Tuesday, 25 May 2010

LIttle boys...

There's something so charming about little boys... until they discover the truth --- that as little boys, they can play with their balls...

Yeah, I know, that was in bad taste! What did you expect, it's a blog about my kiddos, not one of THOSE OTHER web pages! :)

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Sunlife Financial - not impressed!

I wanted to post a little rant, if I might. Strictly because when I googled it, I found nothing negative from anyone. So... to provide a little balance...

Sunlife Financial has CRAPPY customer service!

Our relationship with Sunlife began several years ago, when it was still called Clarica, before the merger happened and Sunlife monopolized the company. A woman ( let's call her DINGBAT) cold-called us offering to sell us life insurance policies. She'd gotten our name from someone I worked with (another dingbat, but that's a different story) as a referral and wanted to discuss options with us. We decided this was probably a good idea, having not purchased life insurance yet. We listened to her spiel and ended up purchasing Term Insurance --- because frankly, the high prices on permanent insurance scared us away.

Enter baby #1. DINGBAT called us shortly after Alex's birth, to schedule a customary annual check-in. Fair enough. When she discovered that we were brand new parents she enthusiastically encouraged us to purchase life insurance on our tiny little babe. DINGBAT presented us with what we thought was VERY sound reasoning. If we purchased life insurance when Alex was a baby, we would have his policy paid off by the time he was 20, and he'd go into adulthood with the security of knowing that he has something to leave his future family, should anything happen to him. He would NOT have to undergo a medical as an adult, because we'd purchased his insurance at a time when he was perfectly healthy. Further, at age 20 or so, should he want to increase our 50,000 policy he could do so, up to 150,000 with no further medical.

Banking on your kids' deaths is a morbid, horrible thing to think about. The reason we chose to purchase insurance for Alex is because of the fact that he could get more as an adult without the medical exam. Life insurance on Cory, and to a lesser extent, myself, is pretty pricey since we qualified as adults. We truly feel that we have given Alex a gift and taken away some of the stress of having to qualify for life insurance as an adult.

Fast forward 2.5 years. I received a gift basket of baby goodies when our second son was born. I actually received a crapload of stuff --- if you want to score big, have yourself a New Year's Baby... but I digress. I received a gift basket from a Clarica agent. Let's call her Billie. I rather liked Billie, she was a sweetheart. I sent a thank you note for the gift basket, and sure enough... Billie called us a couple of weeks later. We explained that we already had a Clarica agent, DINGBAT. She informed us that DINGBAT had left the company, but she'd be happy to transfer our policies to herself. She came out to our home and we discussed the sensible option of purchasing a policy for Connor. We told her we wanted the exact same thing as Alex --- 50,000 coverage that we'd be done paying for when he was 20. She set up a policy exactly the same as Alex's.

We smugly paid our premiums month after month, knowing that we have given our future grandchildren peace of mind should the unthinkable happen.

Fast forward again... this time only a little over a year. We phoned Billie to let her know that we have had a third child and we wanted to purchase life insurance on her. Gotta love getting them qualified as healthy newborns. What a brilliant strategy.

Billie had left the company. Her replacement, DUMBASS, introduced himself and explained that Clarica was no longer called Clarica. The company had merged with Sunlife Financial, but that he would be happy to assist us with all of our financial needs. He came out to our house armed with a laptop he really doesn't have a clue how to use, and the news that he couldn't find Alex or Connor's life insurance policies on their system.

Umm... hello?

Anyway, let's just say we had a lot of back and forth with him and he did end up eventually locating our sons' policies. Just wasn't looking in the right direction, I guess. At this visit I purchased permanent life insurance for Kirstin, as well as renewing my "term" insurance and switching over to permanent for myself, too. Cory has stuck with term insurance, because being a man; in his thirties; and overweight we cannot afford the premiums on him. But, whatever. We're good. We're happy. Our family is taken care of and for the next 15 to 20 years I pay a big chunk of money to Sunlife Financial, but then we've got some security should the unthinkable occur.

So, why am I blogging about this mundane topic?

