National Fair Housing Alliance Settles Disparate Impact Lawsuit with Travelers Indemnity Company

For Immediate Release
February 23, 2018
Contact: Shanti Abedin | (202) 898-1661 | sabedin@nationalfairhousing.org

National Fair Housing Alliance Settles Disparate Impact Lawsuit with Travelers Indemnity Company

Washington, D.C. – The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) announced today that it has settled a lawsuit with Travelers Indemnity Company.  The settlement guarantees that Washington, DC landlords will not be denied commercial insurance coverage from Travelers simply because their apartments are rented to people who use Housing Choice Vouchers, also known as Section 8. In Washington, DC, Housing Choice Voucher participants are disproportionately African-American and women-headed households with children.

As part of the agreement, Travelers will pay $450,000 to NFHA for damages, costs, and fees, and Travelers agrees that it will not ask about the source of income of residents at DC properties it considers insuring. This includes not inquiring about the Housing Choice Voucher program and other government housing subsidy programs in connection with the underwriting, pricing, or eligibility for new and existing insurance policies for private rental housing properties in DC.  Additionally, Travelers will provide training to employees involved in the sale or underwriting of insurance for rental properties.

“This is a victory for landlords and the residents of Washington, D.C. The actions of Travelers disproportionately harmed low-income African Americans and women-headed households who use Housing Choice Vouchers. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race and familial status. Additionally, the D.C. Human Rights Act has prohibited discrimination based on source of income since 1977. This settlement sends a message to all insurance companies that they cannot discriminate against voucher holders or landlords who rent to them,” said Shanna Smith, NFHA President and CEO.

NFHA began testing insurers and insurance brokers in 2015 to investigate possible source of income and race discrimination. Through testing NFHA confirmed that Travelers had policies in place that denied insurance to landlords who rented to voucher recipients. Every landlord tester was told that Travelers would not underwrite their apartment building because they housed voucher recipients. The lawsuit, filed in May 2016, alleged that these practices violated the Fair Housing Act’s and D.C. Human Rights Act’s prohibitions on race and sex discrimination, as well as the D.C. law’s prohibition on source-of-income discrimination.

Travelers makes no admission or concession that its underwriting policies violated any law, statute, or regulation and makes no admission of liability by resolving the lawsuit.

NFHA was represented by Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC, a Washington, DC-based civil rights law firm.


National Fair Housing Alliance

Founded in 1988, the National Fair Housing Alliance is a consortium of more than 220 private, non-profit fair housing organizations, state and local civil rights agencies, and individuals from throughout the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the National Fair Housing Alliance, through comprehensive education, advocacy, enforcement, and neighborhood-based community development programs, provides equal access to apartments, houses, mortgage loans, and insurance policies for all residents in the nation.