New York State
James J. Wrynn Superintendent of Insurance 25 Beaver Street New York, N.Y. 10004
|ISSUED 12/21/2010||FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
It’s always important to keep your mailing address updated, especially when it comes to insurance. That’s one lesson that was driven home when a New York City man almost lost his life insurance policy after a series of mix-ups which started because he wasn’t getting his mail.
“Consumers always need to be careful to let their insurance company know when their address changes. Keeping contact information up-to-date, as well as trying to communicate in writing can go a long way in helping avoid problems,” Insurance Superintendent James Wrynn said.
The issue arose recently in the case of a New Yorker who prides himself on always paying his bills on time.
After moving to a new apartment, the policyholder realized that he hadn’t received his last life insurance bill. Afraid of seeing his coverage lapse, he immediately phoned his insurance company. “They accepted my credit card on the phone and I was told I was now reinstated,” he said.
Soon afterward, however, he received a notice in the mail that his policy had been cancelled. The credit card charge had not been applied to his account. He again called his insurer and said he was told the card hadn’t been accepted “because someone there made an error of some sort.”
The man then contacted the New York State Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau. He asked for help in getting his policy reinstated after what appears to have been a series of misdirected mailings and misunderstandings about how a credit card could be used to pay a premium.
The insurer eventually agreed to offer to reinstate the life insurance policy after the Insurance Department pointed out that the insurer hadn’t properly advised the policyholder about how he could use a credit card to make the payment.
“Consumers should always try to communicate in writing to avoid misunderstandings and they should always make a good effort to follow-up to make sure issues are handled properly,” Wrynn said.
To avoid problems, Wrynn said consumers should:
· Always keep insurers advised of all changes affecting policies including address changes, as well as other things, such as changes in marital status.
· Review bank statements or records of other payment forms to ensure an insurer has received premium payments.
· Consider using an automatic checking or debit account if your insurer accepts payment in this manner. While automatic payments may result in higher fees, it could help ensure premium payments stay current.
· Make sure you reference your policy number on all communications to insurers.
Consumers should contact their insurance company, agent or broker to discuss specific insurance questions. They should also feel free to contact the Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday toll-free at 800-342-3736 if they need further help. Additional information is available on the Department’s website, www.ins.state.ny.us.