My Assurant (Consumer - not Agent) Story

Aug 23, 2008

  1. pipedream
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    pipedream Expert

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    I live in Western Pennsylvania. My husband and I are self-employed. My family has had a high deductible HSA (was originally a MSA....then converted to an HSA when Congress passed new legislation) with Assurant Health since March of 2000. When we started with 2 children and 2 adults covered, the quarterly premium was $892 and the calendar year family deductible was $4,500; total OOP in or out of network was $5,500.


    By last September (2007), our quarterly premiums had increased to $2,615 with the same deductible. An increase of nearly 300% in seven years.

    This June we received a letter informing us that Assurant Health was discontinuing our policy and replacing it with one of their new products. When I called to inquire about details of the new policy, I was told the details were not yet available but "it will be a better policy....more well coverage, higher lifetime maximum."


    When we received the details of the new policy three weeks ago, we learned that the quarterly premium (now for 2 adults and 1 dependent) will be $3022.32 ($12,088/year) and the deductible will increase to $5,700; maximum OOP in-network will be $10,700; OOP out-of-network will be $18,700. AND even though we have met our $5,500 deductible for 2008, as of 9/1/08, Assurant tells us that we will have to come up with another $1,200 before they will cover anything….and then they will only cover 50% of the next in-network $10,000 in medical expenses.

    No one at Assurant Health sees anything wrong with this picture. I thought a calendar year was 01/01 to 12/31.


    As far as I am concerned, Assurant has now priced themselves out of my ability to pay. No one but the very wealthy can afford to pay $22,700 to $30,700 every calendar year before their health insurance pays 100% towards their medical expenses.


    Our family had no medical issues when we took out the policy. Unfortunately, in Nov. 2002 my son had a sports injury which caused us to meet the deductible in December, 2002 and in Feb. 2003, my husband was diagnosed with cancer so we met two full calendar year deductibles totaling $11,000 within just three months - great timing! Then in May 2003, my 17 year old son was diagnosed with a benign tumor which required surgical removal and numerous reconstructive surgeries. In addition, he experienced sports injuries three more times in the next couple of years. (He's fine now too.)


    Our medical expenses for these illnesses/injuries has meant that we have met the deductible each year since 2002. We have struggled the last few years to pay the ever increasing premiums and the $5,500 deductible (actually higher because of Assurant's determination of what is reasonable often left us paying more). With this “new, improved plan”, Assurant has made it impossible for us to continue with them. It seems the new plan may be a deliberate attempt to get rid of us.


    I am still in shock and as I explored other options (after Assurant told me “we have nothing else to offer you.”) I wondered how our self-employed family is going to get health insurance coverage. I was stunned to read recently that Assurant Health is reducing premiums in other states in an apparent attempt to attract new customers.


    We would have continued to struggle to pay the increased premiums if Assurant had retained the original $4,500/$5,500 deductible. As it is, I feel our loyalty to the company has not been mutual and Assurant’s decision to drop our plan has us in a place we never expected to be….unable to afford health insurance.


    Until now, my husband and I felt secure, believing that if we continued paying the ever-increasing premiums, our policy would continue and we would have coverage. This latest development has shaken us out of that secure place. I thought Assurant was going to be there for us - certainly that was part of the sales pitch and remains part of their advertisments. We have told countless people down through the years what a great company they are. And I guess they are a great company unless you happen to need the health insurance coverage they sell.

    Ironically, my husband passed his 5-year cancer free check-up in March and it is unlikely that we will have expenses that exceed the $5,500 deductible from now on as he won't need CT scans, expensive blood work, etc....he doesn't have to see the oncologist for another year. So just as Assurant was poised to begin to recoup their outlay for my husband's cancer, they have priced themselves out of the opportunity.

    Currently, we are attempting to get a guaranteed issue policy with Highmark BCBS for my husband and individual PPO Blue policies for myself and our college student son. I found this forum after an exhaustive search for alternate options and after submitting the applications. I have not yet heard whether the policies will be issued.

    I've been reading this forum for a week. Several things have surprised me.

