Insurance Bait and Switch
OLD GREENWICH, CONNECTICUT -- As a consumer from your state, I felt it was my responsibility to bring to your attention the following incident.
I'm not sure if you can help me but hopefully you can or at least point me in the right direction. I live in Connecticut but I work in New York City.
I bought term life insurance with Lincoln Benefit Life Insurance(through Allstate in CT) approximately 4 years ago which was to be converted to a whole life policy at the end of a year. The reason for the switch from term to whole was because that I wasn't going to get any insurance due to the cost (I didn't want to spend $1200 for the term) but my agent said if I switched to a whole life policy after a year the $1200 I paid with the term would be put toward my whole life policy which costs $5000 (per year). She explained that with the whole life I would be able to keep all of my money and it would grow at a rate of bet. 4-5% per year. I have since paid a total of $15000 and only found out recently when I called to question 'costs' and 'expenses' on my policy (totaling $1600 per year) that I actually don't have a whole life policy but a 'flexible adjustable' policy and that I have to stay in this policy for 20 years or forfeit $14400. As a result, I in reality have nothing in my account that I can call my own. They tell me I'm not even entitled to borrow against any of this money and if I pull out I will actually owe them money since my account is down to $12000 due to all of the fees. My agent failed to tell me any of this. Lincoln Benefit did an investigation and found the agent to be 100% correct in her dealings with me so I appear to be stuck.
I received by fax yesterday from Lincoln Benefit and I had a chance to review a letter Brenda Schneider (my sales agent) sent to Todd Black (the investigator regarding my complaint) regarding my accusation that Ms. Schneider sold me a different life insurance policy than the one she told me I was buying. Ms. Schneider says in her letter dated February 16th to Mr. Black that she 'explained a portion of the premium goes to the cost of insurance and a portion to cash value or savings' - that is a flat out lie. She goes on to say that she pointed 'out in the early years of the policy the cost of running the policy is higher thus there is very little cash in the savings portion of the policy' - another flat out lie. She sold me a 'whole life' policy - that was the term she used. I wasn't even going to join up for the term insurance because I didn't want to spend $1200. She then explained if I switched to a 'whole life' policy I could KEEP EVERYTHING and the money would only grow. She NEVER told me there is a $14,400 fee if I leave the policy before 20 years. I could not keep up these payments for 20 years to begin with - my bonuses are not guaranteed and I could lose my job at any time. I would never risk having signed up for something with a 20 year commitment and I was too cheap to join the term for even one year. There is NO WAY she explained any of this to me. She faxed over pages she had me sign (on a rush basis) that apparently had charts showing exactly what I should have at each year. I showed these pages to two lawyers at my firm (I work as a legal secretary) and both of them said to me that they couldn't even make out exactly what they were showing - How was I supposed to be able to understand them? I depended on everything Ms. Schneider said (and didn't say to me). This is not the policy she explained to me. I'm now out $15000 which was all I had in case something happened to me and my family (I am the sole supporter) and I needed money fast - I'm out everything and this is killing me. Ms. Schneider is flat out lying when she says she told me about the 'costs' and 'expenses' which apparently total almost $1600 a year. I was too cheap to pay $1200 - why would I ever agree to $1600? None of this makes sense and I work as a secretary working overtime with no guaranteed extra income - I can't afford the risk of being able to afford this policy for 20 years! I desperately need help. Anything you can do for me would be greatly appreciated.
As a resolution, I would like the following:
I want to have the policy either switched to term so I can simply get out of it or close it immediately and give me my money back and stop them from doing this to others.
Please contact me if you need more details regarding this incident.