Paying for a Policy Never Purchased

I am an 81 year old widow who has never had to deal with the selection of an insurance company before.  For more years than I can remember we were helped by our agent at Acordia Northeast and our policies were with Atlantic Mutual.  After the agent with whom I had a wonderful working relationship left Acordia, I was bounced around from one uninterested agent after another but did not make any changes because Atlantic Mutual always took excellent care of me on the relatively few occasions I needed them.

This spring my so-called agent notified me that the ratings for Atlantic had been severely reduced and recommended that I switch to Fireman's Fund.  Very reluctantly I agreed by phone to let the agent send me policies they offered so I could review them.  He sent me an automobile policy from American Auto Insurance, a company I had never heard of and who raised the rate being charged.  He also sent a Home Insurance Policy from the same company that was completely unacceptable because I had moved from a large and valuable home to a tiny apartment in a residential community that I did not own.  The coverage was well beyond anything I could possibly have needed and in addition, more expensive.  I called and requested a severely revised and reduced policy which I never received.

At no time did I ever accept either policy or indicate in writing or by phone that I was willing to buy the policies. In addition, at no time did anyone ever tell me it was necessary to send a letter to either the agent or insurance company stating that I did not want to buy the policies.

When I received a bill for both policies I sent the bills back to the company stating on the bill that I had not bought the policies and had in fact bought insurance from another company.  The only response was to send the bills to me again telling me I had to cancel their policies.  How on earth can I cancel something I never bought?

When I called Fireman's Insurance the recorded answering machine mentioned the need to write to the company, and that was the first time I was given that information.  The person I spoke to insisted I had to pay for coverage they had provided for the period between the time my Atlantic Mutual Policy ended and the time my new policy took effect.  They also tried to tell me I had to pay for the home insurance as well, telling me it was a requirement of the state.  I don't know what the state could have to do with my home policy and, since I did not drive my car at any time that it was not covered by insurance, I can't imagine why the state would care.  Obviously, since I did not drive, I did not have an accident and certainly did not make any claims.

They are trying to collect a total of $470 from me for coverage from 3/30  (when my Atlantic policy ended) to 5/17 which is probably the date I called them.  I never indicated that I wanted to buy these policies and I cannot see why I have to pay them anything.  I do not have a pension and my financial goal is very simply to try and not outlive what money I have.

Answer:

Your agent is to blame in this situation. Unfortunately, most insurance transactions are done over the phone, and so although you never gave your authorization for the policies that were sent to you, it was "assumed" through your agent. Further, your agent didn't make any requirements for "cancellation" clear to you. At the very least, you should be reporting your agent's behaviour to both your insurer and the Department of Insurance. It seems a bit suspicious that you got policies that were so poorly written and didn't reflect your insurance needs properly. It could be that your agent was "taking advantage" of you.

If you are not familiar with the Department of Insurance, they would be an excellent resource for you. You don't tell me what state you are from, but virtually every state has either a Department of Insurance, Insurance Commissioner or both. If you search for "Deparment Of Insurance" and your state, you should find the right agency.

The Department of Insurance can also tell you what your state's legislation is, and whether what you've been told by the insurer is correct. It's possible that you may owe money since you didn't respond to the original invoice and cancel the policies (although you hadn't "bought" them) at that point; however, it's also possible that with some help from your Department of Insurance that you can get this situation rectified so that you don't owe any money.
 

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