For Professionals: Medicare Fraud and Abuse

Insurance Agents Trained to Take Advantage of Seniors

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Published: June 30, 2010

Agents for Bankers Life and Casualty, a prominent 100-year-old insurance giant, were caught on tape training new recruits how to take advantage of the elderly.

Photo from Inside Edition

Inside Edition video report

A report produced by Inside Edition, an American news magazine, has prompted the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging to launch an investigation into the company’s practices.

Among the many questionable sales pitches used by these trained agents, one is calling on seniors to sell them Medicare supplemental insurance (Medigaps), yet switching the subject to annuities as soon as they arrive. Consumers report that agents often push them to invest their life savings into a company account, which can sometimes tie up their money well beyond their life expectancy. This is exactly what happened to one woman, 81 year-old Rose Hosfold of Northern California. The agent who came to her home didn’t even mention Medicare, and instead convinced her to invest close to $75,000 in a Bankers Life and Casualty account that won’t mature until 2019. Now she can’t access this money, left by her deceased husband for her to live off of, without paying steep penalties.

As seen on Inside Edition’s undercover video, agents were told to think of themselves as “buzzards” and the elderly as their “prey.” They also told trainers to play on the fears of seniors, particularly their fear of confinement to a nursing home. “You need to actually put them in the nursing home,” said one trainer. “You need to almost bring them to tears,” said another. A trainer even encouraged the company’s agents to drive elderly clients to the bank to close a deal.

This national, well-known company is based in Chicago. The training sessions caught on tape by Inside Edition were held in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company has said it does not condone the depicted practices and is “conducting a thorough investigation of the issues raised by this report.”

View the full video online.

See our Medicare Fraud section for more information on fraud and abuse and who to contact for assistance.

This article was edited in part from Inside Edition’s report.

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