Cancelling an old policy advice

2016-01-21 06:00

NEW Year is a good time to reassess insurance policy costs and to shop around for a better deal but when cancelling old policies it’s important to ensure that you give the instruction directly to the insurer concerned.

Brenda Muller turned to me in desperation after she repeatedly tried to cancel several Chartis Life, now rebranded to American International Group (AIG) insurance policies and battled for two years before realising that the company had not received her initial instruction.

She said she had also not been advised of the company’s rebranding, which might have created some confusion.

Fortunately AIG was able to get to the bottom of the matter and to turn the mishap — on both sides — around so that Muller walked away happy to recommend the company.

Muller complained to me that she had tried since April 2013
to cancel her insurance policies with Chartis Insurance Company, the premiums of which were
being debited from her bank

Muller said she had handed a letter to her bank to cancel the debit orders, advised the bank via its website and e-mailed the insurer to cancel the policies.

But what she did not realise was that she had initially erroneously e-mailed a company with a similar name, Charter Life Insurance Company, although in June 2014 she had correctly e-mailed AIG’s customer complaints department asking for the policy to be cancelled but received no response.

Wendy van den Heever, a spokesperson for AIG, said the first communication the company had received from Muller was the e-mail in June 2014.

“AIG was at no stage aware of Mrs Muller’s intention to cancel her policies and did not receive any direct instruction from her to cancel her policies in 2013,” she said.

She added that Muller’s bank could not have been expected to communicate a cancellation
instruction as there was no
affiliation between the companies.

“On receiving the request, the customer complaints department erroneously forwarded the request to an inactive e-mail queue.

“As a result of this oversight, the instruction was never received nor processed by the AIG administration team and Mrs Muller’s policies were not cancelled for which we apologise,” she said.

She added that the insurer’s correct e-mail address for customer queries appeared on the policy schedules.

But what AIG should be commended for is the way in which it transparently handled the complaint by admitting it had not acted on the instruction and by immediately cancelling her policy and issuing a refund of R2 184,30 for premiums dated back to June 2014.

And AIG went a step further to give her the benefit of the doubt when she produced evidence of her earlier attempts to cancel with the wrong company.

“We do appreciate that it was Mrs Muller’s original intention to cancel her cover from 24 April, 2013 and we have agreed to
further refund Mrs Muller R1 863,60 being the premium collected between 24 April 2013 and 19 June 2014,” she said.

Muller said she was surprised and grateful that the company had accepted her records and commended it for its “excellent service and kindness”.

“I highly recommend AIG to others as they really went out of their way with phone calls and e-mails to assist me,” Muller said.

Saving Christmas dinner

On a similar note of a complaint that was happily resolved, Wayne Seger had complained to me on December 22 about a Whirlpool stove he had fitted as part of a kitchen revamp in August but which packed up a week before Christmas.

He said Whirlpool had sent an electrician who had informed him that he could only get spares to fix the stove in the new year.

“Since then I’ve been trying to speak to a call centre manager or service manager of some sort but no one calls me back,” he said at the time.

“They are completely unsympathetic towards the fact that it is Christmas and I have about R1 000 worth of meat that I am to prepare for a Christmas dinner with my family.

“Never mind the fact that the oven is only about two to three months old. I am absolutely desperate,” he said.

I advised Whirlpool field service manager Alwin Rensburg that Seger had a right in terms of the Consumer Protection Act to choose between a repair, a replacement and a refund.

Rensburg said he empathised with the consumer and promised to replace the appliance with an upgrade to the latest model

“Whirlpool did eventually come out and replaced the oven before Christmas, and I was able to cook for Christmas Eve as planned,”
Seger said.

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