Thursday, August 22, 2019

Terrible Carrier Tricks: Policy Holder Service edition

One of my life insurance clients called the other day to see if I could help her with her sons' policies. Seems she had bought each of them a Universal Life policy some years ago (before we'd met) and she wanted to professional advice. I was of course happy to oblige, and asked her a few questions:

The plans were about 20 or so years old, and written by her Auto Owners Insurance agent. He has since retired, and the agency to which the plans were re-assigned hasn't been particularly helpful. She did have the annual statements handy, and we were able to determine that the plans were doing well so far (a welcome relief: they often get "upside down" this far in). But it seemed to me that it wouldn't hurt to increase the premium a bit as a hedge against future slumps. To that end, I suggested that she contact AO directly to see about obtaining in-force illustrations (aka "what-ifs") for each plan.

Here's why: due to various tax laws over the years, there is a cap on how much one can put into a given UL each year (yeah. I think that's dumb, too, but there you go). So we needed to determine if we could bump the premiums, and if so, to what effect. Quite routine, really.

What happened next is decidedly not routine: when she called the Home Office, she was told that only her agent could order these illustrations. Putting aside the obvious question of what if she had no agent, why is it the carrier's business if she wanted them? As the owner of the policies, she has every right to this information (as well as changing beneficiaries, premiums, etc).

And even if she wasn't the owner, she should have been told that her sons would need to make the request themselves (not her on their behalf). There's just no excuse for how poorly this was handled. One wonders how she would have been treated if it was a claim.

Shame on Auto Owners Insurance.

[ed: we generally like to give carriers a heads' up on, and opportunity to correct, these types of issues, but AO doesn't seem to have a media relations contact email available]
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