Voya Insurance, aka Reliastar Insurance, aka ING Reliastar, long one of the most boring companies in the life insurance business, has finally stepped out and away from the crowd. They couldn’t do it with products or underwriting, but they took aim at what every customer really wants, good customer service, and went for it. When there are life insurance companies out there like Prudential that can have you talking to a live customer service representative within a minute, and even the worst companies were at 5 minutes, Reliastar has the industry stumped at how they can leap to the very top of the heap the way they have.

Voya’s approach? Wear you down with music and a recording every 3 minutes that tells you how much they appreciate your patience and are sorry for the delay. Calling on behalf of a customer a week ago I was on hold for 71 minutes and didn’t get all of my questions answered because I had an appointment to go to. This morning I spent 31 minutes on hold and when I did get a representative and asked them how my customer could file for a living benefit under the accelerated benefit rider, I was put back on hold. 5 minutes later he came back and said he couldn’t find anyone that could answer that question but that if I would leave my contact information they would send me the form and instructions. I asked how long that would take and he said, no kidding, 20-25 days. Once again I had to bail because of a dental appointment.

I called back this afternoon and after 29 minutes got a customer service rep who said I would have to talk to someone in the claims department and was put back on hold waiting for the Voya life insurance claims department to answer. So in three calls and still waiting I have racked up 131 minutes on hold, now 135. So really. Suppose I am not an agent with an infinite amount of patience for this kind of crap, but rather a bereaved widow trying to file a claim. The weight of the world is on her shoulders, and she’s sad and scared. At 142 minutes I got through to Brenda Velazquez in the claims department and explained the situation. She asked for my mailing address and I explained that it would be very helpful to receive the forms via fax or email so she took my email address and told me that I should receive the forms within 7-10 days.

I don’t believe I got inappropriate but I did state pretty emphatically that the way they were treating my client, through me, was absolutely horrendous. Most companies have a dedicated line for life insurance claims but with Voya it could take you upwards of 2.5 hours and several conversations with customer service representatives who are egregiously under trained and ignorant of the company process and completely lacking in empathy for what clients are going through. And then, so you don’t get your expectations up that the problem is being solved they tell you it will take 7 days to email forms to you. Top of the heap? The bad customer service heap!

Bottom line. We’ve all seen drawings of pyramid schemes where those at the top get filthy rich and those at the bottom just get filthy. That is sort of what Voya, aka, aka has going except that they are the entire pyramid and customers are smashed, suffocating and confused under the base of the “customer service” or lack there of. If you have any questions or have experienced this nonsense with Voya and want to add to this rant, call or email or just comment on line. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.