The website of the OmbudService for Life & Health Insurance (OLHI) has been given a refresh, including some new or updated tools that advisors and members of the public can use to search for information on insurance policies.
The OLHI says it now counts itself as the only agency in the country to have the ability to let advisors and the public look for a policy of a deceased person by submitting certain information online. Once that’s done, the information is circulated to all OLHI member firms which then hunt for the policy, said Holly Nicholson, the OLHI’s executive director, ombudsman and general counsel.
Last year, it received 1,500-2,000 calls on this subject alone, she said.
How to prove that a policy exists
The OLHI notes however that before it can begin a search, the person requesting the information must have looked for the policy first, then provide evidence that a policy exists. As well, the request for the search must be less than two years and more than three months since the person’s death. In addition, the website stipulates that the OLHI must find it “reasonable” for it to conduct the search.
There is a long list of suggestions on how to prove that a policy exists, including reviewing bank records to show that premiums have been paid, contacting the human resources department at the deceased’s (former) employer, contacting the insurance agent, if known, as well as the deceased’s lawyer or accountant.
A tool that allow to search for a policy
At the same time, the OLHI has created a tool that will allow clients and advisors to search for an insurance policy that may have been taken over by a company as part of a merger or acquisition and now goes by a different name. Nicholson said almost half of all inquiries that come into the OLHI deal with how to find these policies.
“For example, as an advisor, if your client has an old Paul Revere disability policy, you could go online and see that that’s now carried by RBC Insurance,” said Nicholson.
“We found that a lot of people really need this tool because if they have a question about life insurance there [can be] many years from the date you originally sell it to when you make a claim on it or have a question about the policy. The original vendor could have also gone through some corporate changes.”
Clients can file an insurance complaint online
Added to the service as well is a new tool that lets clients file an insurance complaint online using e-signature technology. This updates the previous, more cumbersome method of going online, running off a form, signing it and then sending it through the mail or scanning it in, said Nicholson.
“That’s not what consumers expect now given that they can purchase so many things online and contract for services online,” she said. “We are really trying to speed up consumers’ ability to get their complaint looked at and this tool is a key part.”
Clients who want to make a complaint online must have first complete the insurer’s internal complaints process and received a “final position” letter from the insurance company.