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Why we don’t buy life insurance

By Jay MacDonald ·
Friday, April 27, 2012
Posted: 10 am ET

Why don't Americans buy life insurance? At least part of the answer is that we're not absolutely convinced that the money we tuck away all those years will actually pass to our heirs once we're gone.

According to the Life Insurance and Market Research Association, or LIMRA, 56 percent of U.S. households did not have an individual policy as of 2010, a 50-year high. Nearly a third of us (30 percent) lacked any coverage at all, even through an employer's group plan – and that number has grown 22 percent in six years.

Granted, life insurance isn't likely to compete with food, shelter or even homeowners and auto insurance on most people's priority lists these days. Even so, in a 2011 telephone survey by the accounting firm Deloitte, 1 in 4 respondents admitted they don't trust life insurance companies or life insurance agents.

"Either way, the industry has some serious trust issues to address with a significant percentage of consumers," Deloitte concluded.

Last week, the ongoing multistate, multiagency investigation into life insurers behaving badly surfaced in the news once again when Florida and several other states reached a $40 million settlement with MetLife over alleged improprieties in tracking down the beneficiaries of deceased policyholders. The settlement could result in more than $400 million in death benefits from industrial life policies sold between 1900 and 1964 being paid to the rightful beneficiaries or, failing that, to the appropriate state's unclaimed property fund.

"MetLife had apparently been using the Social Security Administration's Death Master File to check to see if a policyholder has died only in cases where such a death would be beneficial to the insurance company. For example, MetLife allegedly used this Master File to stop annuity payments to deceased clients, but did not use it to issue life insurance payments to beneficiaries of the insured," according to a Miami Herald report.

While the settlement allows MetLife to deny any wrongdoing or liability, it does require the insurer to reform its business practices and step up attempts to find beneficiaries within 120 days of a policyholder's demise. If no beneficiary is found within a year, MetLife agrees to pay the death benefit or annuity payment to the appropriate state.

The $40 million MetLife settlement will go entirely to cover legal costs, including those of the task force launched in early 2011 by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

MetLife joins John Hancock Life and Prudential, which previously reached similar settlements with the investigating jurisdictions.

And so it goes, another life insurance giant deftly flicks an unseemly speck from its immaculate lapel. We did no wrong. We don't owe anyone. Oh yeah, and of course we'll try to do better.

I can't imagine why consumers don't trust them.

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L. Davis
May 02, 2012 at 6:13 pm

You need to pull out your telephone book and look up the number for your State Corporation Commission. File a complaint about the insurer and have them investigated. Then, you should seek an attorney. If you cannot afford one, you should see out your local Legal Aid Society to see if they can help. Good luck.

Carolyn Clark
April 27, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Stonebridge Life Insurance Complaint

Reviewed by gtoe305
All Stonebridge Life Insurance Reviews
Bad Business Practices by Stonebridge Life Insurance Company - Accidental Death Policy
I want to let others know about bad business practices by Stonebridge Life Insurance Company.

They fool the elderly about responsive service, but when it comes to paying what is rightfully owed, they drag their feet and in my case do not pay accidental death benefits. I lost my husband almost a year ago as a result of complications from an accidental fall three months later. After months of reviews, expensive documents, mail and emotional stress, Stonebridge rejected my claim because they did not see a direct cause between his fall and his death.

Stonebridge did everything they could to delay and not pay what was clearly seen by others as owed to me. I am on a fixed income and what little I was to receive would have gone to pay for his burial and my own cancer medication.

Fortunately for me, I had a second policy with AAA Insurance and they did not see any issue and quickly paid me. I paid Stonebridge premiums for many years and all I ask is that they live up to their promise.

I recommend no one purchase policies from Stonebridge Life Insurance Company and instead look to AAA as a much better company to deal with.


Carolyn Clark
April 27, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Stonebridge Life Insurance Support Ticket - Plano, Texas

Insurance claim review

Created By: POBAB Last Reply: sagee
Priority Level: [Emergency] Status: [Open]
Created: 11 months ago Last Updated: 2 days ago
Department: N/A Replies: 0

Missing and poorly filed paperwork, paying insurance claims in the case of fraudulent signatures and change of beneficiary claims, having the witness to a change of beneficiary become the new beneficiary without forms being notarized or witnessed by any additional person, sending out papers stating 2 people were co-beneficiaries and then paying the entire claim to only one. Shall I continue because I can. The state's Attorney General will be hearing about all of these claims (along with paperwork to support accusations) so that hopefully Stonebridge Life Insurance Company, (and I do use the term life insurance loosely) are no longer allowed to basically do as they please to customers without any accountability.


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Carolyn Clark
April 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm

I lost my daughter 17 months ago to domestic violence homicide. My daughter had an accidental death policy with Stonebridge life insurance Co. for the amount of 30,000 dollars and pay 100,000 dollars if she died after the age of 24. Three months after turning 24 her boyfriend killed her, and her unborn child Noah Ezekiel, he stabbed my daughter 111 times. On December 9, 2010 I filed a claim with the insurance co. to pay the claim to my granddaughter the named beneficiary on my daughters policy. The insurance co. asked for guardian paperwork for the minor beneficiary named on the policy. I called the claims representative and told her I would provide her with the paperwork as soon as the court provided it too me, and that the guardianship hearing was set for May 5,2011. while I was waiting for the hearing Shyrl Clark, the claims representative wrote me three letters in regards to my oldest granddaughter the beneficiary guardianship paperwork. After the May 5,2010 hearing the judge gave me custody of both of my granddaughter's. The letters the claims rep. sent me starting date December 22,2010 thru May 24,2011 were in regards to whom my daughter named as her beneficiary. On June 30,2011 Shyrl Clark wrote me and said after further review of the claim it appears that Sagittarius has two minor children ,and that she would need guardianship papers from the court for both minor children. I called her, and said I don't care if my daughter has 10 kids she only put down my oldest granddaughter down as her beneficiary, and that she has no legal right to change or add a beneficiary after a persons death. I also told her my daughter's youngest daughter was not even born until a year later, and my daughter never called and added her name, something she would've had to do. Shyrl Clark, mailed me a copy of my daughters policy, and in my carefully considered opinion is a forgery. First of all, she mailed me a sample policy. when I asked her to mail me a copy of my daughters policy. The secretary, and company president names were cut outs and changed. My daughters signature was not even legible, let alone hers. The second policy she mailed she showed my daughter had 10,000 coverage for her children. One ask yourself how does one insure a child if an age, birthday or a name is never given, to the insurance company? When I asked to speak to her supervisor she refused to transfer my call. Shyrl Clark, said it was solely up to her to process and pay the claim. The claims rep. noted in my daughters file all calls from me were to be rerouted to her. Even when I was successful in reaching a so call supervisor they all said the same thing Shyrl Clark was right, and when I asked for their name and job title, they were no longer supervisors but phone reps. I asked Shyrl Clark to put the company's president in writing and she refused to do it.The other policy she mailed me had a totally different president's name signed and you can't even make out the name if you wanted too. Please help me in my quest to shut Stonebridge life insurance company down. for fraud, forgery, and unauthorized change in beneficiary.