Insurer Practices/Profits

Consumer Federation Urges National Association of Insurance Commissioners to Examine AFLAC Denials of Aviation Death Claims

The Honorable Sandy Praeger
Kansas Department of Insurance
420 SW 9th Street
Topeka, KS 66612-1678

Dear President Praeger,

It has come to our attention that AFLAC is routinely denying claims for accidental death in aircraft accidents. The frequency with which these denials have occurred raises serious questions about the fairness and validity of the insurance product involved.

I attach an eleven-year history of such claims filed with AFLAC. As you will note, of the 45 claims that were filed, only five received payment and two of those were paid as an exception — the insurer claimed there was no coverage but paid something anyway. Of the claims that were paid, only two were paid for the higher common carrier benefit and three for the lower benefit for non common carrier accidents.

There can be no doubt that air crash deaths are usually accidental. The questions that the attached data raise are very serious ones. It is reasonable to ask whether the accidental death benefit for air crashes provided for under AFLAC’s accidental death policies is illusory if the policies are written in an ambiguous way that allows AFLAC an unreasonable amount of discretion to deny claims that might otherwise be paid. If even a few of the denials are justified under the terms of these policies, shouldn’t the policies be rewritten to pay more routinely for accidental air crash death when it occurs?

I request that the NAIC take a look at this provision in accident policies to determine why such a high percentage of estates receive nothing for accidental deaths that they have suffered. I have taken the liberty of sending a copy of this letter to the insurance commissioner in Georgia (AFLAC’s home state) and in states where people lived or bought AFLAC policies that resulted in denial of aviation death claims.

Yours Very Truly,

J. Robert Hunter
Director of Insurance

Cc: Insurance commissioners of AL, AK, AR, CA, FL, GA, ID, KS, KY, LA, MT, NC, ND, NV, OH, OK, OR, SD, TX, UT, WI, WY, VA; NAIC National Office