This article is meant to change the culture at Allstate, and other corporations like them, that to date do not recognize the gender bias built into their business processes. I have been treated respectfully by my Allstate insurance agents. Sadly they have little/no influence on changing the way Allstate's software applications are implemented. (details below).
Chairman, President and CEO
The Allstate Corporation
Let me introduce myself as an Allstate customer since September 2014, when my husband and I purchased a home in Arizona. When I later had problems with my insurance coverage for our home in New Hampshire, I added policies covering that house, our three cars plus an umbrella policy. Over the years I've questioned the gender bias of certain company actions and now feel that I must bring this to your attention.
First let me share a story with you from the 1970s, when we bought our first home in northern California. My husband was working on a doctorate at UC Berkeley. We moved from New York, when I negotiated an IBM transfer to their marketing sales office in Oakland California. Later that year we got married, and a month later we purchased our first home based on my savings and my income.
Why is that important?
At the time, the mortgage industry penalized homeowners if they didn't maintain their mortgage for at least five years. This pre-payment penalty meant we needed to get our mortgage from the seller's bank. Here's what happened when we visited the bank to apply for a mortgage and subsequent steps to close the loan.
- Loan officer spent an hour explaining the mortgage process to my husband, making no eye contact with me.
- Once the loan officer ended his speech, I surprised him with my list of questions. Unlike my husband who has never focused on finances, I had already taken a class on how to buy a house.
- Fortunately California doesn't use lawyers for closings. When I arrived to sign papers at the title company, the woman apologized for the bank's paperwork.
- First she explained that she'd rejected the first package because the bank changed my last name to match my husband's name, and she knew this was wrong.
- She explained in the new package was a crazy one sentence page that I've never forgotten. The bank was telling me to lie, to state I had taken my husband's last name when I had not, nor did I ever plan to do this.
- After several calls with the bank, a compromise was reached …
Gender Bias: Why & When It Happens
In most families, each person assumes different roles based on their interest and skill set. In my family I've handled finances from the very beginning. That includes things like bill paying, bank accounts, mortgage applications and taxes.
It took California several years before they updated their state income tax system to recognize two social security numbers on a tax return. I decided if I was the one preparing our tax returns, my name would go first. For several years that resulted in a notice from the state of California, that my husband had not filed his income taxes. After 40 years, I honestly can't remember if I was able to fix the problem with a phone call or letter.
So let's look at my relationship with Allstate.
- September 2014 – closed on a new home in Arizona, one where my husband could build an observatory in the backyard. Per my realtor's recommendation, my Allstate relationship started with homeowner insurance.
- 8/28/14 – received Allstate quote for $703/yr and interestingly, there is no name on the quote (emailed to me).
- 9/1/14 – received Allstate “home policy purchase confirmation” email, and the email had Tina as the addressee.
- 9/1/14 – oops, let Allstate know that “closing slipped” as I switched mortgage brokers.
- 10/22/14 – first Allstate email saved after the closing and yikes, it reads “Ted, since you're a new customer …”.
- 2015 a busy year – so only email I have is when I was trying to set up account for eSign. I setup my userid, password, email address, etc but unable to change the name on the account.
- October 2016 – is when I expressed dismay that emails continued to come to me (my email address) but emails continue to address Ted? Here's how that dialog went with my Arizona agent:
- Tina “Someday companies will learn to ask who handles family finances. I do, and I might read these (emails) when addressed to Tina (not Ted)”
- John “Tina, I am sorry for the mix-up. The reason you get e-mails addressed to Ted is the e-mail address attached to Ted's profile is your e-mail address. Does Ted have an e-mail address? If not I will just take your e-mail address off of Ted's profile. Again sorry!”
- Tina “John, You missed my point. I make 99% of the financial decisions. I did all the mortgage paperwork. I contacted you for insurance … so why isn't my name on the account, not Ted???”
- December 2016 – when I couldn't resolve issues with my old insurance company, I moved coverage for my New Hampshire home, all vehicles plus an umbrella policy to Allstate. So today I think Allstate should value my business.
First Homeowner Insurance Claims Illustrates Gender Bias Problem!
Fast forward to 2018 and my first homeowner insurance claim in 40+ years. We had the hot water heater in our NH home explode per the tenant, and I got to manage everything remotely from Florida. Details to follow but I've got to run right now …