Of all the types of claims we see in the life and health business, a natural death claim on a 20 year old policy would seem to be the least likely to be a problem.
After all, such a policy is well past the contestable period, and there's no foul play (my client died of cancer). It's tailor-made for prompt settlement.
Unless, apparently, the carrier's Time Insurance (aka Hartford Life).
The facts are pretty straightforward: we wrote a universal life insurance policy on a gentleman in 1988, and he died of cancer on October 28, 2007. I contacted the carrier immediately, and they responded to the request for paperwork quickly.
And that was the last thing they did "quickly."
I met with the widow a week or so later, and we submitted the completed paperwork on November 9th. Then we waited.
Eventually, I called Kelly Wanovich, the "claim analyst" who had initially responded to our request on October 31st. He told me that it can take up to 10 business days for a claim to be processed and paid. It's now over a month since we filed the claim (for those keeping track at home, that's 20 business days, if we presume that the obviously overworked staff at Time Insurance took off Thanksgiving and "Black Friday"), and still no check. I did receive a call late last week indicating that it was being "processed" and would soon be on its way, but "the check is in the mail" doesn't put food on the widow's table, or make the mortgage payment for a roof over her head.
I even emailed Mr Wanovich last Friday:
"Got your voice mail, and was pleased to hear that the check is (finally) on its way.
I still don't understand why it's taken almost a month (including some 20 business days) for this to happen. I'd like to be able to explain this to [redacted], his widow, as well. Can you help with that?"
Of course, I have yet to receive a response.
There is simply no excuse for such an egregious abuse of the claims process. Trust me, if my client had been a day late with his premium payment, he would have quickly received a "reminder" notice from the carrier. But when it's time to pay, where is that state-of-the-art system to be found? Certainly not in the Claims Department.
It's one thing when there's a legitimate question about a claim; after all, we all suffer when carriers are defrauded. But it is quite another to deliberately withhold money on a straightforward, no-brainer claim such as this.
Unless, of course, you're a carrier, and the term "no brain" fits a little too well.
UPDATE 12/12/07: O Frabjous Day! The death claim check arrived this afternoon, a month after the claim was submitted. On the one hand, this is terrific news for the widow. On the other, it does not mitigate or negate the agregiously long time it took for this to happen.