On April 25th, a class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California against Transamerica Life Insurance Company. The suit was filed on behalf of an insured, her daughter, and “all others similarly situated” who were affected “by an unlawful and excessive increase in their monthly deduction rates.”
The suit notes that Transamerica announced an increase in monthly deduction rates of “as much as 38% for certain universal life insurance policies.” (NOTE: In an earlier blog [see: Transamerica Cost of Insurance Increases: Is the Other Shoe Now Dropping?], ITM TwentyFirst documented a Transamerica deduction increase of almost 100%.) The suit goes on to say that the increase “forces a Hobson’s Choice on policyholders: either pay exorbitant premiums that cannot be justified by the ultimate death benefits of the policy, or just surrender the policy and walk away from years of premium payments.”
The policy in question is a $500,000 TransMax Survivor policy issued in May of 1991. The policy is subject to a monthly deduction rate increase of 21%, which was spelled out in a letter received in March of 2016 by the policy’s owner/beneficiary (the insured’s daughter).
As in the previous case filed in California against Transamerica (see: Consumer Group Files Suit Against Transamerica for Cost of Insurance Increases), the suit references the guaranteed crediting rate on the policy. This suit alleges that Transamerica breached the contract terms with the policy increase “in order to avoid its obligation to credit the guaranteed interest rates under the policies” and noted “Transamerica’s investment returns are insufficient to support the policies’ guaranteed 5.5% rate” and they are attempting to offset the guarantee “through higher monthly deductions taken from the policyholders’ accumulation accounts.”
As also alleged in the previous suit, this suit maintains that Transamerica, by raising deductions, was attempting to entice policy holders to drop their coverage, to “shed policies by making the premium payments cost-prohibitive for policyholders.”
The class action lawsuit is open to both California and non-California residents, though some aspects of the case are relevant only to California residents, including an action for a violation of the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act.
The action seeks the reinstatement of all policies “cancelled or surrendered as a result of the rate increase” and calls for “enjoining Transamerica, its representatives and agents, from using monthly deduction rates based on the rate increase and from charging excessive monthly deduction rates.”
We at ITM TwentyFirst will be tracking this case. For a copy of the lawsuit, email mbrohawn@itm21st.com