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The reversal in direction and trend that started at the first of last year is continuing with West Coast Life being the most recent to announce that term insurance rates will be increasing.

I’m not overly concerned about the term rate increase but I do continue to have concerns about the West Coast conversion option. I wrote in October of last year about the fact that the only option they were offering for conversion was a non guaranteed product, not exactly what a loyal paying customer wants to hear.

I wrote an email to Greg Zabel and cc’d the company president expressing my feelings about their treatment of the customers that had put their faith in West Coast…

“Greg,

As I work with client on a potential conversion I am really struck with the blow that West Coast has taken in the area of being a 100 year old trusted life insurance company, part of the Protective Life group.

Conversion has always been that golden egg hidden in term policies, the savior of insurance and insurabilty for families. And, let’s be honest. It’s been a cash cow for companies like West Coast.

For West Coast to now offer only non guaranteed (no, I’m not impressed with a 10 year guarantee) options is a slap in the face to loyal customers. When the company continues to offer lifetime guarantees on new issues and relegates loyal customers to second hand products, well, it’s just wrong.

Whether it is a more expensive product is not the issue, although I fail to see how the company can break trust with current contract holders by offering better prices for new business. The issue is guarantees. I simply keep coming up short of a word other than immoral to describe how I feel the company is treating the clients that have made and kept West Coast alive and viable for so long.

I know we’ve never talked but the amount of WCL business on my books, I believe, puts me in a position to voice my outrage on behalf of my clients, and ask that someone respond, preferably someone as high up in the company as you can shove my concern. Thanks in advance.”

He called after returning from a company trip overseas and explained that because of reserve requirements put in place by reinsurance companies on guaranteed UL’s, they had to go to non guaranteed products…..but they were working on it.

I emailed him again today. “Greg,

I had emailed back in October concerning West Coast’s stance on bagging guarantees on conversion products. You called when you returned from your customer paid jaunt abroad and explained that it was the fault of the reinsurance companies, that their requirements for reserves were too high to offer guaranteed products.

You also assured me that it was something that West Coast was working on and hoped to be able to again offer guaranteed products in the not too distant future. In light of their impending term insurance rate increase I wanted to get an update on where the company is with offering guaranteed conversion options?

Since we spoke in October I have lost three more opportunities to convert policies because of the pathetic option West Coast seems to think is good enough for now.”

I got another “out of office” reply. Not sure where he is spending the customer’s premium dollars this time, but I will share his response when he returns.

Bottom line. I believe that life insurance companies have an obligation to offer a guaranteed permanent product to convert to. It is what has been held out as the standard for as long as there’s been a conversion option and anything less is putting people at risk of coming to a point where they still need insurance and not having it.

PS – Just received a response. Maybe something positive to report from West Coast.

“Ed,

We are working on a possible term solution that may also take care of the conversion problem. Can’t say much more. I won’t have much to report to you for another 30 days or so. Thanks for your email follow up.
Greg”