National People's Action, a coalition of more than 100 inner-city neighborhood organizations and three of the nation's largest insurance companies, have announced an agreement to work together to end property insurance redlining in low-income neighborhoods.
Travelers Indemnity Co. and Hartford Securities Co. -- both based in Hartfod, Conn. -- and U.S Fidelity & Guaranty Co. of Baltimore, recently signed agreements with the Chicago-based organization pledging the companies will make it part of their corporate policy not to deny residential or business insurance solely because of a structure's age or because of its location in an inner-city or predominantly minority neighborhood.
Spokesmen for the three companies said their firms have never used any type of redlining practices. However, they added, the firms are aware it is difficult for low-income, inner-city residents to get affordable property insurance. That, they said, is why the companies have agreed to work with the coalition.
In addition to the antiredlining agreement signed by the three insurance companies, the coalition received promises the firms will encourage independent insurance agents representing the companies to seek out business in low-income neighborhoods.
Travelers and Hartford are initiating programs to recruit and train persons from inner-city areas to become the insurance agents who would serve such neighborhoods.
The three companies will also begin negotiations with coalition leaders in an attempt to establish programs in which each of the insurers would make up to $15 million available for rehabilitation loans for low-income neighborhoods.
Stephen I. Martin, a Hartford vice president, said his company already makes corporate contributions to organizations dealing in such low-interest loans. Martin said he believes the present program could meet the coalition's demans for insurance company investment in inner cities.
F. Harvey Cameron, Travelers' senior vice president for casualty-property personal lines, said his firm plans to seek programs similar to the ones funded by Hartford as a way of meeting the coalition's demands.
This is the second group of insurance companies the coalition says it has motivated to take a corporate stand against redlining. In the past two years, Allstate Insurance Co., State Farm Insurance Co. and Aetna Life & Casualty Co. have signed antiredlining agreements with NPA. a
The group says its next antiredlining target will be Kemper International Insurance Co.