For all of you out there who long since lost track of your life insurance agent and are filing a claim on your own, let me start by expressing my sincere condolences. That is exactly how the process will start when you call the company to start the process and you will soon find out that, in the absence of an agent, the company’s compassion does not in any way compel them to instant and ongoing action. I am helping a widow process the claims from three different policies her husband had and we have one paid and still two to go after two weeks.

Life insurance companies have what they like to call their “standard practice or procedure” in handling claims. If you call them and let them know there has been a death and you want to file a claim they will take the information and then investigate whether the claim is on a valid, in force policy. Because of the heavy volume of claims?? they tell you that they will mail out a claim packet within 10 working days. You and I know that it should only take about 30 seconds to confirm a valid policy, but they don’t want to feel rushed. And is time of any kind essence when, after a two week period they drop the paperwork in the mail, the US Postal Service mail? Not even priority. And if you call after a week and tell them it hasn’t arrived they always say that you should allow at least 10 working days for the packet to arrive. Giving life insurance companies the benefit of the doubt possibly they don’t want to upset grieving widows by injecting a sense of urgency in the matter.

So, claims are filed and in the case of my client’s wife she sent all of them overnight to the companies. I called to confirm they were all received and when I found out all had arrived I asked how long it would take to process to payment and was told that their “standard procedure” call for 7-10 business days to log the claim in and then another 10 business days to process the claim and approve it and then another 7-10 business days before they MAIL the life insurance death benefit proceeds. When they mail the proceeds they do so in a first class non priority envelope without the ability to track it. These companies will literally send out checks for hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in an envelope that can’t be tracked. HELLO? If it doesn’t arrive within 10 business days they will cancel the check and mail another one.

With one of the companies my client’s wife had not marked a question yes or no on a form. They mailed the form back to her. I happened to call the next day to check status and they explained they had mailed the form back. I asked for it to be emailed to me and I emailed it to her and it came back to them overnight the next day. This process that could, left running at the “standard procedure” speed, take two months or more after filing the claim, has been shortened by my intervention as the agent, speaking to supervisors when the standard answers didn’t fit reality. 10 days to mail out claim forms were received the next day via email. Inputting and processing the claim, a potential month long ordeal took Genworth 2 days, Lincoln 3 days and Reliastar 5 days, after speaking with respective supervisors.

Bottom line. When you buy life insurance, make sure you’re buying insurance from someone who at least claims they will be there for you in the long run. Ask them about their customer service because you need to know right up front that the life insurance company doesn’t see it as important. Ask them about their succession plan. That’s fair game to know what you need to do if the agent’s wife collects life insurance before yours. If you have questions please call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.