February 17th, 2010
10:01 PM ET

There's logic. And then there's insurance company logic.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/09/16/health.medical.bills/art.bills.gi.jpg]

David Gewirtz | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Director, U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute

So I jumped through the looking glass the other day. I spoke to our insurance company. Although the woman I spoke to was very nice, I felt at times like I was talking more to the Mad Hatter than a respected insurance provider.

It all started last fall, when we got a notice that our company's insurance program was going to change with the new year. Our insurance company (one of the largest and best known), provided no further details. After calling our agent and the company itself, all we were able to determine was this change was "normal" and our billing process might be delayed.

OK, fine. Was our rate going up? No idea. Did we file too many claims? No idea. Were we in some sort of coverage limbo? No idea.

So, we waited. And it turns out, our coverage was fine and our rate even went down by seven bucks.

Then came the conversation.

We hadn't gotten a bill for a while and that started to worry us. I drew the short straw, so I had to make the call. The conversation went like this.

David: Hi, I'm calling because we haven't gotten our bill in a while.

InsCo: Oh, yes, I show you're late making your payment.

David: Wow, we do our best to be on time, when did you send the bill?

InsCo: Last night.

David: Last night? I thought you said we were late.

InsCo: You are. About three weeks. Don't worry, though. If you pay us within the week, it'll be fine. Although you should make sure you make your payments on time.

David: We usually do. But this time, you told us our rate would change, and we should wait until we got the bill. I'm a little worried, because that bill never came.

InsCo: Yes, that's right.

David: So how could we be late if we didn't know our rate?

InsCo: Well, that's your responsibility.

David: OK, so can I pay over the phone? I can give you a credit card or use a check.

InsCo: We'll take a check. Please hold.

[I wait for five minutes]

InsCo: I'm sorry, we can't accept a check from you now.

David: Why not? Is there something wrong with our account?

InsCo: Oh, no. It's just that since we only issued your bill last night, our system isn't set up yet to accept payment.

David: Um, okay. So what should I do to make sure you're paid?

InsCo: Well, I can fax you your bill and you can send a check in as soon as you get it.

David: Well, that seems fair, but I want to make sure you get it in time, so our company's insurance isn't disrupted.

InsCo: Oh, you don't want to be late. We frown on late payments.

And, other than a few pleasantries about the weather, the conversation was over. I awaited the fax.

I got a fax from the nice insurance woman few hours later. It said, "I can't generate the bill yet. It's still too soon. But make sure you pay on time."


What about you? Have you experienced insurance company logic from your insurance provider? Comment below.

Follow David on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz.

Editor’s note: David Gewirtz is Director of the U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute and Editor-in-Chief of the ZATZ magazines. He is a leading Presidential scholar specializing in White House email. He is a member of FBI InfraGard, the Cyberterrorism Advisor for the International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals, a columnist for The Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, and has been a guest commentator for the Nieman Watchdog of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. He is a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley extension, a recipient of the Sigma Xi Research Award in Engineering and was a candidate for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Letters.

Filed under: David Gewirtz • Health Care
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Paul

    You really do need to set up a committee and find a better insurance provider. They obviously have some gaping holes in their system and where there is smoke there is fire! Look out for other "Lapses".

    February 18, 2010 at 2:05 am |
  2. carol

    I believe our country has lost its common sense.

    February 18, 2010 at 1:05 am |
  3. Lawrence

    Insurance Companies control this Nation, by paying, off the Crooks and Cheats on the Hill. Follow the money trail,....Print who, is giving the money and who, is taking the money, or should I say, who is selling thier Souls, and my cash flow. Health insurance, home insurance, car insurance, and death insurance $$$$$.

    February 18, 2010 at 1:02 am |
  4. Michele Bales

    About a year ago I went through the exact same thing...very well named insurance company also. The operator that I spoke to seemed almost robotic.

    February 17, 2010 at 9:09 pm |
  5. Monika

    HAHA!!!! I laughed at the insanity of this. I've had some strange and totally frustrating phone conversations but nothing quite like this.

    But here is something down the same line: I just checked my 3 credit reports today. On the one from Transunion, one of my mortgage accounts is listed as 120 days overdue – in July and August 2010!!! And I paid off that account in full in September 2009!!!!! Someone needs to explain that to me!

    February 17, 2010 at 9:05 pm |
  6. Annie Kate

    As long as you pay and don't expect them to pay you for claims, then everything will be fine. Insurance talk is a lot like political talk – a lot of words and very little sense.

    February 17, 2010 at 9:04 pm |
  7. Tony Horne

    Wow.That should be made illegal

    February 17, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
  8. nativegrl77

    wow, wonder how much you have accumulated in late fees

    February 17, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
  9. susan

    An Insurance Company is NEVER wrong. It's part of that Catch 22.

    And people think we don't need reform and regulation!

    February 17, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
  10. patricia

    What company doesn't frown on late payments? Why even say that? Totally rude!

    February 17, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  11. Rebecca, Louisville, KY

    That was like a conversation lifted straight out of "Catch-22." Is your middle name, by any chance, Yossarian?

    February 17, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  12. Joy Kenney

    I have no idea how some companies stay in business. This does not make me feel secure about the future. Did she not have a supervisor to speak to?

    February 17, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  13. Alfonso

    Do you think this type of abuse happens only with insurance companies? I bet not.

    February 17, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  14. Jason

    would you call logic, rhetoric and standards base on statistical probability???

    February 17, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  15. Mireille

    I sounds as though they are looking for an excuse to stop coverage. I wonder how many people they did that to. You can afford your insurance (I'm assuming), you are well known, and most importantly... you followed up. A lot of people wouldn't, they would wait. So what happens when the average "Joe" who might be somewhat of a "risk" or not, if he forgets to follow up? Then coverage stopped because "you didn't pay on time". You are assuming "bad logic"... could it be more than that?

    February 17, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  16. Tim Gibson

    As long as they get your money, is that the bottom line.

    February 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm |