A former broker for Farmers Insurance has settled his lawsuit against the company, in which he alleged that despite being a top producer he was fired in 2020 due to his age and for reporting problems with a software system.
Plaintiff Solomon Aflalo’s Los Angeles Superior Court suit alleged whistleblower retaliation and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, naming multiple Farmers entities as defendants.
The 58-year-old’s plaintiff’s attorneys filed court papers on Friday with Judge Joseph Lipner notifying him of the settlement, but no terms were divulged.
In their court papers, Farmers attorneys denied any wrongdoing or liability on the part of the companies.
Aflalo began working for Farmers’ entities as a independent insurance broker in 1989 at age 21 and was called a “Farmers Franchise Kid” due to his youth, the suit stated. For much of his time with Farmers, he was one of its top agents nationwide and never received a complaint about his work, the suit stated.
In 2019, Aflalo was chosen the number-one producing commercial agent in California, but he often complained to management that he was being discriminated against because of his age, in part because he and other older brokers were pressured to sign a new contract with less favorable terms, the suit stated.
Aflalo also disclosed information regarding the Farmers Xactware 360Value Home Estimator software, which he believed provided inaccurate information to the financial detriment of Farmers clients, the suit states.
“Unfortunately for Farmers’ insureds, this problem reared its ugly head when wildfires raged throughout the state of California, destroying homes that lay in their paths” the suit stated. “Notably, two examples occurred in Southern California, the Thomas Fire in the Santa Barbara region and the Woolsey Fires in and around Malibu.”
Aflalo had two customers whose homes were destroyed in the Woolsey Fire, and one elderly customer who was significantly uninsured complained to the state Department of Insurance, the suit stated.
“Aflalo insisted that there was a flaw in the system that needed to be reviewed, and suggested that agents be allowed to increase the valuation output by Xactware 360 to better valuate the loss of Farmers’ insureds,” the suit stated. “In this regard, he advocated zealously for his clients.”
For several years, Aflalo reported to management that Farmers’ practices regarding the setting of auto insurance premiums violated the state Insurance Code and cheated his customers, the suit filed in July 2020 stated.
Although insurance companies are required to recalculate auto premiums yearly based on the depreciated value of a vehicle, Farmers did not do this, he alleged.
In December 2019, Aflalo received a letter notifying him he would be fired in March 2020, but he was ultimately asked to stay on until mid-May of that year and worked those last two months for free, the suit stated.
Although he brought in up to $800,000 in new premiums in 2019, he was told he was being fired for a “lack of production,” the suit states.