This case has some unusual features. One is that it's hard to distinguish the plaintiffs from the defendants. The Farmers insurance exchanges are technically co-ops owned by its policy holders. Their business is managed by the parent, Farmers Insurance Group, itself a subsidiary of Zurich Financial Services. But plainly this isn't an arms-length relationship. Among other clues to the interrelationship, according to documents filed in the case, Farmers Group's chairman, Paul Hopkins, serves as a top executive of several of the exchanges, which share a Wilshire Boulevard address with Farmers Group.
Rosenfield maintains that the distinction between the exchanges and Farmers Group is fiction. He contends that nothing in the settlement requires the exchanges to use the money they end up with to benefit policyholders directly by lowering rates (Girardi says that will be the insurance commissioner's task.). Rosenfield is convinced that Farmers will have an incentive to discourage customers from filing claims, say by requiring them to read through a long and complicated claim form.