AMP Income Protection
Around twenty years ago I took out income protection, trauma, and life insurance that after a variety of corporate mergers and take overs rested with AMP. Following an unexpected event that I never contemplated at the time of taking out the insurances it was suggested I ask my insurance broker whether the income protection policy had been triggered. Whilst the paper work required a lot of detail and one more thing I did not need to weigh on my mind at the time, I appreciated the fact that I needed to validate the issues with my health as I was putting my hand out to receive an income stream. Because this was some time after I was injured and had everything I needed to submit with the application AMP were able to quickly decide on the claim and much to my surprise backdate the payments as well. My broker at Two Mile Bay PL who had seen similar cases was also very supportive through the process and since. Paying the hefty monthly premiums year on year was difficult in itself and for a large part meant the family could never take a fancy holiday every few years like our friends, or reduce the credit card bill etc. Like most of us paying any insurance premiums I thought this personal insurance would never be called on, I still wish this was the case. However like the rare chance of winning Tattslotto there are those amongst us who will randomly draw the short straw and will encounter an adverse event. Without AMP Income Protection I would not have had the recovery period I needed and financially we would be in a very poor position that would have taken a decade or more to recover from. In my 50's this would not have been a pleasant prospect to face into. The income protection has allowed the home loan payments, school fees, house insurances and more to all continue unchanged while my partner works to pay the other of life's necessities like food on the table and many other bills. Financially life continues almost as before (i.e. no superannuation contributions) which has been a great relief allowing me to recover and family life to continue without worry. Despite the sacrifices in years gone by to pay the premiums, I would recommend to anyone to take out some level of income protection where you are low on savings and or have debt and or have a family to care for, because any amount of assistance goes a long way in difficult times. And like the extremely rare event of your house burning down, you just do not know how your health will stand up over your income producing years and whether it will be you who will draw the short straw of misfortune. Thank you to the people who are AMP and to my broker for the support I have received.
Think Twice before Taking Out AMP Income Protection
I’ve had a life-long association with AMP that began when I was just 2 days old with an endowment policy my parents purchased and then gifted to me on my 21st Birthday. Soon after, I invested in another AMP product and cashed in the policy my parents gave me and used the payout for the deposit on a loan; making AMP instrumental to the realisation of a dream - owning my own home.
From this experience and its reputation, I came to respect, admire and trust AMP. So, despite the cost, when my Financial Adviser recommended AMP Income Protection Insurance; I agreed without hesitation. Now, AMP income protection insurance doesn’t come cheap but if you believe what’s appears on their website and the video staring a pencil drawn Alastair, it’s a financial lifeline you cannot afford to be without if the unexpected should happen.
I held the policy for 12 years and had paid AMP approx. $90,000 in premiums when the unexpected did happen and I became the victim of a brutal crime. As a result, I suffered from clinically diagnosed acute PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and was declared medically unfit and unable to work. But, instead of a financial lifeline, AMP did everything possible to minimise their exposure and find a reason to reject my claim. Through their actions, AMP worsened my condition, undermined my recovery and plunged me into a financial crisis from which I may never fully recover.
Struggling to make it through each day, the policy never entered my consciousness. It’s therefore hardly surprising I didn’t think to tell AMP about the incident. But, I did think to call my Financial Adviser – he was an Agent of AMP and the person who sold me the policy for which he was paid a yearly commission.
We met at a café near my home where I explained in detail what had happened and the events that followed. Despite hearing all this, learning that I was receiving weekly therapy by 2 clinical psychologists and witnessing the onset of a panic attack, he did nothing. He made no attempt to determine how I was coping and made no mention of AMP or the policy. Instead, he simply wished me well with my recovery. There was no follow up from our meeting, not even a call to check on my condition and progress.
To make matters worse, he neglected to explain the policy or provided any information on its terms or conditions. This amounted to a serious breach of his duties and responsibilities as an Agent of AMP and meant I was totally ignorant of the policy detail. Deeply traumatised, unable to work and without a source of income, left no option but to draw on my savings to survive. It was not until 6 months later that I learnt a claim should have been raised with AMP immediately after the incident. Despite knowing of the urgency and that I was losing more than $650 a day, my Financial Adviser (an Agent of AMP) took another 4 weeks to raise the claim and by the time it was acknowledged I had lost more than $120,000 of income.
Although the initial response by AMP to my claim appeared to be empathetic and reassuring, the Company’s behaviour beggars’ belief.
After acknowledging my claim, two weeks passed without a word. So, I called only to discover that AMP had sold 60% of my policy to a 3rd party insurer who they now blamed for the delay. Then after a further 2 weeks of silence the assessor telephoned both my Financial Adviser and I to tell us AMP had approved my claim and monthly payment of benefits would commence immediately as a goodwill gesture in absence of the 3rd party’s approval. I was then asked to present my case for benefits to be paid in relation to the initial 6 months after the incident.
After saying the claim was approved and that no further documentation was required, AMP then demanded access to my entire medical history (all consultation notes, details of every test and their results along with a record every script). This was not only demanded for the 12 years I held the policy, but for the 15 years that proceeding it. I was later falsely accused of refusing this request and this was used as justification to terminated payments without notice.
With the ongoing delays, my financial position deteriorated, forcing me to file a complaint against AMP with FOS (Financial Ombudsman Service). I then learnt that FOS is not a real Ombudsman but an industry funded service that doesn’t advocate for consumers, has limited authority and has no real power. Meanwhile, AMP went on trawling through my medical history in a desperate effort to find a reason to reject my claim.
On the advice of FOS, I engaged a lawyer and the battle with AMP went on for another 10 months without progress. During this time, deadlines set for AMP came and went while they continued to make false accusations without proof or evidence and then terminate payments without notice. AMP withheld funds for up to 12 weeks with full knowledge this would cause me to default on loans. It was a strategy employed to force me into signing an agreement that limit their exposure. It was only with the help of family and friends that I could survive without capitulating.
Then came news that AMP had rejected my claim for payment of benefits relating to the first 6 months, asserting that I failed to meet all policy conditions.
• AMP refused to acknowledge this was due to the failure of their Agent (my Financial Adviser).
• Despite my stay in hospital and 37 appointments with Doctors and Clinical Psychologists, AMP asserted that I was not under proper medical care.
Instead of the support promised and expected, AMP displayed total disregard for my wellbeing, deliberately added to my suffering and took decision with full knowledge their actions would cause financial hardship and threaten my recovery.
More recently, changes at the top of AMP have facilitated nothing short of a revolution in the culture and conduct of its employees. However, it still takes 8 to 12 weeks for AMP to process the required documentation for a claim and for payment to be received. In addition, I continue to suffer financial stress because of AMP’s refusal to pay any benefits relating to the first 6 months after the incident and the effect this has had on my savings.