If one of your employees made a mistake by misinforming a paying customer and omitting important product information and that mistake cost the customer half a million dollars, I have to believe that you would be willing to try to make that right for the customer.
I have spent the last four years of my life trying to find anyone at Protective Life who has the same ethics and I cannot - and that extends all the way up to and includes CEO John Johns as well as several members of the Board of Directors.
We purchased a "key employee" life insurance policy from Protective Life Insurance Corporation in order to help take care of our family and to be able to continue our family business if anything were to happen to our family patriarch, my father-in-law.
After paying on this policy for 7 ½ years, as we were dealing with severe health emergencies our child was having, I paid the premium late. It was completely my fault.
Actually, every bill that came in the mail was paid late during this time. My child was dying and we could not get a diagnosis as to what was causing this, nor could it be controlled. (We were able to get her into the Mayo Clinic and finally get a diagnosis after two years of her suffering). I understand that is not an acceptable reason to pay bills late, and for that reason, our life insurance policy was cancelled - as was the insurance on all of our personal & company vehicles with State Farm, and commercial building insurance with Allied Insurance. In order to become insured again, we needed to apply for reinstatement with each of our three insurance companies.
Our State Farm agent spoke on the phone with my father-in-law to process their reinstatement application process and asked him "Have the vehicles you are applying for reinstatement of suffered any damage since they were last insured?" and my father-in-law answered honestly, "No, nothing has happened to decrease the value of these vehicles since they were insured with your company last month. We were just late paying the premium and that was due to family emergencies."
Our Allied Insurance agent spoke on the phone with my father-in-law to process their reinstatement application and asked him "Has the commercial building you are applying for reinstatement of suffered any damage since it was last insured?" and my father-in-law answered honestly, "No, nothing has happened to the building we are insuring since it was insured with your company last month. We were just late paying the premium and that was due to family emergencies."
The Protective Life Customer Service Consultant I spoke with told me that we could also apply for reinstatement for our life insurance policy. She then emailed me the reinstatement form for my father-in-law to complete. Her only instructions were that he should complete this form, sign and date it and fax it back.
We were told that if the underwriters approve reinstatement, we would be good to go.
On this reinstatement form, my father-in-law provided all contact information for his physician He also signed a full medical release for the underwriters to obtain all medical records needed in order to make any decision on the reinstatement of this policy. Since this was a "key employee" policy, both the customer service consultant and the underwriters would have been aware that not only was there a family who would need this policy in the event of a tragedy, but a business that depended on it as well.
After his wife passed away, my father-in-law re-titled all assets to make his last wishes perfectly clear. He had TOD titles on all real estate and vehicles, joint ownership on all bank and brokerage accounts, beneficiaries recorded on his annuities and one beneficiary of his Protective Life insurance policy. This was done so that no one could contest a Will and to make disbursing his estate very simple.
At that time, had Protective Life Insurance Company rejected the reinstatement application, my father-in-law had several options available to him. He could have sold the profitable business and he could have stayed on as a consultant, could have sold the commercial building and paid rent to the new owner for his business, could have sold his home, or he could have restructured the title of other assets to make available the amount he and his wife designated as appropriate for their son to inherit. Several different options were available for him to restructure his assets – but only while he was alive.
However, none of that was necessary, since reinstatement was approved as confirmed by the letter we received. And, per the customer service consultant, we were now "good to go".
Unfortunately, 4 months later we lost our family patriarch.
When the representatives from State Farm and then Allied Insurance went over their insurance reinstatement form with my father-in-law, their questions were asked has the item you are insuring received any damage since it was last insured.
With that mindset, our loved one answered his health questions – "No, nothing has changed with the item of value we are insuring (himself) since we were last insured, we were just late with a premium payment and that was due to family emergencies."
The representative never once talked to our loved one during this reinstatement process - She did not clarify the form to him, she did not complete the form with him (like our other two insurance agents had), she did not review the information on the form with him when it came back to her. Even when he left off his height and weight, she contacted me and asked me to tell him instead of contacting him directly.
