Thursday, May 29, 2008

unwelcomed discrepancies

the past week has been a nightmare for me. it’s nothing serious as getting into trouble or going through a bad ordeal that concerns family, work, friends, or our household, God forbid. it’s more of a headache any person would usually go through once they start dealing with adult stuff…like banking and insurance coverage for instance.

working in the insurance industry since my internship days, i’ve been exposed to the idea of properly securing your future. i’ve learned to calculate the risks i take, and i logically weigh pros and cons whenever i need to make decisions, especially big ones. i have short-term and long-term goals, and i do my best to achieve them. in short, i look before i leap.

in late 2006, i’ve made a decision to take up another life insurance policy through
ALICO. the policy was purchased from one of the big local banks in the UAE through their bancassurance scheme. i thought then it would be good to have another policy in place for me, knowing that the policy is going to be written by the world’s top ranking insurance company (ALICO is AIG's life insurance arm) and currency is in USD. however, after paying for a month, i changed my mind as i realized i already have two standing insurance policies, one of which is now paid in full, and another with only just a few remaining years to pay left, not including the group term insurance coverage i have at work. to cancel the policy, i stopped paying the premium as i know that it will automatically lapse anyway. from thereon, i’ve contemplated on getting a pension plan instead.

come early 2007, i’ve made up my mind to get a pension plan through the same bancassurance scheme. i was torn then between ALICO & Zurich, but went for the former. premium payment was arranged through automatic debit from the savings account they had set up for me. i received my own ATM card that’s also a debit card, along with 2 Gold credit cards that are free for life. my banking life couldn’t get any better! or so i thought…

early this year, i suspected that something was wrong with my account. i wasn’t receiving my monthly statement of account on a regular basis so i wasn’t able to monitor my account closely. to make the long story short, the bank’s system, brilliant as it is, has been debiting me twice a month – one for the pension plan, and get this – one for the life policy that has long been cancelled (i had received a formal advise from the insurance company, which i have in my file). apparently, the bank did not set up a new account for me. they assigned me the same customer number where all my other transactions fall under (car loan, credit cards, pension plan). so whenever it recognizes the money i deposit for my pension plan, the bank deducts premium for the lapsed life policy. come due date for the pension plan, the system reflects that there is insufficient funds, therefore, they can’t remit to the insurer. how did that happen, you ask? because the bank claims that i didn’t ask them to cancel the standing order for the life policy, despite them knowing that my policy is already cancelled. wtf!!!

i was fuming mad when i learned that my pension plan had lapsed last December because ALICO was not receiving premium payments to keep it rolling. they did admit, however, that i have $710 in my suspense account because my bank was remitting money for a policy that is no longer existing. all along, money was floating in ALICO's system, and they didn’t know what to do with it. they couldn't contact me directly because of their agreement with the bank. the bank didn’t inform me either because their system is, for lack of a better word, inefficient. it was a messy picture, and for days, i was restless about it!

as i write this post, the application form to reinstate my pension plan has already been filled out. i obliged to have it signed by a witness, as well. i need to pay ALICO 3 months worth of premiums because the bank refrained from debiting my account. according to them, their “new” system does not debit premiums on reported lapsed policies. hahaha!! i wanted to tell them their operations is nothing but a huge joke!

oh well, what else can i do? i just have to face the situation and deal with all the paperwork with hope that everything will be settled soon. no sense in crying over spilled milk – even if i wasn’t the one who spilled the milk anyway!

wish me luck guys!


flowerdrumsong said...

Whoa - you should DEMAND that the bank should pay you off an interest for keeping your money ($710) for a policy that was cancelled and having this same money sent to the insurance company. it's not just stupid, it's totally illegal! were you assigned the 'same' policy number??? i assume NOT - as the cancelled policy was LIFE, and the new one was PENSION. I will not put up with that crap because the 'remittance' was baseless to begin with - so really, this is an UNAUTHORIZED transaction. If that happens in Canada or in the US, you can even sue them! Or, if you have other banks that you can consider who has standing agreement with regard to premium payments, switch ora mismo! I will not trust banking with them, imo. Good luck having this resolved!

