How to stir up your insurance company

How to stir up your insurance company When we bought our first house, about 5 years ago, we didn't have much cash and went for a 95% loan. Because of this, the bank made us get life insurance - which we didn't really want, but didn't have much choice. Now that we have kids, it's a worthwhile thing to have, but at the time is was yet another new expense that we had to deal with.

I'm overweight, and the insurance company wanted to do a full medical checkup before they would insure me. A doctor came over to my house and interrogated me, held me by the balls while I coughed, then took 15-20 goes at trying to find my blood vessels to take a blood sample. Literally - he just kept jabbing the needle into my arm, muttering about how hard it was to do. I was ready to kill him, then someone suggested I go to the local nurse for a blood sample - she got it right first time, bless her.

After all that, turns out I have really high cholesterol plus a whole lot of other things wrong that I didn't understand; such as uric acid and liver function - and the insurance company turbo-charged my premiums as a result. I have been unhappily paying them each month since.

So, now it's 2009, and over the past 15 months I have been busting ass doing lots of exercise and eating properly, and I'm 20kg (44lb) smaller as a result. It's not miracle weight loss stuff, but I'm pretty pleased with the result and definitely looking and feeling better. A few weeks back, we were selling stuff on TradeMe and noticed a SureSlim voucher for sale - these normally go for $1000, but we picked it up for $100 which is a bit of a bargain. I didn't really need SureSlim as I'm doing ok by myself, but I figured a bit of professional nutritional help wouldn't be wasted.

Sureslim required another blood test before we could started.

Blood test results

So I get the results back, and it looks good. Cholesterol is waaaay down (still higher than normal, but a massive improvement) and all the other things they check for are within normal limits.

So the first thing I do is phone the insurance company to sort those premiums out. I email them the blood test results, and tell them what I did to reduce the cholesterol. And this is where it gets interesting.

You see, I BCCed a copy to a competing insurance company, to make sure I wasn't getting done. Turns out, I am. Current insurance company are charging $97 per month, and the quote from competing company is about $30. Hmmm.

I'm currently in negotiations with the existing company - but in order to get them to look at my premiums, I need to complete a mountain of paperwork. I said I would print, scan and email the form (I don't own a fax) but it's 25 frikin pages - my scanner doesn't have a sheet feeder.
In order to sign up for competing company, I also need to complete a mountain of paperwork, so this isn't something I can avoid.

Here's the bit that surprises me though - My current provider actually wants my business. Normally with these faceless behemoths you tell the call-centre person that you are looking at going with another provider, and they couldn't be less interested. However in this case, I have had phone calls + emails from 4 different people trying to keep me happy. I managed to get their attention.

It seems that my case is moving further and further up the food chain, but nobody has any authority to actually do anything without the mountain of paperwork being returned. But it's nice to know they are trying their best.

What I think

Here's my take on all this - it's not about price, it's about respect. They have been enjoying my triple-charged premium for years, and now it's my turn. I have worked really hard to lose the weight that I have, and if the insurance company wants me to jump through further hoops, fuck them.

Part of the weight-loss process is getting a new outlook on life - you feel better, you look better, and you are confident again. The healthy food fuels you with more energy and zest than ever before, and dealing with this shit is now easy. When it comes to negotiating life insurance, you are no longer on the back foot and can start demanding what you want.

I am in control - and when Sureslim do another blood test in 6 weeks time, I'm likely to have even more leverage to work with. I'm contemplating my next move - this is one monthly bill I'm really excited about lightening up.
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