Originally created 05/27/98

Lawsuit claims policies are unfair to customers



A class action lawsuit has been filed against an Augusta area insurance company, alleging that an unfair business practice is cheating people.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Richmond County Superior Court is on behalf of Ora Lee Green and others who have life insurance policies with the Independent Life and Accident Insurance Co.

According to the lawsuit, Ms. Green obtained a $2,000 life insurance policy in October 1995 through the company, which has an office in the 900 block of 15th Street. To keep the policy, Ms. Green has to pay $6.38 each week, according to the lawsuit. So far, she has paid $836 for the industrial life insurance which will never pay more than $2,000 in benefits regardless of how much she pays in premiums, the lawsuit claims.

Industrial life insurance policies, which are policies worth $2,000 or less and for which weekly or monthly payments are required, are legal in Georgia. In order to sell such policies, the company must inform the customer in writing that "you may wish to compare the total cost of this insurance policy with your net income," under state law. The law also requires the company to provide a customer with an exact copy of the policy, and include a statement signed by customer and seller that such was done, according to the lawsuit.

The suit contends policyholders are paying more in premiums than they can hope to receive in benefits, and that the company fails to advise people.

Attorney Harry Revell said hundreds if not thousands of people might have bought policies like Ms. Green in the past six years. The lawsuit seeks to recover the total she and others have paid in premiums in the past six years, he said. That statute of limitations on contracts is six years.

A lawsuit represents only one side of a dispute. A telephone call to the Independent Life and Insurance Co. was not answered late Tuesday afternoon.