If she had done any of these things, the mistake he made in completing the reinstatement form - health questions were asked have you ever – not since you were last insured - would have been found and corrected. If at any point during the reinstatement it would have been disclosed that Protective Life chooses to restart the two year deniability period again, my father-in-law would have had the opportunity to restructure assets to cover his son’s inheritance for that time period.
But none of these things were done and only as we are dealing with the death of our loved one, and still trying to get a diagnosis for our child did anyone from Protective Life disclose that they chose to start the two year deniability period again upon reinstatement. This is not an industry standard, but even if it was, we would have no way of knowing that unless we were told.
There is absolutely no mention of this in any of the communications we received during the reinstatement period. We did not realize it was our responsibility to verify what the Protective Life representative had told us – we do not do business as consumers or business owners with companies that do not stand behind what the representatives say.
Therefore, we did not call another customer service consultant to verify the reinstatement process as explained to us, we did not have our corporate attorney review the reinstatement form before submitting it, nor did we ask him to review the original policy.
This was a miscommunication between an elderly gentleman completing his first and only life insurance policy reinstatement the same as he had just done with two other insurance companies and their policy reinstatement and an employee of Protective Life who earns their salary working in the reinstatement area.
The Protective Life Code of Business Conduct states:
Throughout our Company's history, our mission has remained boldly alive in our name. We are Protective. We are committed to tearing down the barriers that prevent so many people from enjoying the peace of mind and satisfaction that come from taking care of their future financial needs and the needs of those who depend on them. This is our purpose. This will be our legacy.
Four core values guide us in all that we do: Do the Right Thing, Serve People, Build Trust, and Simplify Everything. We serve with integrity and honesty, treating each of our customers the way we would like to be treated.
Each of us is responsible for the integrity of the Company, and each of us must be willing to raise ethical concerns. People in management positions have a special responsibility to demonstrate high ethical standards and to create an environment that requires ethical behavior."
In direct contrast to stated code of business conduct, we have enjoyed nothing even remotely close to peace of mind from purchasing this life insurance policy, our financial future has been ruined – even while working seven days a week at our business, we are still not able to pay our bills – our home has been placed in foreclosure, our utilities have been turned off multiple times due to non payment, our children’s future education has been taken stolen as they cannot take out loans and we certainly cannot co-sign for them as our credit is now ruined. Had anyone we came in contact with during the reinstatement process that was told this life insurance policy was my husband’s entire inheritance done the "right thing" and fully explained the reinstatement procedure – ESPECIALLY including the two year deniability period starting over, none of this would have happened. Has this reinstatement process been simplified, as in the representative processing the reinstatement application actually spoken even one time to the individual completing the form - none of these things would have happened.
Oh, and as for "treating each of our customers the way we would like to be treated" – saved the best for last with this one –we have been told this it is entirely the fault of our deceased loved one that the form was completed incorrectly and several representatives from Protective Life Insurance Corporation – including their legal counsel have accused our loved one of trying to commit fraud.
We did everything we were instructed to do in order to reinstate this policy. The blame for this miscommunication error should not be placed solely on the customer.
It has been a long four years. We as a family are nearly bankrupt and our business is not far behind. This insurance policy was our safety net for when we lost 50% of our family business. It never occurred to us that we needed a backup in case Protective Life decided not to honor the reinstatement that was approved on this policy.
All I have received in response to my efforts to get someone at Protective Life to see how this mistake happened is dozens of letters telling us how they are not legally responsible to pay this policy.
There is not one person associated with Protective Life Insurance Corporation - up to and including CEO John Johns - who feels any sense of responsibility that due to the careless way the reinstatement of a half a million dollar "key employee" life insurance policy was handled that a family of good decent people is losing everything. We would be better off financially if we had never even purchased life insurance in the first place.
If we had never even bought "key employee" life insurance in the first place, my husband would have received his inheritance from other assets that were most certainly available from his parents’ estate. Instead those assets were disbursed according to his parents’ wishes because we have written communication from Protective Life Insurance Corporation stating that this insurance policy was reinstated.
Protective Life stockholders did not suffer because my premium payment was late. My family will suffer – for generations, if we do not receive some sort of resolution to this with Protective Life.
Product or Service Mentioned: Protective Life Corporation Life Insurance.