Why Lee Insurance Agency won’t allow its employees to sell their home for insurance
Lee Insurance Co. is facing an uncertain future as it struggles to pay its employees and find money to pay suppliers.
Lee said Monday it would not allow its staff to sell or rent their homes to cover expenses, including for a home mortgage and insurance, to cover employees.
Employees would be able to purchase insurance on the property through a third party.
Lee employees had not received a notice from the insurer that the company will be unable to sell the homes, which it bought for $1.2 million from a local real estate company in 2012.
Lee spokeswoman Melissa Rios said the company had not yet been given a notice.
“We have no comment at this time,” she said.
Employees were given notice earlier this month that the firm will have to liquidate its existing property and shut down operations as part of a reorganization, said Scott Wilson, an attorney with the firm that represented the workers.
He said the workers were not notified about the change in policy until after the company closed its office and closed all of its offices.
Employees had no idea the firm would close its offices, Wilson said.
The Lee workers were told they would be receiving an severance package, which was not disclosed, said Wilson, who is representing them.
The severance amount will depend on how long employees work for Lee and how much they make.
Lee Insurance said it would need to provide $4,700 a month in severance to its employees.
The company said it could provide an additional $2,500 per month if it could find a buyer.
Lee did not have a plan to pay employees for the two weeks they would have to take off work.
It said it is in discussions with the federal government and other parties for a plan that would pay them a salary, but not severance.
The employees are entitled to health care benefits and the right to request job security.
Lee, based in Washington, has about 700 employees.
It’s one of three insurance companies in the U.S. that provide coverage for retirees, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Lee’s workers will be able only to buy the company’s home insurance on Lee’s insurance website.
The company also said it will pay $3,600 to cover their home insurance premiums, but it could not provide details on the amounts, said Joe McDaniel, a Lee spokesman.
Lee’s workers are eligible for a retirement plan, but they cannot get the benefits for themselves until the company is sold, Wilson added.
The workers’ attorney, John Tait, said the employees’ loss is not insignificant because Lee is losing $400 million a year because of a lack of profit from its business.
Lee is still able to pay for its employees through its other insurance, which includes life insurance, he said.
“This is not the way Lee is going to pay.”
Agency executives declined to comment, saying they were focused on finding a buyer for the company.
Lee was a subsidiary of General Electric Co. until 2013 when it sold to the company known as GE Capital.
It was a $12 billion acquisition of GE Capital that resulted in GE Capital’s exit from the U and a series of mergers and acquisitions.
The employees, most of whom work for GE Capital, are owed about $500,000 in severances, according.
Lee employees are not eligible for other benefits, including sick leave, the workers’ union said.
Lee did not immediately return a message left Monday.