State regulators are poised to suspend or revoke the license of Liberty National Life Insurance Co. in the wake of a five-month investigation into alleged discrimination against some consumers seeking policies.
Investigators with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation said they found more than 1,149 violations in reviewing more than 7,000 life insurance applications at Liberty's Birmingham, Ala., headquarters between June and November. The majority of alleged violations, 1,053, were for discriminatory practices.
An order issued by Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty gives the insurer 21 days to show cause why its license should remain in good standing.
Mike Majors, Liberty's vice president of investor relations, declined comment late Thursday, saying the company has received neither results of the on-site investigation nor McCarty's order.
Liberty has about 182,000 policies in Florida.
According to the state, the allegations against Liberty center on Florida's Unfair Practices Law, which forbids life insurers from refusing to issue policies based on national origin and forbids discrimination in underwriting practices based on national origin, potential lawful travel and citizenship.
A significant number of consumers hurt by Liberty's practices were of Haitian origin or descent, regulators said.
"Discrimination of any kind by an insurance company will not be tolerated by this office," Florida Deputy Insurance Commissioner Mary Beth Senkewicz said in a statement. "We will do everything within our power to ensure that Florida consumers are protected from such unconscionable practices."