Have you ever had anything lost in the mail, whether going or coming? It’s not a new occurrence with the US Postal Service, but being in a business that depends on mail delivery to some extent, I’ve noticed that the amount of mail being blasted into the twilight zone right now is more than anything I’ve experienced since 9/11/2001.
Life insurance companies, by law, have to allow you to have a second addressee for all notices having to do with your policy. This was implemented because of the number of people who were not receiving their bills, or because of illness or hospitalization missed making a premium payment. With a second addressee, even if the insured is in hospice near death, another person is notified so the coverage won’t lapse when it’s needed most.
I talked with a man today whose father had an AARP/New York Life policy that he had been paying for quarterly for 8 years. The father received a bill in later October last year and the price had gone up, so he called AARP to make sure he was paying the correct amount. When his father spoke to the customer service person he explained that he would get the premium out right away, which he did. He also told them that he was in the late stages of cancer. This may be just me being an advocate for clients and believing that fairness should be the level field that we all play on, and it may not have been legally required, but it seems the moral, upright, good business practice to do at that point would be to ask this gentleman if he would like a second addressee so that if he becomes very ill and misses a notice someone else will get a duplicate. This is, after all, AARP, the self proclaimed advocate for the elderly in our nation.
The man mailed his payment to AARP who says now that they never received it. It’s not clear whether AARP sent out any late notices or tried to call because this father by then was in hospice. While he was still coherent he told his son that he had this life insurance policy and had just paid it.
He died two days after his grace period expired, with no policy in force according to the letter that AARP sent the son. I know I’ve been accused of linking AARP to the devil incarnate and accusing them unfairly. Legally they have every right not to pay this claim with the death coming after a grace period had expired, but wait, a check was sent. The fact that they didn’t receive it before the end of the grace period, or received it and misplaced it in their morass of old people’s money that they receive every day, does not mean this person didn’t have a policy. He paid them for eight years without every having a late payment and their stance is that, even though he talked to them and checked the price, he didn’t send this check when he knew he was dying. This is America’s self proclaimed advocate for the elderly. They can pay that claim. The law doesn’t state they can’t, just that they don’t have to. There is a chance that the check is lost in the mail, about an equal chance that it was credited to the wrong policy or lost within the walls of AARP. I believe a true advocate for the elderly would step forward and give the benefit of the doubt to their long time client and pay the claim.
Bottom line. Name a second addressee on your life insurance. Put your payments on an automatic bank draft with overdraft protection. Don’t leave things to chance even if you’re young. I can tell you that my experience is that most companies would pay this claim, but bottom feeding senior advocates like AARP see this as a profit opportunity and maybe rightly so. They are, after all, advocates for the elderly, not for the dead or the families they leave behind. If you have any questions or have had a similar experience, call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.