Part 3: Policy Owner Bill of Rights – Online Access [SERIES]

A woman looking at a laptop

In our previous posts in the series, Part 1: The Urgent Need for a Life Insurance Policy Owner Bill of Rights and Part 2: Policy Owner Bill of Rights – Ensuring Equal Rights for Life Insurance Policy Owners we proposed that life insurance policy owners should have certain rights and that these rights should apply to all policy owners equally — regardless of what type of policy owner they are. Trusts, business entities, groups and individuals should, as policy owners, be afforded the same treatment by insurers regardless of the category into which they fall. This includes entities that own policies as the result of legitimate, legal transfers through regulated secondary market life settlement transactions, and tertiary market transactions between business entities. The same goes for individuals who transfer policies to trusts and other vehicles for tax and other financial planning reasons.

It should not be the case that because a life insurance policy (which is a form of property under well-established and long-standing legal precedent) was transferred to another party, regardless of its type, insurance companies can change the access, service levels and requirements to obtain basic services related to a policy based on what kind of policy owner is requesting services. Denying online access to policy information platforms, requiring additional forms previously provided, rerouting calls to service units with extended hold times, and claiming that records take weeks to research should not be acceptable conduct on the part of carriers, simply because the insurer deems the policy owner to be of a type they do not like.

Related: Ensuring Equal Rights for Life Insurance Policy Owners

AI and the Digital Information Age

With all the talk about AI, the digital information age, cloud-based platforms, and technology generally, it should not be the case that the life insurance industry needs “7 to 10 business days” or “14 to 21 business days,” or longer to produce a premium payment history or a record of the owners and beneficiaries of a policy over time. This information is entered into carrier systems all the time and should be easily accessible to customer service personnel at every life insurance company operating in today’s world. If I can access, view, and change information concerning my automobile and homeowner’s policies online at any time, I should be able to do the same with my life insurance policies and so should every policy owner, regardless of type.

In addition, the information should be correct. Sadly, it is not uncommon to find that changes made to a policy were never properly recorded in carrier systems. Even when the policy owner has a written record (i.e., written confirmation from the carrier) of the change and its result, carriers often require that forms and supplemental information be resubmitted, subject to additional, longer processing times, and even then, confirmation remains suspect because if they didn’t get it right the first time, who’s to say they got it right this time? One would think that a process that takes 1 to 3 weeks would include more than enough quality control measures to get it right the first time.

The Right to Online Access

The bottom line is that there is no valid reason why life insurance policy owners should not be able to access, view, and if necessary correct or change information concerning their life insurance through secure online platforms. Insurance companies seeking to reduce costs and improve service should recognize that all policy owners deserve at least the same degree of access, information, and control over their life insurance as they have over their property and casualty policies, their bank accounts, credit cards, utility services, and many other financial services. So this week’s Policy Owner Right is: All policy owners have the right to correct, complete, reliable information about their policy via an online portal or platform. To learn more, check out the next post in our series, Part 4: Policy Owner Bill of Rights – The Right to Reliable Information. To learn more about the rights of policy owners, please contact ISC Services.

Proposed Rights For All Life Insurance Policy Owners

  1. All policy owners have the right to be treated as valued customers without regard to their type or purpose as a policy owner. 
  2. All policy owners have the right to expect their life insurance company to maintain complete, accurate and accessible information pertaining to a policy via an online platform.