birnbaum. State Farm is trying to force Birnbaum to return the data and to block Quackenbush from giving it to any other member of the public. On December 13, a San Francisco Superior Court judge denied State Farm's motion for a temporary restraining order. Despite State Farm's setback, Farmers and USAA filed two similar lawsuits against Quackenbush in Fresno Superior Court. Three more insurers then intervened: Allstate, Firemen's Fund, and SAFECO. In late January, the Fresno court issued a temporary restraining order in the case.

Back in November 1999, Consumers Union and other community groups requested the redlining data for the five largest insurers in each of the key lines of insurance covered by the regulation. Because of the temporary restraining order in the Fresno case, Quackenbush has stated that he will not release the data for the other insurance companies covered in the November request, even though not all of them have claimed that their data is a trade secret. In order to resolve this issue, the community groups filed their own separate lawsuit against the Commissioner in San Francisco Superior Court to require him to release the data for these other companies.


Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, is an independent, nonprofit testing and information organization, serving only the consumer. We are a comprehensive source of unbiased advice about products and services, personal finance, health, nutrition, and other consumer concerns. Since 1936, our mission has been to test products, inform the public, and protect consumers.