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Farmers Insurance Life Insurance

Posted 4/21/2009
I am writing this post to share my experience with Farmers and to, hopefully, inform future consumers.
In November of last year, my stepfather was tragically killed in an accident. He was 49 years old. At the time of his death, he had a term life insurance policy with Farmers. After almost four months to the day of my stepdad's death, my mother received the full amount of the policy, plus the interest accrued. That's the good news. The bad? Dealing with Farmers for the past four months of our lives....
Here's the shakedown: Due to a reinstatement that occurred within the past two years, Farmers conducted an investigation, in which they are entitled to under Colorado law. After meeting with the investigator in January, my mother, in consultation with her attorney, sent in the appropriate paperwork to begin the claims process. Having opened all medical records and with the autopsy and toxicology reports in their hands, the ball was in Farmers' court.
Come mid-February, we became concerned, having not received any information from Farmers, other than a letter stating that the Claims Department had received the paperwork. With little progress also being made by our attorney's efforts, we decided to pay a visit to our agent. Mind you, he had never contacted us once during this time.
The visit was anything but productive. Several times during our conversation, the agent told us that there was "nothing else I [he] could do" as the claim was now out of his hands. He told us that claims adjustor Juliana Roseburg was now our point of contact. With her office located in Mercer Island, Washington, however, the only way of contacting her was by telephone. We walked out of his office about fifteen minutes later, feeling defeated and downright disrespected. Were we that "out of place" to ask about the status, let alone to visit our agent? We didn't think so. Later that same day, we called Ms. Roseburg. She never returned our call.
Mr. Soto did, however, promise to call Ms. Roseburg personally. We did receive a response from our agent three days later, only after our attorney called him. Here's the email:

Here is the status of the claim. In a nutshell, Farmers is not holding up the process... our claims dept. has not received medical records that they requested from _____ (a local) hospital and a health insurance company. I've already explained the situation to _____ (our attorney). Please call me if you have questions and definitely update your mom. If I hear of anything I will contact you immediately. Please call me if you have any questions.

So where did this leave us? It had been over three months since my stepfather's passing, our agent washed his hands clean of the situation, and the claims adjustor wouldn't speak to us. Even though my mother had opened all medical records back in January, we decided to pay a visit to the local hospital. After speaking to the administrator in the records department, our suspicions were confirmed: the records were never requested.
To make matters worse, we received a call a few days later from the "health insurance company" that our agent mentioned in his email. The representative informed us that her company had just received a request for medical records and wanted to verify the release. It was official, Farmers was being untruthful and was in fact holding up the claim. After a little research, we decided to take the next step and report our claim to the Colorado insurance commissioner.
We filled in and sent out the complaint form on the commissioner's website on the evening of March 5th, and the following afternoon, we received a phone call from their office. I spoke with the analyst, and after asking a few additional questions, he informed me that he would be sending Farmers a letter later that day. In the letter, Farmers was notified to respond directly to us within twenty days of receipt or face penalties under Colorado law. Long story short, we received a call from our agent two weeks later, informing us that we would have a check for full payment (plus interest). One day shy of the four month 'anniversary' of my stepfather's death, we received our check.
Beyond the disrespect and unprofessionalism of the agents involved, my mother and I experienced a great of stress that came with living on a very limited budget and facing the prospect of losing our home. How were we expected to pay the mortgage let alone the monthly utilities? What it came down to was this: if we hadn't applied pressure on Farmers, they wouldn't have paid.

Advice for future Farmers fighters?
1.Keep pressure on your agent(s), even if they are a complete waste of your time.
2. CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE COMMISSIONER. The commissioner strikes fear in the hearts of insurance companies, and we saw the relatively quick results once we contacted our state agency.
3. Don't let them get away with disrespecting you. Hold the company and your agents accountable. Report them to consumer advocacy groups (BBB, Consumer Reports, etc.) and/or tell your story on websites such as this one!
4. Don't settle or back down. My stepdad, as a paying consumer, entrusted Farmers to hold up their side of the agreement. Four months and numerous sleepless nights later, they finally did but only after we continued to press the matter-at-hand.

Know your rights, know your commissioner, and don't back down.

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