Well... last month DUMBASS called us up and asked if he could come out and go over our policies. He came armed with information about investing and RESPs and whatnot, which we politely declined. Then we got to talking about my kids' policies and we asked for clarification about Alex's policy, the one we'd purchased more than 5 years ago... at $25 per month, so, somewhere between $1500 and $1800 dollars later. Connors would be sitting at about $900.

Turns out, what DINGBAT had sold us, and then later Billie (although I don't completely blame her because she sold me what I asked her to), is called Universal Life Insurance. Basically, our premiums were being invested and as the investments grow (big surprise they haven't) the cash value in the policy grows and the idea is that eventually there is enough cash value in the policy to continue paying the premiums.

Umm... huh?

So, you're telling me that when Alex is 20 his policy isn't necessarily paid off?

No. DUMBASS projected that if we stop paying his policy at 20, the cash value MIGHT continue to cover the premiums until he is 50.

So, you're telling me that at 50 my son's "permanent" life insurance coverage will expire?

Well, yes, but you can continue to pay the premiums for Alex, or he can start paying them then you can continue to build it up. I'm sure that DINGBAT explained this to you when you purchased the policy.

She most certainly did not! That's dumb, why would we buy something that expires at 50 years old??? And why the hell would we commit ourselves or our son to paying a bill for the rest of ours/his life? And what about Connor's and Kirstin's?

Connor's is the same as Alex's. If you stop paying the premiums on his at age 20, his will run out when he's in his fifties too.


Kirstin's is permanent insurance, as is mine, so according to DUMBASS, our coverage is guaranteed for life. Although if you read the fine print, the policy is void at age 100, so you bet your ass if I live to 99, I'm surrendering it for the cash value.

To make a longer story only a slightly bit shorter, we talked about it and decided to cancel Alex and Connor's policies. DUMBASS told us that surrendering them now would mean that there is a cash value of approximately $500 between the two of them which we could have sent to us, or roll into another policy. Umm, hmmm, let's ponder that... send us the cheque please!

So, we still haven't decided if we've done the right thing or not. We cancelled the boys' policies and purchased PERMANENT --- not universal --- life insurance policies that we are going to pay for for the next 20 years guaranteeing them insurance until they are 100.


Until last week. DUMBASS phoned to apologize and say that he hadn't submitted our request on time so Sunlife had to take a double payment out on May 7th. He said he wanted to phone and let me know so that I could make sure I had the money in the account to cover it. Well, Cory gets paid at midnight on May 7th, so I grudgingly agreed. Then he said, "oh, and I made a mistake, I forgot that there was a fee to surrender the policies which will be deducted from the cheque you were expecting".

Fine. How much is the fee?

Well... it's $500.


So, this $500 that we were expecting to get in the mail... Let's just do the math, shall we?

I reminded him that we'd paid over $2500 for this policies over the years for nothing... and his reply was that we had the peace of mind of knowing that our children were covered for 5+ years. Cory's response, yay him, was that we didn't buy the %#$&ing policies so that we could cash in if our kids die... we bought them because we wanted to give them the %#$&ing peace of mind of knowing that should they not be completely healthy as adults, they wouldn't have to deal with the exhorbitant prices that we face.

DUMBASS said that Sunlife won't do anything to return our money. They don't believe that we were misinformed 5 years ago.

So... we're sucking it up and moving on. We're not sure that we've made the right decision. We're now in a position of putting out almost $200 a month for 4 permanent life insurance policies and one term one. When Cory hits 35, his term one will increase in price again, and we may have to look at cancelling at that point. Right now we're tempted to cancel the whole lot. It's just money, right... perhaps our $200 a month would be better stuck into a savings account for funeral expenses that are decades away, anyway. Nothing like playing Russian Roulette with your family's well-being.

A final note... the double payment on the boys' insurance policy... well it was deducted from our account on May 6th. Most likely before DUMBASS phoned to let me know it was coming out tomorrow. So, on May 31st, I'll be getting a nice $5 service charge for going in to overdraft.

I think the $5 is what pisses us off the most!