Recently, there has been a class action lawsuit against Transamerica over their “no death” policy. In an email to a potential new policy holder one business tried to make a case to point out how risky universal life policies are, as if universal life policies were always going to result in the same inevitable, disastrous result as what befell the class action lawsuit plaintiffs of the past… It is one thing to point this out as a business strategy, it is quite another to suggest that it is a good idea for you and I to put our entire financial portfolio on the line over a relatively small investment. In light of the recent credit crisis more than anything it is vital for anyone considering taking out a life policy to research both the cost and the benefit from such a policy.
A class action lawsuit against Transamerica was filed by the National Association of Legal Support Executives (NALSE) in the U.S. The lawsuit targets three specific policies, which they call the “no death” policies, the “endowment life” policies and the “investment life” policies. According to the NALSE the policies are mandatory, self-induced, unfair and deceptive. Essentially the policies encourage and induce people to put their entire financial portfolio on the line, even if they do not intend to do so.
The class action lawsuit against Transamerica is currently before the courts. Some claims have been won, but on appeal to one of the claims was ruled on merit, i.e. the claim was found to be based on factual evidence. Apparently the claim was to view or download a copy of the Transamerica Universal Life Policy.
As reported by The Los Angeles Times, this is what the class action lawsuit against Transamerica is all about: A class action lawsuit was filed because of the Transamerica Universal Life policy. The policy offers a low cost increase in life insurance coverage on a voluntary basis to all Transamerica Universal Life Plan holders. If you enroll in the plan, you must agree to pay the full cost increase. This means that each year, the company has the right to jack up the cost of your premium.
According to the class action suit, the Transamerica Universal Life policy encourages and requires Transamerica life brokers to artificially inflate the costs of the policies. In turn, the brokers receive kickbacks from Transamerica for inflating the rates. Then when the policy holders filed a class action lawsuit against Transamerica, the company was forced to disclose and provide documents related to their excess management fee and the excess management fee per policy holder. The court found that the excess management fee constitutes a misrepresentation as the policy does not include an “overall” excess fee and only provides for an “asset-based excess fee.”
So here is what the class action lawsuit is really about: A class action lawsuit was filed against Transamerica because they encouraged and required brokers to inflate the cost of their policies through a “class action” settlement process. When the lawsuit was finally brought to court, the court found that Transamerica’s Universal Life Insurance program violates several federal and state statutes including: FDCPA, California constitutions, United States District Courts, and United States Tax Code. The court ordered Transamerica to pay $6 million in damages to settle the case permanently. However, the company has already appealed the court’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. There are hopes that the high courts will uphold the decision to lower the amount of compensation that the class members should receive. If the plaintiffs do win their case and receive the payout that they deserve, the amount will be of no consolation to those who lost their lives in the Tri State area in 2021.