On October 4, 2017, The American General Life Insurance Company sent me two claims packets notifying me of a benefit from my grandmother’s policy. My name was correctly spelled on one packet, and almost correctly spelled on the second, but with an “e” substituted for a “y”. My grandmother had four grandchildren, including me, and we are the beneficiaries of both policies. These were signed by “B M Graves, Claims Manager. I did not receive this first packet until December 4 as it was kept by family, and by then they had sent me another packet, The second set of packets, dated 60 days later, on December 4, 2017, were identical except that they were each entitled “Second Notice,” and again, both listed my name correctly. I had not known of this policy, and called the company’s 800 number to find out how to complete the claim forms properly. I did so, and submitted both claim forms, along with those of the other members of my family – they were sent in one package by my aunt, with the other required proofs, including the death certificate. The company representative I spoke with on the phone told me that the claims take 5 business days to process once they receive the documents, so I called to confirm receipt. They confirmed receipt of the documents on December 11, 2017. On that call, I provided my birth date, social security number, the contract numbers of my grandmother’s policies, and the representative released the benefit totals for both contracts to me. One contract benefit was a little over $2000, and the other was quite a bit more. I called again on the 18th, when the checks had not come, and the company representative promised they were being processed. The checks did not arrive as promised and on December 22, I called again to find out what had happened. At this time, representatives suddenly informed me that one of the claims, the larger of the two otherwise identical claims, included my ex-husband’s name, Vollrath, as a hyphenated add-on to mine. When I asked why, in all of their previous correspondence, American General failed to list my name with this addition, and why, when I confirmed receipt of all necessary documentation on December 11, their company claims representative duly confirmed receipt with no notification of any problems, the representative had no answer for me. He told me I must provide proof of a change of name, because, he said, they had suddenly found in ‘researching the file’ that my grandmother had made a change to my name on this policy. I explained that I had never changed my name after my marriage, and that my name was exactly as it was on my birth certificate, and wrote a letter confirming my legal name and providing two forms of government picture identification, my driver’s license and my passport. I then called again to confirm receipt of this documentation and the copies of American General’s own letters, written 60 days apart, listing my correct name as the beneficiary and instructing me to fill out the claim form as such. The representative confirmed receipt of all of these documents, confirmed that, nowhere on any of these documents was there any mention of my ex-husband’s name, and promised, in our recorded conversation, that the checks would be mailed out by express mail to me for arrival on January 3, 2017. I explained that our family is in a desperate financial situation and that my four children and I need these funds to pay legal fees and living costs and the American General Representative promised the checks would arrive by the morning of January 3rd. The smaller of the two checks arrived over the holidays, to an incorrect address, but the promised express mail package with the larger check did not arrive. When I called, the representative I spoke to, Dori Lantham, told me that my proof of identification was inadequate and I would need to get a letter, signed by two individuals not related to the estate and notarized, saying that the person American General now claimed to be the beneficiary of this policy did not exist. I stated that no one could swear someone did not exist, but that it was more than evident, from the fact that they paid one of the policies with the same four beneficiaries, including me, and repeatedly released information about the claim to me with my identifiers, and had written multiple claims packages to me with my correct name, that I am, well, me, and am the intended beneficiary. I explained that, other than my cousins, who are also beneficiaries, and my aunt and uncle, who are related to the estate by my aunt’s role as executor, no one else would know the details of my legal name, marriage, and divorce, as my other relatives have passed away. I asked what I could provide, and she asked for legal documentation of my name before and after marriage, which I immediately scanned and provided in the form of certified copies of my birth certificate, on which, notably, my mother’s last name is my grandmother’s last name, and a certified copy of my child’s birth certificate, on which my ex-husband attested to the accuracy of the document under notarized signature, and on which my last name did not include his, and a copy of my law degree, conferred after marriage in my sole legal name with no additional surname, and a copy of a court stamped document in my correct name from our divorce proceeding. When I did not hear back from Ms. Lantham, I called for her and was told she was not available and the next day, that her computer had unexpectedly broken down and she could not access the documents, but that Stacey Baker would handle my claim. She said she had the documents, but never called me back, or emailed. Our family is in a desperate situation. We are borrowing funds and staying with family and this is a perversion of the benefits the policy was intended to confer. We cannot afford legal help and find this appalling and unjust. We hope the company will immediately rectify this situation by simply providing our benefit check.
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