Remember the news regarding The Hartford Group Life Insurance and Aetna Life Insurance offering expedited payment on life insurance claims within 48 hours and access to round-the-clock funeral planning services? How can they do that?
Both companies work with Everest Funeral Planning, an independent consumer advocate providing funeral planning and concierge services. Everest works with big group life carriers like The Hartford and Aetna and provide their services as a benefit to their group life clients. They also work with individual life carriers and service individual policies.
“The historic problem with all life insurance policies is that they require a death certificate and that takes time to get,” said Everest President and CEO Mark Duffey. “They’ll get the money eventually, but the funeral home, the cemetery, the monument marker company all want to be paid now. So the survivors end up scrambling around to family, friends, credit cards, all of the above to try to get the thing taken care of, and it can be very, very frustrating.”
The reason the insurance companies can provide a death benefit payment within 48 hours is Everest’s involvement. Rather than wait weeks or months for an official death certificate from the state, a funeral director certificate through Everest is accepted right away.
“The big announcement with Hartford and Aetna is really a game-changer in the life insurance industry,” Duffey explained. “To get rid of using the death certificate and go to a funeral director’s certificate, which is a program that we run for them and we actually recommended and put into place, we think is a big game-changer, because when people realize that one insurance policy can pay in as little as 48 hours and the other one may take 48 days, it’s pretty simple about which one I’m going to want.”
Everest is a great resource for the consumer, because they have online planning tools, reference guides, and the PriceFinder database that they constantly update over the course of the year with hundreds of thousands of calls to funeral homes. By Federal Trade Commission rules, funeral homes are required to give them the information.
In addition, Everest has three call centers with live people manning the phones 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The phone is always answered by a live person, never a recording. Duffey explained, “We don’t know if you’re calling to change an address or saying ‘I just walked in the house, my husband’s laying dead on the floor, what do I do?’ So we’ve got to be able to handle all that.”
Duffey said, “All the funeral homes in the United States know who we are, because we call them regularly to get their information. So they know that we’re not competitors, there are no fees related to us, we’re about as unbiased as you could be. At the end of the day, we want our clients, both the big insurance companies and the individuals who have the insurance, to be happy with the service that they got.”
“It’s a pretty big undertaking, no pun intended, for an insurance company to change a process that’s been around for 200 years, to go and process claims this way, but they’ve both done it and I think it’s pretty exciting,” concluded Duffey.