The planned merger of Travelers Group and Citicorp came under fire Wednesday from a community group complaining that Travelers locates its insurance agencies in predominately white, suburban neighborhoods.
The Association of Community Organization for Reform Now, known as Acorn, released the study showing the pattern on the eve of a Federal Reserve Board hearing on the proposed merger. Acorn said the study shows Travelers discriminates against minorities, and it urged the Fed to reject the Citicorp application.
Acorn reviewed phone book and Internet listings to determine the ZIP codes where Travelers operates agencies. It then compared this data with the racial makeup of each ZIP code.
The group found that 75% of the agencies were located in ZIP codes where whites make up at least 85% of the population. Acorn also said the nearest Travelers agency was located an average of three miles away from poor, inner-city areas.
A Travelers spokeswoman said the study was inaccurate, noting the company has $2 billion in policies alone in minority communities in Washington.
"Doing a study of phone books is not exactly consistent with the realities of the marketplace," the spokesman said. "The fact is we have a very extensive presence in minority communities and have one of the best minority agent recruitment and training programs in the United States."