Vannie said...

hi gracie! a TAG for you!

enjoy the weekend!

kelly said...

hey gracie, i hope everything goes well.

i'm wary of getting any type of insurance product right now because of an undelivered promise by insular life. :(

i'm thinking of mutual funds instead (since i've been hearing about it a lot) but i want to equip myself of solid facts before investing money into any type of investment. there are a lot of fin'l products in the market and i'm so lost on what's the best investment instrument for me. haaay...

Gracie said...

hi rowena! thanks for the support, sister! hay naku, 'pag naalala ko nga, sobrang nanginginig pa rin ako sa galit!! how i wish i'm in Canada or in the U.S. para na-sue ko na sila. dito kasi ibang jurisdiction, so ibang rules ang nag-aaply. i plan to switch banks na. and i asked specifically na sa ALICO na 'ko directly magbabayad ng premiums ko. i had to do some name dropping pa nga para lang pansinin ako ng bank. i just hope matapos na lahat next week. haaay!

Gracie said...

thanks vannie for the tag! will do it by Sunday, promise!

Gracie said...

hi kelly,

before i buy any policy, i check the background of the company, like how solid it is, which reinsurer they are supported by, which investments they make, etc. for my pension plan, i took on a bit of a risky plan 'cos i'm still young. my colleagues were very kind enough to teach me the ropes and explain to me how it all works. it took me months to decide.

kanina we've invested on national bonds. i've yet to learn about mutual funds though. buti na lang konti lang money namin :) kung millionaire pa kami, aba, hedging na ito! ;-)

Shelly said...

Sounds very much like HSBC, is it not? I chanced upon your blog and I enjoyed reading all your entries. I'm Dxb based as well kase. Very appropriate yung timing ng recent entry mo coz husbo and I have been talking of where and how to invest our money. Perhaps you could spare me some sound advice naman jan coming from someone who has a better know-how of insurance, investments and what not. :)

Gracie said...

hi shelly!

thanks for stopping by. the bank is Mashreqbank. i thought since they are properly regulated here and more 'high tech' than at home, mas magaling ang operations. di naman pala! goodness, nakakapanghina ang stupidity ng system nila!

i suggest for you and your hubby, mag-invest na kayo on life insurance as early as now if you don;t have one yet. choose a sound insurance company like ALICO, Zurich and Axa, which are supported by big reinsurers, and who invest their money wisely. higher ang premium than the others, but more likely to pay you when you need them na. and get a pension plan, too. allocate a certain amount from your earnings to prepare for your retirement. invest on national bonds - your money will earn much more there than investing on a TD sa bank.

i'm not exactly expert on this, but this are just a few tips from my colleagues, as well.

good luck!

Shelly said...

You're banking with Marhreq? Oh geez, they're the worst bank here in the UAE I tell you. Based from my friends' experiences and 1 Emarati banker I know.

Husbo and I never thought about life and pension insurance. Will definitely tell him about this. He has national bonds but never really active with it. Will defo find more about it. Ever heard though about investing on real estate here? Like renting to own. Yun daw kase ang ginagawa ng mga iba dito and it's a really good investment daw. I would really love to hear your thoughts on these.

I've checked your multiply account and was shocked to Sarj in it. She was a good friend back in college (SPCM). Another one of those small-world moments.

Love your blog and have added it on to my favorites.

Gracie said...

hubby & i have other banks apart from Mashreq, but the best there is for us is HSBC pa rin.

no plans of investing on real estate. with the kind of regulations they have here, nakakatakot pa rin. the government can easily change its mind. we don't plan kasi to stay long here din naman so we haven't considered that option talaga.

sarj is my cousin - we're besties since we were younger. i know a few of her classmates, too. send me a link of your blog so we can x-link, ok? and thanks so much for visiting my little site :)