    First of all, we never heard personally from the agent who sold us our Assurant policy after the initial sale, though we occasionally get a form newsletter from him soliciting us for his financial planning business. It never occurred to me to call him about this latest situation. I am shocked to read that insurance agents here expect to service their customers! Good information to know, even if it is a eight years too late!

    Secondly, I was surprised to learn that 20% commission is the average paid on health insurance sales and renewals and that Assurant pays annually. Our agent will no doubt be disappointed when we don't pay the next quarter's premium to renew the policy.

    Finally, I wanted to ask if, in fact, I have found the best option in pursuing Highmark BCBS PPO high deductible ($1,200 for each of us - both the guaranteed issue and medically underwritten policies) - or is there something else we should be looking at?
     
  2. STIBROKER
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    STIBROKER Like My post and enter the DRAWING,,,, Moderator

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    First I would try to write you own your own policy....you should not be sharing the risk in your prem. dollars....and possibly your son.....
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2008
  3. STIBROKER
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    STIBROKER Like My post and enter the DRAWING,,,, Moderator

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    and thats also I encourage all my clients from day one to call me at any time because the insurance company's are heartless and it takes a good broker to shop their options year after year....
     
  4. moonlightandmargaritas
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    moonlightandmargaritas Guru

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    Sounds like you've had a rough stretch, which is tough.

    How much in claims has Assurant paid out vs. the premiums you've paid?
     
  5. CHUMPS FROM OXFORD
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    CHUMPS FROM OXFORD Guru

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    I hate to say it, but I am not surprised. Here in Ohio, Assurant has some of the highest "complaint ratios" of any company...every year! I will not use them.

    Pennsylvania is the other state I do health insurance business in, and never use Assurant there either.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2008
  6. moonlightandmargaritas
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    moonlightandmargaritas Guru

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    Chumps, with all due respect I think your "complaint ratio" comment is grossly unfair, and surprising to me from a veteran of your experience level.

    The premiums are obviously high.

    Are "high premiums" cause for a complaint to the Ohio Department of Insurance?
     
  7. pipedream
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    I am not sure of the exact figures and the paper work which would tell me is at my husband's office, so I can't determine that with exactness until Monday when I am back in the office.

    I'm sure Assurant has paid out much more than we have paid them in premiums. My son's surgeries totaled over $100,000 and my husband's surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and follow-ups somewhere around $80,000 if I remember correctly.

    Believe me, I will be forever grateful to Assurant for the policy we had and for the coverage provided. Without them we would have been bankrupt. But I am shaken by their decision to discontinue the entire product and wondering if the same thing will happen again with another company.
     
  8. TXINSURANCE
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    Can I have permission to cut and paste this post to my website?

    Too many agents push Assurant do to the multi year rate lock and comissions. What you experienced was called "blocking" which is the dirty secret of individual insurance.

    Carriers block their busines into small pieces to keep the healthy and force high rates on business they would rather not have.

    Your situation is bad because you can not switch carriers with major pre existing issues.

    I challenge you to find me Assurant customers on the books for 4 to 10 years that are satisfied with their rates. I have customers on BCBS and Unicare from the first week I was in the business. Their rates are higher but they are close to street level fir the most part.
     
  9. salpro22
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    What did you think agents were paid? 20% is not average for renewals unless you know something I don't. It's closer to 4%-7% depending upon the carrier.

    I concur with Sti. You should get your own individual plan and your son is old enough to get his plan. Golden Rule is very competitive and if you can pass underwriting both of you should get HSA's. You're losing a lot of the benefits if you choose something else, which it sounds like you already know.
    The GI plan isn't that great, so I'd set things up as a small group if possible. You can set things up as a group of 1 in PA. Arnie on the forum here is somebody I have worked with and could help you out should you need to set up a group of one.

    Lastly, fire your agent for not doing his job!

    -J.R.
     
    salpro22, Aug 23, 2008
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  10. moonlightandmargaritas
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    moonlightandmargaritas Guru

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    Of the original premium as well.
     
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