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Oh I wish! While there are still some bastions of sanity in the life insurance industry it seems like they have become few and remote. While I like my vacation islands in that category I can tell you that few and remote is not the way client friendly, good customer service should be. While there doesn’t seem to have been much impact on companies willingness to pay life insurance claims in a timely fashion (except during the contestability period), the best and brightest brains in life insurance companies seem to have been tasked with creating products with the least possible chance of paying a death claim. I know that’s a confusing sentence and the reality is that it is a confusing stance for a company to take. If only it wasn’t the truth.

Even stranger are the companies that just don’t seem to want any more business. If I were in a lighter mood about this I would just speak in general, but American General Life is a stand up, stand out, ahead of the pack company in this respect. It used to be that companies strove to be fair, honest and fast. While I am still working on my opinion about American General’s honesty, I will tell you that they have set new records for the industry in slow service. Here’s normal. An application is pending or in underwriting and the life insurance company emails a question to me concerning the client. I always call the client right away and very often I answer the question the same day and the company moves on to the next thing on their list. American General has declared a 10 day turnaround for anything that has to do with the application.

So, say they are working on an application and email me to confirm the life insurance client’s income. I email the answer back the same day and it takes them 10 days to input that answer into their system and move on to the next step in the process. Yes, they have computers. So from the start it goes like this. I send them a life insurance application and it takes 10 days for them to acknowledge that they have received it. If, for whatever reason they didn’t get it or lost it I don’t know that for 10 days. If they don’t have it I have to resend it (all electronically) and it will take them another 10 days to open a file. If, in the interim they got the exam and labs, it would have been put on the shelf because they didn’t have a file open to attach it to.

This gets seriously distorted and nonsensical when they receive an application with a 10 day turnaround to create a file. Two days later they receive the exam, but they don’t do anything with it until the file is opened. Even though they have had the exam for 8 days, it now takes an additional 10 days for them to input the exam. Then they order the labs. They get the labs in 3-4 days and it takes them another 10 days to input the labs. Then the file goes for initial review, another 10 days. And they will not deviate or make exceptions essentially nullifying any attempt at timeliness on the client’s part and good customer service on the agent’s part.

Bottom line. When you’re big enough I guess you can treat customers that way, but for the sake of the industry and the people who depend on us, I would like to see all life insurance companies knock off the BS and get back to some good old fashioned customer service. If you have any questions, call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.