Sometimes we wonder if insurance companies spend their days armed to the teeth, hunting for their own feet.
Turns out the great California insurer AAA--you know, the people with the maps and the guidebooks--in order to increase its profits, has insulted its thousands of gay customers and possibly driven lots of business out the door. We'll see about that.
Here's the story.
Our client and his long-term boyfriend live in San Francisco. Let's call them Ryan and Colin.
In 2011 a fire did lots of damage to their house, which is formally owned by Ryan. AAA cut corners to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars--which, trust us, is pretty much standard operating procedure for insurance companies these days. The couple tried to fight AAA on their own and got nowhere. Eventually they hired us and we filed a bad faith action. Trial is set for May in San Francisco Superior. Come on by; it's gonna be a party.
In the meantime, AAA's lawyers decided to depose Colin, the boyfriend. During the deposition the lawyers asked Colin about conversations with Ryan. We told Ryan not to answer because in California married people don't have to reveal their communications. It's a very old privilege which recognizes the sanctity of marriage.
You can probably see where this is going. AAA lawyers argued that the privilege doesn't apply because Ryan and Colin aren't married. (Here's their letter, if you can bear to read it.) But as AAA and its really smart lawyers must know, until June of 2013, Ryan and Colin were barred by law from getting married. In the letter, AAA says:
"The basis for not extending the same privileges to non-married couples is a reflection of the state's strong policy favoring marriage, and the resulting fact that cohabitating couples are generally not entitled to the benefits afforded to married couples."
Really? Has AAA been sleeping for several years? Do its really smart lawyers really believe that in 2015 the marital communication privilege can be denied to men who would gladly have been married had the law allowed?
Seems like AAA is against gay marriage. Or possibly AAA doesn't care how it appears, so long as it doesn't lose a lawsuit and have to pay what it owes. Or maybe AAA is just looking for its own feet, so it can blast them!