The Bamboozled column in the New Jersey Star-Ledger frequently provides actual relief and restitution for consumers who are out of luck and the end of the road dealing with an insurance company, retailer, bank, or other corporation, stepping in to set matters straight and correct an injustice. It’s a valuable feature of the paper that one does not see much anymore in dailies across the county.
A recent column tells of the travails of a retired couple whose life insurance coverage lapsed even though they made the premium payment, and who were afterward caught up in the web of customer service representatives and bureaucratic dead-ends that we have all experienced when calling company 1-800 numbers.
Bamboozled was able, as it often does, to right this particular wrong.
What resonated with me after reading the column, however, was how many of my clients have suffered from lapsed life insurance policies because of a single missed payment or through no fault of their own, but rather due to sloppy practices by the insurer in sending and receiving mail.
With many bills we receive, it is no big deal if a payment is made late or even if a payment is missed. You can make up the deficit the next month. Even with credit cards and the exorbitant fees and penalties charged, you can still emerge from an unpaid bill (but with lesson learned). But it’s a whole different matter with life insurance payments, because the insurer will not hesitate to cancel your coverage if the policy terms are not strictly complied with, no matter how long you have had the policy.
While I have been successful in winning cases for clients in this type of situation, it is often not an easy feat to accomplish. Many of the laws on the books favor insurance companies and not consumers. The best advice is to keep that insurance bill in mind and make sure you take action instead of letting the insurance company do so first.