Connecticut officials are looking into complaints that Bankers Life & Casualty Company used unfair sales and marketing tactics in selling Medicare supplement policies and other insurance products to seniors.
The complaints allege that Bankers Life agents showed up uninvited at seniors’ homes and gave misleading information about their certifications, according to a report in the Hartford Courant.
Bankers Life, a unit of Conseco Inc., Carmel, Ind., specializes in selling a variety of insurance policies to seniors.
State officials declined to comment on the case except to confirm that they were looking into the allegations.
A Conseco spokeswoman said she was not familiar with specific allegations mentioned in the Courant but contended the company works to resolve all complaints in the state.
“We take all complaints seriously and are in contact with the Insurance Department about them in the normal course of business,” said the spokeswoman, Barbara Ciesemier.
State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says his department may undertake a joint investigation of the complaints with the state insurance department, the newspaper reported.
According to one allegation, a company producer represented that she was licensed by the state as a “senior advisor,” a designation that is recognized by an industry group but not granted by the state, officials pointed out. The producer is licensed by the state as an agent, they acknowledged.
The Insurance Department said it received 20 complaints against Bankers Life since January 2004 about Bankers Life sales practices and believed six of them were justified, according to the Courant. Of the six, four had been sent to the department within the past three months.
The complaints involved long term care insurance, Medicare supplement and an annuity.
One industry analyst called the newspaper account “overblown” and pointed out the Connecticut Insurance Department had yet to take any disciplinary action against either Bankers Life or its agents.
The analyst, Andrew Kligerman of UBS Investment Research, New York, said department officials told him there is no “formal” investigation of the company or its agents.
“The CID’s consumer affairs division is looking into these matters–as they normally do when there is an increase in complaints,” Kligerman said in a note to investors.
“In our view, [Conseco] needs to control its Bankers agents’ approaches more closely,” Kligerman commented. “But we also think that market reaction to the Connecticut complaint issue is overdone.”
Following the Courant report Sept. 27, the market price of Conseco stock fell from about $21.50 to $20 before recovering to about $21.25 late in the day.
The CID is considering a request by Bankers Life for rate increases on its Medicare supplement policies ranging from 4.5% to 30%.