Hartford Insurance Tells Crate & Barrel, Children's Place: We Won't Defend Your POS Lawsuit

As retailers try to master the new terrain of today—with mobile payments, item-level RFID, QR codes on subway walls or digital receipts—it's good to know the largest insurance companies have their backs. It's just that some of them seem to be holding knives.

At least that's the sense one gets from The Hartford (Hartford Fire Insurance), which has now filed federal lawsuits in Illinois and New Jersey to tell two of its retail customers—Children's Place and Crate & Barrel—that they're on their own in defending against some POS lawsuits. The specific litigation involves consumers suing the chains because store associates asked for Zip codes at checkout. How prohibited such conduct is remains under debate, but not at Hartford, which has a fine-print exclusion for defending anything "arising out of the violation of a person's right of privacy created by any state or federal act," according to copies of both lawsuits. Whatever happened to the days when insurance companies saw their duty as defending their customers? (Answer: They were all April 1.)