I’ve decided, for the sake of us elderly folks and all of us who are related to elderly folks and anyone who gives a damn about treating people right, to get off the fence and say what I really think about AARP and their New York Life insurance plan. For those who have followed this forum for any length of time you know there is no love loss, but this last week makes me sure that AARP is using it’s hard bought trust with the elderly to rip them off and steal from them.
I have recently helped three different families who had life insurance claims denied by New York Life reverse those decisions and the telling thing about these stories is how easily those decision were reversed. It didn’t take lawyers or threats or long periods of time. All it took was a basic understanding of life insurance claims. When I consider that I might reach some tiny fraction of 1% of the claims that have been recently denied by AARP/NYL, it suddenly appears entirely likely that they are engaging in intentional negligence in the handling of life insurance claims. From those I’ve helped, other agents, claims handlers from other companies and groups I’ve spoken to, the consensus seems to be there is a pattern of AARP declining claims without good reason and sticking to it unless their bluff is called.
This is where unconscionable comes to my mind. Unless you are in the insurance business or an attorney, when a well known, reputable life insurance company calls and tells you that your claim has been denied 1. because of non payment of premium, or 2. because the policy had lapsed and been reinstated starting a new 2 year contestable period or 3. because the insured died from something that was not admitted to on the application, case closed. It never even occurs to people that one of the biggest, if not the biggest life insurance company in the country, New York Life, in conjunction with the most recognizable brand for advocacy of the elderly, AARP, would be lying. It would never occur to the average family that the marching orders for an insurance program like AARPs would have claims marching orders to deny all claims that fall within certain parameters without even doing any due diligence. They have the beneficiaries between a rock and a hard place because they don’t know the law and because it is just beyond belief that this company and this organization would lie to keep from paying out $10,000, $15,000 or $50,000.
Let me touch a little more on the one of the examples above. AARP turned down a claim before it was even filed claiming the policy had lapsed due to non payment of premium. The deceased had told the beneficiary before he died about the policy and the fact that he had just paid it. He recounted a conversation with AARP making sure he was sending the right amount because the premium has just recently increased. The premium was due on November 8 and he sent it the last day of October. It was reflected in his check register and also in the fact that he had told his son he had paid it. On November 9 the premium hadn’t been received yet and the policy went into a grace period. The insured went into hospice a short while later with no knowledge that AARP hadn’t received the check because he didn’t receive a late notice. He died on December 11, two days after the grace period ended. His son called AARP and was told they would send a claim packet. Instead they sent him a decline letter stating that his father didn’t have insurance in force at the time of his death.
The son called me and asked me what I thought, if AARP was right in turning down the claim because no payment had been received. At first I thought AARP might have this one right but as the story unfolded I started having my doubts. His father had the AARP policy for 8 years and had never been late on a payment. His father had told him he made the payment early. His father’s check register indicated he had sent a check. On the other end AARP said they never got the check. They couldn’t prove that, other than it was never cashed or credited to his policy. I wrote a blog post about this case asserting that there in fact was insurance in force and there was more evidence that the insured had sent a check than that AARP had not received it.I stated a simple fact of the life insurance industry, that under these circumstances most companies would simply pay the $15,000 claim. It seemed clear that the insured paid the premium and no had knowledge or power to do anything about the fact that it was either lost in the mail or lost in AARP.
Within about 4 hours of my writing that post I got a call from New York Life, a woman named Maria Gaver in the compliance department wanting me to contact the beneficiary and have him call her. I left him a message and the next day got a call from him saying that AARP had called and said they were paying the claim in full. Bluff and pay if you get caught! I left a message for Maria Gaver to call me to discuss how extensive this problem appeared to be and she has not returned my call yet.
Bottom line. In the next few posts I am going to review the other two cases that AARP paid when their bluff was called and. well, ask AARP out of obligation for the position they relish so much, to allow an audit of the last 10 years unpaid life insurance claims to make sure they were legitimate denials. If you have questions or have some experience with this problem and want to add your voice to my outrage, call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.