The Zombies Ate My Brains

Rescuing what might remain of the grey matter.

Thanks, but No Thanks

No Thank You | Roy Lichtenstein | 1964

No Thank You | Roy Lichtenstein | 1964

I ❤ my insurance company. They are so considerate. Generous too! Why, just today, I received a nice letter in the mail reminding me that I had only a few weeks left to respond to their offer.

OK. I have to stop.

First of all, I don’t think I can maintain the farce. Second, I’m not a big fan of über-sarcasm.

Rant it is, then!

According to the offer, I can double the level of accidental death protection without doubling my cost (their emphasis). At first you think that you can get double the coverage for the same premium, don’t you? Of course, buried in the text is the notation that this added coverage costs $5.42 a month. That amounts to about 20% of the initial premium.

At first I thought, “Forget it!” I did not appreciate the fact that the “special” offer was marked “urgent” and “this won’t last” and “act now!” However, I resisted the temptation to recycle the letter and thought it best that I talk with Reiner. After all, this is life and death, right?

When he got home, he read the fine print. Among the assorted disclaimers was this: basically, in order to qualify for the benefit, the deceased must become deceased at the scene of the accident. Death on the operating table does not qualify.

My mother was killed in a car crash. We children benefited from the double indemnity clause because it was an accident. She was at fault. She ran a red light and was t-boned by a transport truck. She died in hospital about 8 hours after the event.

If she was covered by this plan, however, and died today, we would not qualify for the benefits. Clever of them to close that little loop-hole, say what?

I don’t have a lot of good things to say about banks and insurance companies. Here in Canada, if you have a mortgage, you must have house insurance. If you make a claim on that insurance, it is not worth your while. The insurer increases the premiums, or declines coverage.

Meanwhile, I am approaching my retirement. I would like my savings to generate a decent rate of return. Guaranteed investment products pay 1.5% to 3% depending on the balance in your account. The inflation rate today sits at 2%. You do the math.

My only choice for a decent rate of return, say 6%, is to invest in the stock market, which, in my opinion, is no different from Black Jack or Roulette. Of course I have money in mutual funds and other investment products, but I’d like to be encouraged to invest in safer choices, like a bank. There was a time when a savings account generated a decent rate of return. Actually, around the time of my mom’s death in 1986, GIC rates, for instance paid between 6 and 10% which was just slightly higher than a bank account.

Today,  if my balance is over 5 million dollars in a “high” interest savings account, I will earn a whopping 1.05% in return.

[deep breath]

A friend works for one of the largest insurance companies in the world by market capitalization and employs about 30,000. According to a recent article in the Globe and Mail, this company ranked number one for the amount of cash it holds. That is, six billion dollars (emphasis mine.)

Sit with that a moment and consider what that means. A company is so wealthy that it has billions of dollars, in cash, sitting around. Got it? Good.

So perhaps, then, you could explain to me why, according to my friend, she and her colleagues must work insane overtime hours, year round, because they are short-staffed. Why is it that the number one company cash-wise cannot afford to upgrade their IT network to one that… well, works. As opposed to one that is the patch upon patch with work-arounds out the ying-yang. This is the same company that consistently advertises for employees. People are jumping ship, left, right, and centre, the stressful working conditions are intolerable.

By the way, the most I could earn with this company’s GIC is 2.45%.

About the offer to increase my accidental death benefit? Yeah, thanks insurance company, but no thanks. I [dis]respectfully decline your invitation.









Categories: In Other News

35 replies

  1. The Mister has worked in insurance, and now works in financial services, so all I can do is nod along to your entire rant. (And also, play the lotto!) It hasn’t been that long ago, when I worked in banking briefly after college) that if I invested $500 in a money market, I could earn more in a year than the interest on my first car loan. Now, savings returns are so low, people don’t want to invest in smaller/ safer. It’s go big, risk big, maybe pay out alright. It’s frightening.
    It also hasn’t been so long since people were flattened by the stock market crash. Whoosh! Savings expected from investment?!? GONE!


  2. You know there is going to be a catch, don’t you, so just let it go. Insurance companies will argue because it is worth their while. And we keep paying premiums, because we have a societal phobia, according to which everything devolves to ‘what the insurers say’. As if they were the next thing to God.

    Sister of the revolution, don’t let it worry you. XXX 😀


    • Hi Fran. For the most part, I do not dwell on it. But when galling and outright lies and deceit crop up, yeah, I get my back up.

      Once this thread quiets down, so will my ire.

      “Sister of the revolution”. I like that! 🙂


  3. I have a friend whose house was built in 1846. In Minnesota, that is old.

    One day the city announced that the land he thought was his front yard was not his at all. It was platted to be a road. You see when the city decided to build a road over a hundred and fifty years ago, they hired one Iri Oder and his team of horses (yup, that was his name). Iri looked at the platt and said to his horses, “that der don’t make no sense at all.”. So he put the road where it did make sense (and still does).

    My friend contacted his title insurance company and asked them to make things right.

    Their response:, “Sue us.”

    So he contacted a lawyer. His lawyer, a relatively honest fellow said, “they have four lawyers on staff, how many you got?”


    • Golly, thanks for this great but terrible illustration.

      I know that mine is not a new story and it is pettier than petty in the scheme of people getting screwed over by corporations and banks and insurance companies.

      When I hear stories like this I here the theme song from The Godfather. We pay our protection fees and pray for safe passage.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Couple of thoughts (ok, actually I need the soapbox for a minute and I know I’ll wish I kept my mouth shut!)

