Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Is it really so hard to listen to what someone says?

I got life insurance when I was in my mid-20's. My father died without any and it left Mom in a tight spot. Not an impossible one, but a tight one. I never wanted to make that mistake.

Our neighbour across the street, Gary, worked for Mutual. He set me up with a policy that was perfect for me. It cost about $25 a month and gave $50,000 in coverage. Mutual ended up merging with Sun. I believe it is now Sun-Life.  The policy left my thoughts, much as the monthly payment left my account.

Gary ended up leaving Sun-Life and someone else took over my account. He came to me around the 5th year of the policy and talked about upgrading it. At the time I thought I knew a hell of a lot more than I actually did and I let him talk me into changing the policy. It was supposed to still allow for upgrades every so many years (5  I believe) to increase coverage. It was supposed to cost the same amount Being full of my own youth I jumped at it.

Up comes the time for upgrading and my agent dutifully showed up for a visit. It was a new agent new, SS. I decided to take advantage of the option and increase my benefit to $100,000. It would mean increasing my payment to $40 which I had no problem with. My disillusionment began after getting my paperwork from them in the mail.

SS had failed to properly explain some things. Like the fact it wasn't a simple Life Insurance policy. My payment would have to increase over time. He also failed to tell me they would take $600 out of my built up money to pay administrative fees for the upgrade. God knows it was so expensive to get someone to type a few keys and put it through.

My unhappiness with the policy continued but then I moved to South Korea. The policy was the furthest thing from my mind. A few times I received email from SS about this or that. A few times I emailed him questions but never received answers.

When I was home in  2005 he came to see me. He was pushing another upgrade to the policy. I wasn't interested. He told me that I would have to start increasing my payment or it would start eating into my "savings". That didn't sounds anything like my original policy. What savings? Instead of just increasing my coverage my policy had been changed to a whole life kind of policy. Nice but NOT what I wanted. In the end I agreed to up my payment and decide what I wanted to do later. It was easier to push it off and go back to Korea. So I gave him the voided check and authorized increasing the payment to $60.

I went back to Korea expecting to pay more and worry about everything when I came home. SS evidently never processed the paperwork because the extra money wasn't taken out. Which meant i could go back to not giving a shit about it until I moved back home.

From about 2008 on I got letters from Sun-Life a couple of times a year saying I had to increase my payment or it would start eating into my money. Since I wasn't actually in Canada I didn't get the letters. Having given SS my mailing address in South Korea evidently meant nothing. Nor did email requests asking about this.

I met with SS about 3-4 months after returning to Canada in 2010. He was once again pushing an increase to my coverage. Barring that he was pushing me to buy a couple of $50,000 policies to "build up my coverage in case of death". At that time I wasn't working and still didn't know what would be happening. Would I return to South Korea or not? He also pushed for an increase in my payment but gave vague answers when pushed about it.

I haven't heard from SS since 2010. Today I heard from his office. I don't know if it was another "dealer" or a secretary. Nor do I care. She called on his behalf to see how I was doing and set up an appointment. I told her I was glad to hear from them because, now that I have some time off, I was planning on cancelling my coverage. That seemed to surprise her.

So, I told her some of the whys and wherefores. The main one being, when my original policy was started it was supposed to be around $20. I agreed to $40. I agreed to $60 but only $40 is being taken. Yet I keep getting these letters, which have never been fully addressed by SS, saying I now need to pay around $105.

She started saying "But I see here you are only paying $40 a month."

I reply "Yes, but for the last few years I have been getting letters saying I need to increase my payment to $105."

"You are only paying $40 a month now." She parroted.

"Yes, but I keep getting these letters saying I should be paying $105."

"Only $40 is coming out a month."

At that point the snark came out. "Are you listening to what I am saying? I KNOW $40 is coming out. It was supposed to be $60 as of 2005. I keep getting letters saying it should be $105."

She was silent for a minute and then made the mistake of repeating herself. "You are only paying ...."

I cut her off and said "I am off the next few days and will be in to cancel my policy. I can get a policy for $40 a month elsewhere that will give me $100,000 in coverage. Without the BS."

"Oh, you should talk to SS. He will be back in the office in a two weeks."

"Really? I can't cancel my policy without going through him?"

"No. But you could talk to him."

"So I can pay for another month of coverage that I don't want? Right. Bye." And I hung up.

I was civil until she kept repeating herself about the monthly payment. It is kind of funny that she could "see" that they were only taking $40 a month out of my bank account but couldn't "see" that they mailed me a few times a year asking for a higher payment. If she hadn't been so ... hmmm is obtuse the appropriate word? ... I would have at least seen if they would give the same policy I have been looking at elsewhere. But she kept being an idiot. So I will go elsewhere.


  1. It's too bad that bureaucrats are like that. Doing more harm than help.

  2. Her stupidity and ability to parrot what she had already said astounded me.