By Jonathon Giesbrecht|Washington Post Staff Writer|March 06, 2019 10:30:25The Federal Trade Commission has fined Farmers Insurance for misleading consumers about the safety and effectiveness of its own insurance products, and ordered it to make its products freely available to the public.
The FTC said Farmers Insurance misleadingly marketed its “Farmers Assurance” policy as being the most effective in providing coverage to farmers and other consumers.
It said Farmers Assurance covers only “farmers and small businesses” and doesn’t cover “farm employees and other individuals who work in farms or agricultural enterprises.”
The FTC cited a March 2016 article in the Washington Post on the website of the National Farmers Union, which said Farmers and other farm owners have long relied on Farmers Assure as their insurance policy for farm employees and others who work on farms and agricultural enterprises.
The complaint alleges the website “failed to adequately warn consumers of the potentially significant financial risk they face as a result of being exposed to Farmers Assuring policies.”
It said consumers who purchased Farmers Assurances after the article appeared, and were “overcharged” for coverage, “may be liable for the damages caused by the inaccurate information.”
The complaint says Farmers Assurers’ website also failed to disclose that farmers and small business owners would be covered under the Farmers Assured policy and that it was “not a B 2 B product,” meaning it didn’t provide a full protection plan.
In response to the complaint, Farmers Insurance said it is reviewing its policies and will not participate in the program.
The agency is also asking the FTC to investigate whether Farmers Insurance misled consumers about its own products and whether it misled consumers when it advertised that Farmers Assures coverage would be “the best.”
The National Farmers Association is also investigating whether Farmers insurance misled consumers by claiming that its Farmers Assurer coverage would cover “all farm employees, including employees who work at the farms.”