All my life I have believed in the concept of insurance, and that it can help when I am have falling ill or provide relief for my children when I finally leave this world behind.
I am writing an utterly bitter experience with AIA so those of you who consider insuring yourself with them, can hopefully benefit from my unfortunate incident.
Let me share a little bit about my mother with you. She used to make coffee for a living, not rich but very thrifty; supporting the livelihood of 7 children. She loved her children and grandchildren with all her heart.
Around 15 years ago when she was finally retired, she was unfortunately diagnosed with dementia. It was extremely painful to watch my mother become a shell of strong independent woman she was. During the last few years of her life, she was immobilised and had to be sent to a nursing home for the adequate medical care she needed. She passed away in February 2017 from gangrene poisoning and pneumonia at the age of 92. It was excruciating to watch her final 8 months of struggle, but the only comfort was that she no longer needs to feel physical pain.
Around 30 years ago, my mother has signed up for 3 AIA policies in her 60s. During that time, despite insurance being largely unpopular, she wanted to leave a legacy with whatever little she had for her children. As she was illiterate and never received any education, she had trusted the agent and AIA to provide comfort for her family when she is no longer around.
When dementia took whatever consciousness was left in her in late 2000s, I took up the responsibility to maintain the routine payments of the premiums for the policies. There was no way I was going to let the legacy of my mother lapse.
With her passing, all three policies became due for payout. On top of coping with the loss of a kin, AIA’s claim process began a nightmare we cannot wake up from. All three policies had pay out terms with extremely deflated values that me and my siblings do not agree with. It might be too confusing to share all the cases here, so I shall discuss just one.
One of the policies was an AIA Financial Guardian whole life (participating) policy she purchased when she was 64 in 1988. The sum assured is $30,000, and the projected death benefit at this point (30 years by 2017) is $67,140. We have paid $48,362 in total premium over 24 years where premium was payable. For this policy, AIA is paying a death benefit of $49,731! While I understand the $67,140 is a projection, this discrepancy is close to 25%. Are those projected numbers we are presented with when we purchase insurance policies nothing but a mere inflated dream so that insurance agents can close the deal and line their pockets? AIA seemed to benefit most if this was the case.
I called up the AIA call centre in late March l hoping to get a clarification and a review. “I will look into it and call you back,” the claim department said. That was a promise that was made but never kept. Three weeks later, I called back, hoping there was an update. Nothing.
Finally on 12 April, Hendry Ang from the customer service team called back to ask me what the issues were, clearly indicating that few or no notes were passed to him. I reiterated our dissatisfaction with the payouts and he assured me he would look into the matter.
No news after a week, except a letter sent addressed to my deceased mother asking her to inform them of the change in address…
So I spoke with my siblings and we decided we should try to meet up with the AIA team to understand the situation. I got a few of my family members down to AIA customer service center to speak with the service team on 20 April.
The same Hendry whom I spoke to sat down and asked us, “So, what is the issue with the payout terms that we are unhappy with?” I had thought he was already looking into the issues, but I guess that was wishful thinking on my side. Our problem was but a hot potato passed around from department to department.
He was unable to offer a proper justification, and was just blindly reading off the policy. We were not placated, and he got us to wait for 45 minutes as he escalated the case to his manager, Melissa Liew. When Melissa came into the meeting room, no one would have expected she came in with absolutely no idea what was discussed before. She started with a whisper to Hendry, “So, what is the issue?”
The 2-hour meeting with them yielded nothing and Hendry was stuck with the first policy, being clueless about the remaining two my mother had bought.
All we got from the session were answering-machine responses like ‘we will reflect your requests to our top management’ and ‘we are still investigating.’ In the end, we accepted that they could get back to us after two weeks for a soulful resolution.
Two weeks later. Nothing.
Three and a half weeks later, I received letters in my mailbox stating that AIA will not accede to the request and they have proposed all proceeds in accordance with the policy terms. Claiming that since my mother has signed and added her thumbprint to the policies indicated that she understood the terms, and that since we mentioned no one was around her when she signed these policies, she must have understood the policies. “Since none of you were around when she signed the policies, we cannot ascertain for what reasons she bought the policies and what they are for.” and “The claims are paid in accordance with the terms and conditions of the policy contract.”
The pain of losing my mother is still fresh and AIA is not making it easier to cope. Saving up every cent she earned and entrusting them to AIA only to have her legacy eroded.
Since AIA has given their ultimatum here, my siblings and I are left stranded helpless. I do not know what else I can do to have a proper review done. We understand insurance is not an investment tool, but we need a fair claim amount that was promised to her.
I have certainly lost faith in insurance and definitely AIA.