TAG | insurance churning
The following are some of the deceptive practices involving insurance sales:
*The definition of “twisting” insurance is when the insurance agent, for the purposes of generating his or her commission, persuades the client to lapse, surrender, or otherwise terminate an insurance product and replace it with another product that provides little or no economic benefit to the client. Often, the accumulated cash value of an older policy is used to mask the true cost of the new policy, allowing the agent to provide a favorable (but misleading) comparison.
*”Churning,” sometimes referred to also as twisting in the insurance industry, is an attempt by an unscrupulous agent from an insurance company to cancel your existing policy and replace it with a new one, drawing down your cash value (called “juice” in industry jargon) to pay for it. This activity generates additional commission for the agent and may result in your having to pay more down the line.
*”Vanishing premiums” refers to the inflated claims about the length of time a policyholder will need to pay premiums, such as “you only have to pay premiums for seven years, and then the policy will pay for itself.” Unfortunately, many consumers who were sold vanishing premium policies in the 1980s and 1990s later found they needed to pay more premium dollars to keep their policies from lapsing.
Before it was made illegal, some insurance agents used a sales pitch for universal life insurance that suggested the premiums could vanish.
The pitch went like this:
You start out by putting a large, lump sum into the universal life policy. The policy has the potential for making money, much like an investment (but it is illegal for an agent to sell life insurance by calling it an investment). The company may pay interest, if the company has a good year. If the company does have a good year, the percentage of interest could be very high. If you left the interest and dividends in your policy to build up with your cash value after a few years, you could have enough cash value in the policy to pay the premiums.
The “vanishing premiums” scenario depended on three big “IFs:”
Only if the company has very good years. Only if the company pays high dividends. Only if you do not withdraw cash value.
*The term “sliding” means an agent slips you extra coverage you didn’t ask for — but do pay for. This can easily add $100, $200 or more to your premium. The agent says it’s part of a “package,” or won’t mention the coverage at all. The motor club memberships, accidental death coverages and guaranteed renewable life insurance are three policies that agents sometimes sell to policyholders without their knowlege.
The primary motive in these scenerios is financial profit. These practices not only are misleading and unethical, but can be illegal.
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