Ivan Massow built a Â£22m business dedicated to providing insurance and mortgages. to gay men and women. All it took to take it down was a homophobic insurance giant, he claims
Massow founded Massow Financial Services back in the early 1990s, when insurance companies refused to give gay people equal protection. The AIDS crisis made gays a bad investment and many companies denied gays coverage. And, if they did, the rates were extortionately inflated. Massow stepped in to adjust the rates. The company took off and soon enough Massow found himself competing with the big boys. He even ran a series of adverts taking on more established companies’ anti-gay reputations, including a 1996 poster against a company called Allied Dunbar, which would later become part of Swiss insurance monolith, Zurich.
In 2002, Zurich approached Massow to arrange a cease-fire and potentially lucrative business deal. As part of the arrangement, Zurich floated Massow a Â£330,000 loan. Massow admits he doubted Zurich’s claims that they would adjust their policies for gay people, but he signed the contract anyway. It soon became clear, however, that Zurich had no intentions of altering their discriminatory ways. He alleged they were cruising Massow’s client list.
Massow withdrew from their arrangement and Zurich asked for their money back – a move that would lead to the disintegration of Massow’s business. Now Massow’s taking the company to court.
A Bristol judge will allow the case to go to trial, saying that there are two possible scenarios.
The first is perhaps Zurich appreciated there was substantial business to be made by selling to the gay community. Its status would be enhanced by doing so.
The second is that Zurich disliked IMC’s campaign by saying Zurich discriminated against homosexuals. It had been Zurich’s policy not to accept insurance applications from anyone who said they were openly gay. Zurich could then either control IMC or shut it down. I make no judgment on either of those suppositions.
Massow and Zurich will now battle it out legal style. Speaking with Pink News UK, Massow remarked:
One of the saddest aspects of this case is that people like Zurich have been assisted by other gay financial services companies. I never put a gay competitor down, I just attacked the insurance industry.
I can’t believe they are helping companies like Zurich and not joining in the fight. I have no commercial reason for saying this – I don’t have a company anymore.
If he wins the 13 million pound lawsuit, perhaps Massow can jump back into the fray.
Anti-gay company wrecked my business, claims insurer [The Times]
Insurer tried to ruin me, says gay activist [The Guardian]
Zurich ruined me gay businessman claims [Pink News UK]