Car dealers often bundle life insurance policies into their loan packages. But when customers pay off their debt early, one insurance company doesn’t refund the premiums, according to a class action lawsuit.
Here’s how it worked for Portland resident (now plaintiff) Susan Hansen: She bought a used Chevy Blazer from Middletown Toyota in 2002, according to court documents. The dealer added $145 for 36 months of life insurance, and $296 for 36 months of disability insurance. Monumental Life Insurance Company issued the policy.Even though Hansen paid the entire premium up front, technically Monumental is supposed to “earn” it over the 36 month term of the loan, according to the suit. If Hansen hadn’t paid her loan early, Monumental would have earned the entire premium she paid.But Hansen fully paid off the loan less than 19 months into the 36 month term, meaning she should be entitled to the portion of her premium Monumental did not earn, Hansen’s Rocky Hill-based lawyer Dan Blinn said. Yet the company has not returned the money, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court last month.Even without pocketing the unearned premiums, Blinn said this kind of “single credit” life insurance carried some of the highest premium to benefit ratios in the industry. “It’s a big moneymaker for them,” Blinn said, but added that he saw more contracts with insurance a few years ago compared to now. Part of the problem, he said, is that once a car is traded in or a loan is paid off early, there is “no mechanism for insurance company to be aware the contract is canceled.” The lawsuit seeks class certification, meaning anyone else who is owed money by Monumental can join as a plaintiff.A Monumental employee referred us for comment to Laura Robinson, Divisional HR Development/Communications Manager for Stonebridge Life Insurance. Robinson, however, declined to address the allegations in the lawsuit. She also refused to discuss the nature of the company’s business in Connecticut, including volume of policies issued.Asked how Stonebridge was related to Monumental, Robinson again refused to answer. However, the company’s web site indicates both corporate entities are owned by AEGON Group of Companies.