    You always have to read the fine print.

    Back in the “good old days” when we fondly remember banks paying such high interest rates on savings, my fixed mortgage rate ( and the norm in the US) was 8.5%. There is no free lunch.

    As for “guaranteed” rates – there are NO guarantees except death. If we learned anything in the recent financial debacle, it’s that a guarantee is only as good as the government or company standing behind it. Our federal government forced private bondholders (us) to accept default on “guaranteed” General Motors bonds. Annuities were paid ONLY IF the insurance company didn’t fold. Never never think of an annuity, or anything else, as guaranteed – it’s only guaranteed if a company is financially solvent at the time payment is due.

    I’m not haranguing banks or insurance companies. There simply are NO guarantees -even from a government – and the sooner people realize that, the better they manage their own finances. I learned a long time ago that I’m ultimately the “guarantor” of my financial situation. Take out the emotion and keep the education.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your thoughts. Point taken, regarding the high cost of borrowing. I recall paying 14% for a first mortgage in 1980.

      I guess my position is this: I live frugally, I have worked most of my adult life, and have a very modest nest egg. (Ironically, if it were not for my mother’s death, I would not be as well off.) I do not have near enough to retire on yet, but getting there. I read where our federal and provincial governments are bemoaning the fact that the boomers as well as younger citizens are not able to retire because they have no savings. “So save!”, they tell us.

      I would if I could, but my options are severely limited if not altogether nil.


      • I know, Maggie. I do think so many struggle with saving any extra, and it shouldn’t be like that. We have regulated and law-suited ourselves to the point where everything is so expensive, there’s nothing left after groceries and electricity. Living frugally should absolutely provide some reward in later years; i get most frustrated for people who truly live within their means and STILL don’t have a way to get ahead. That just doesn’t seem right.

        After your re-post yesterday about the Oprah tea and this one, I’m feeling a little down-hearted. I hate to think society’s best, most meaningful days are behind us, but finding bright spots takes some searching some days.

        Hang in there. Me too!


  5. Maggie, it’s the same everywhere. Our interest rate is currently something like 2.5%, which means our damned dollar is being kept up by it, which means our manufacturing sector – that small rump of it that’s managed to survive TROWC so far – is struggling against all the odds. But the bloody finance industry is just as criminal in Oz, I promise. Well,why would it not be ? – your and our PMs are as vile as each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oy! My 2nd husband works in insurance and he’s like the only honest guy in that industry I know. And that means a lot when your ex can say that about you! But even he cannot circumvent their ridiculous changes, though he tries to help his clients find their “own loopholes.” Very sorry to hear about your mother. I kinda feel like I know her after all the childhood tales and dinner table stories. I never knew that part though. Lotsa love and yay for living frugally. I am coupon queen and proud of it.


    • Hey Steph… yes, your ex would feel mightily conflicted, I can imagine that. Wanting to do right but working with a whole bunch of wrong.

      I have not yet written about mom’s passing. The moment hasn’t arrived yet, I guess. Well, up until yesterday’s moment, that is.

      Keep on clippin’!



  7. There are so many insurance horror stories that entire books could be written about it. This however takes it to a whole new level. The fine print on the accidental death policy which doesn’t apply to death that isn’t immediate is absolutely repugnant.
    I could go on my own rant right now about my feelings related to big business and insurance companies would certainly be featured.

    On a different note, there is no happy way to lose a mother, but I expect a tragic accident would be particularly difficult. How very sad for you.


    • Hi Joanne. When I get truly good and worked up about stuff like this, I end up having a talk with myself and it goes something like this:

      Self? You see that big thunderstorm bearing down on you?


      Well, it’s an inexorable force of nature. Nothing you can do about it. All of your wailing and gnashing of teeth? Futile. Take cover, do what you need to do to protect yourself and pray for a safe outcome.

      Huh. This puts me in mind of the thread the other day about sayings that bug me. I was just about to write “it is what it is.”
      Several of my readers mentioned that this saying bothered them because it is defeatist.

      This insurance/corporate greed issue is a tough one for me. I can do more. Right? But what? Besides admit defeat.


      • There was a time in my life when it seemed I was constantly wailing against the world about something. One day I decided life was too short to always be angry and now I’m like teflon – it just slides off me …. most of the time.

        Liked by 1 person

    • PS – thanks to the mention about mom. It was tough, as you have noted. It’s been 28 years and writing about it yesterday was unemotional, for once. I completely forgot last year’s anniversary of the accident – a first.


  8. Maggie, Thanks for sharing. What criminals run those insurance scams. Wow, you have many stories ahead. Sad to hear of your Mother’s violent death. Glad you are finally coming to terms with it though.
    Good that you can see your retirement time approaching….it is so good!


  9. Luckily for my generation there are barely any full time jobs so no one has any money to save or invest… Luckily super bugs are making antibiotics useless and they keep raising minimum wage so I won’t have to worry about living till retirement Little bit of bright news there 🙂

    Its best to just not think about it…. I know private corporations will always do what’s best for me


  10. I worked for an honest, caring insurance company once, long ago. If they still exist, I wonder if they are still honest and caring. One doubts it. How could they remain competitive?


    • I also doubt it. Smaller companies have been gobbled up by the larger ones and banks are now in the insurance game (here in Canada at least). These commercial behemoths have one mission and one mission only: make a profit. A record breaking profit. Investors will flee when a company reports a paltry 3 billion in profit if that same company had projected 4 billion. Tsk and for shame!


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