As West Coast Life dips slowly below the sunset, absorbed by their sister company Protective Life, I can only say, well, I actually can’t say it. Never has a company deserved to come to an end more than West Coast Life.
Please don’t think these words have anything to do with the fact that they fired me, although to say that was thin skinned of them is a huge understatement. To jerk my appointment over the fact that I openly, very openly….and repeatedly told whoever would listen that they didn’t care about their long time, loyal customers was, or for that matter any of their future customers, was probably deserved. After all, why have a dialogue about something you have no intention of fixing? Why listen to one of their top producers, no, several of their top producers about other means to an appropriate end?
I can’t even begin to tell you what a shock it was to find out that West Coast Life had changed their conversion options without a memo to their agents, their general agents, or, and this really ticks me off, their customers who were faithfully paying their premiums and and making them $bazillions.
Let me share with you what I’ve called the gold nugget buried in a term policy. For as long as there has been term insurance there has been a conversion option that allows the insured to convert all or part of the policy to PERMANENT life insurance at any time during the conversion period. That was the selling point that home offices drilled into agents. “Even if their health goes downhill, they can always convert to a permanent product at the same rate class they were originally approved at”. Even if a person was unable to apply for and get new life insurance, they could still convert to a permanent product and know that they would have insurance at a level premium until they died.
Somewhere along the line the conversion language, because of all the new permanent universal life and whole life products available, was changed to say that the policy was convertible to “whatever product the company offered for conversion at the time”. We were still all assured that this still meant permanent even though it no longer said so in the policy.
Then came some rough financial times and West Coast Life became the poster child for screwing customers. They made their only product available for conversion a universal life (sounds permanent) with a 10 year guarantee. It cost more than it would for a person to buy a new lifetime guarantee UL, but that’s a new healthy person. West Coast still wanted that money. What they didn’t want was sick people converting their policies long enough to be able leave the death benefit to their beneficiaries.
At first some of us West Coast Life lovers thought this must be some kind of mistake. Surely this is something that would be explained to all of their in force term life insurance policy owners. That didn’t happen. And surely they would let agents know that this terrible change in direction was coming so that we could work with clients to convert before the new rule took hold. That didn’t happen either. And, surely, for God’s sake, even though the product was only guaranteed for 10 years you could add more premium and make the guarantee go longer. Nope! Oh, by the way, after they canned me they did open up conversion to the old permanent policy for a short period. A very short period and they didn’t exactly make it known to customers or agents.
Let me share just one story that is not a rare case at all. I had a client who was paying $800 a year for $500,000 of 20 year term. Being over age 50 life insurance needs had changed a bit. Six years into the policy she wanted to convert half of that to a permanent product for retirement purposes. She had 14 years left on her 14 year West Coast Life term policy and the only thing she could convert to which would have cost $2200 a year was a policy with a 10 year guarantee. Now there’s a customer friendly pie in the face.
Well, West Coast Life is no more or at least won’t be shortly. Protective will take over all of their policies, but Protective isn’t going to change anything. They like the idea of increasing profits through cutting down on benefits paid also.
Bottom line. This was a terrible thing for a company to do to people that put their trust and their money in them for over a hundred years. If you have a West Coast Life policy and have questions or would like to consider replacing with a nicer company, call or email me directly.