Some years ago Reliastar, a perennial powerhouse in the term insurance business, seemed to fall to pieces. They quit communicating with agents and their underwriting started to take so long that agents that cared actually started to be concerned about the length of their underwriting process in respect to the fact that people do occasionally die unexpectedly.

At that point we made the choice to quit recommending them to customers. It simply seemed prudent to take customers to companies with comparable rates that we could count on to do an expedient job of underwriting and issuing policies.

Then we got calls from them saying they had addressed the issues and they were back and ready to compete. At first I used them very cautiously, but when it seemed they had indeed changed, we added them back into the portfolio and started recommending them more freely. For about a year and a half that worked very well. Because of some of their unique underwriting on family history and private pilots, it was good to have them available.

But they seem to have fallen off the precipice again. Underwriting has slowed to a snail’s pace and they have all but cut off communications between underwriting and agents. It’s gone on long enough that it doesn’t appear to be an anomaly and is suspiciously in the same time frame as their lay off of 1000 or so employees. They are officially suspended from our use again unless their is just an overwhelming reason to use them.

Bottom line. Other companies have gone through these phases as well, but I can’t remember any that have been as challenged in the service area as much as ING over the past 5-6 years.