September is Life Insurance Month. The Union Labor Life Insurance Company (Union Labor Life), a subsidiary of Ullico Inc., has a tradition of providing life insurance expertise and experience to the union workplace. We asked Vice President Stephanie Whalen to tell us more.
To some extent, everybody needs life insurance, but I think your early working years, until your children are in college, is a prime time. If a family loses their source of income when they are very much in need, it can be catastrophic. Life insurance is meant to be an income replacement for a period of time, to buffer the blow of a loss.
We have different distribution lines. Our first is what we were founded on—our group term life insurance. Essentially, a health and welfare fund or a union will provide their members this benefit. Other types of life insurance benefits that we offer are through our supplemental market. Those vary depending on the family's need, and we market that through direct mail. The other piece, which is just now launching, is through our private exchange, which gives union members the ability to go shop for insurance on the exchange to ensure their potential loss is covered.
Customer service. One story I tell people is about the Sandy Hook tragedy. Two teachers who lost their lives were covered through a group life insurance policy issued to their union. We worked with the beneficiaries to expedite payments of the claims knowing these families needed the proceeds of the policies right away. Within three days of receiving completed claim forms, we immediately sent checks out to each of the beneficiaries. It was huge customer service on our part.
We have had instances where we have verification of an insured death but we are unable to locate the beneficiary that has been named on the policy. Often times those proceeds are required to be remitted to the state as abandoned property. In one particular case I was able to locate the beneficiary through the powers of the internet and informed them of a $25,000 benefit. They had just finished college and were in debt, and now they had this benefit they didn't even know about. So, going above and beyond is what we do in the union market, because we understand unions. These are our brothers and sisters, so we're focused on serving them.
The 'strike waiver' is important, because you don't find that in most mainstream policies. It's there for when we need it, which has been less often than previously. You don't pay a premium if you're on an authorized strike. The other differentiator is our accidental death and dismemberment benefit. If a member is killed on the job, the benefit doubles. So if a worker has an AD&D policy that's $25,000 through our group benefit, and he or she is killed on the job, that benefit doubles to $50,000.
The question we always get is 'how soon before I get my money?' From a claims perspective, we do our very best to make it as seamless as possible. For our group insurance, the fund office provides the claims form and certifies eligibility. Contact your fund office and let them know the death has occurred. Make sure you have the proper paperwork and a certified death certificate. Once we have all that information, it's a 'clean' claim, and we can turn things around pretty quickly.