Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Incredibly Stupid Carrier Tricks

Stupid carrier tricks has been a recurring theme at InsureBlog, proving that we are not shills for the industry that has provided us a way to make a living for a number of years. There are no perfect carriers, nor perfect industries for that matter. For the most part, the carriers get it right . . . except in areas of customer service.

And some times they do the right thing from a contractual perspective but forget that they could have made a better decision from a perspective of goodwill.

Customer service is virtually non-existent in the carrier world.

So far this year I have encountered more issues on relatively simple things that have frustrated my clients and taken up more of my time than is necessary. Here are some examples.

Carrier notifies client they have a dependent who appears to be aging off the plan. Client calls carrier asking when coverage will terminate and if their premium will change. Carrier promptly cancels coverage on ALL family members dropping the premium to $0. Client calls carrier who says "Oops!" and reinstates all family members . . . including the over-age dependent.

At this point the client calls me for assistance. I get involved and send an email followed by a call to the carrier. They (eventually) send me a form for the client to complete. It is a clean application that is to be completed (sans medical information) and the client is instructed to check the appropriate box to delete the over-age dependent.

The following month the dependent is dropped, retroactive by two months but the premium is not adjusted. We wait another month for premium accounting to catch up to the dropped dependent.

Nothing happens.

I start calling and emailing (again) the local manager about the issue.

No response.

I call and email, this time copying my client (so she knows I am working on the problem).

No response.

I call again, this time getting the manager instead of her voice mail. She apologizes and tells me I will be called within an hour with a response.

4 days pass and no word.

I call again. This time the manager sends me a terse email telling me that I am not to reveal her name to clients as a contact point for service issues.

This escalates the issue and I am finally told the problem will be resolved at the next billing cycle. If so, this means my client has overpaid some $65 per month for 4 months.

We are still waiting to see what will happen.

I am not holding my breath.

Situation number two involves a different carrier. My client (who is pregnant) wants to spin her husband and son off the current plan to a less expensive plan with the same carrier. She has been trying to accomplish this for 4 months on her own with no success.

She was not originally my client, but contacted me because I came recommended by another client. She names me her agent of record and I start to work on her problem. The carrier assures me this can be handled with a letter, requesting the dependent change.

Of course, they were only kidding.

Seems there is also a form for the client to sign, plus a form for their PCP to sign, before the change can be effected.

The change was finally effected . . . after 2 months with me working on it. Fast forward another month. The baby is born and is taken to the doc at 3 weeks of age for an initial visit.

Only problem, the baby is not on the plan. A call to the carrier from the doc's office and an hour later here is the result.

The carrier will only agree to add the baby to the plan if she signs a letter and faxes it to the carrier (from the doc's office) naming the carrier as agent of record (essentially firing me) and she gives them a credit card for $520 to cover adding the baby on for April and May.

All this for a $100 office visit.

She signs the letter and gives them a credit card.

Her next call is to me.

She wants to change to another carrier and this cannot be done quickly enough.

One more situation (even though I have quite a few I could relate).

Client applies for coverage with a high deductible ($5700). He takes Lexapro for anxiety.

The medication runs $83 per month.

They surcharged his premium by $96 per month.

Three months later, they came back and said they were only kidding. They are going to refund his $96 overcharge and lower the premium in future months.

At least, that is their story for now and they are sticking to it.
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