Insurer restores coverage of woman with dementia who made mistake on check

Maybe it’s only coincidence, but the gigantic insurer AIG has had a change of heart on the insurance coverage it provided to Madeleine Maldonado, 87, the Massachusetts woman who lost it when she wrote the wrong words on her check.

As mentioned on NewsCut earlier this week, Maldonado, who has dementia, wrote the correct numbers on her check for $3,399.91, her premium for her long-term care coverage. But she wrote the wrong words on the check.

And that was enough of a technicality for AIG to cancel the coverage.

Her daughter, Carey Peabody, tried everything for a year to get the insurance company to have a heart, even enlisting the Massachusetts attorney general.

But nothing changed until the Boston Globe ran the story.

Like I said: maybe coincidence.

“Our priority is to honor our commitments to customers like the Maldonado family, and we work hard to ensure that every claim is handled fairly,” AIG said in a statement. “Once the issue was raised to the attention of senior management, we reviewed the case and made the decision to reinstate the policy.”

That’s exactly the opposite of what her daughter found. Over the course of her fight, she said the higher up she went in the corporation, the more hard-hearted the response.

“I appreciate AIG reopening the case for review and changing its determination to give us the insurance,” her daughter tells the Globe. “But frankly, we never should have been in this position. I spent more than a year pleading my case, and brought in the attorney general, but only after my mother’s picture and story appeared on the front page of the newspaper did AIG really respond.”

“She really didn’t understand how much of a big deal it was until it was in the paper,” Peabody said. “Then she was pretty disheartened, thinking she had really dropped the ball. But now there’s a happy ending to this story.”

AIG says it will waive the woman’s premiums for the last year to bring her coverage up to date.

  • Jeffrey Swainhart

    Insurance companies are basically parasites on our health care system. Raking money off the top and providing nearly zero value. They are the reason US health care costs are the highest in the world while our outcomes are 2nd world quality.

  • AL287

    Appearances are everything in business.

    I do think the negative exposure by the Boston Globe and the memory of the bailout by taxpayers forced their hand.

    You can lose a lot of new business when a story like this goes viral as they invariably do in the age of instant news. It’s the impression, “If they did that to her, what are they going to do to me?”

    The current healthcare debate in the Senate with many consumers facing the threat of no insurance coverage or unaffordable premiums for healthcare coverage helped things along as well.

    I’m just very glad Mrs. Maldonado got her policy reinstated. She’s going to need it once her dementia worsens and takes hold.

  • Postal Customer

    We need single-payer and we need it right now.

    >who lost it when she wrote the wrong words on her check.

    I would have “lost it” too.

  • Barb Stahlecker

    I’m in the LTC insurance business and have been for 30 years. I’ve seen thousands of people helped by these policies and many times the insurer has gone above and beyond to pay a claim. These actions by AIG are unacceptable and are the reason my industry get a bad name. Shame on them for acting so maliciously and shame on the upper level executives who wouldn’t help this poor woman. You guys should all be ashamed of yourselves. Glad I never represented your company.

  • Jack

    //wrote the correct numbers on her check for $3,399.91, her premium for her long-term care coverage. But she wrote the wrong words on the check.//

    I’m not defending the actions of AIG – far from it.

    Just for the record, words are the legal amount on the check, not the numbers. Financial institutions are bound to clear the check by the written word amount. For those really important checks, check and check again the amount you write before handing it over for payment.

    I remember messing up on a payment to Discover card years ago (shorted it by 10 cents) and we ended up with interest being assessed for a billing cycle before I saw it on the next bill. Not that I enjoy credit card companies, but I have to applaud the actions of Target (pre the credit card mess) when they waived late pay and interest when a check got delayed in the mail.

    Paying on-line and opting for the preset amounts that companies list, help cut down on these type of errors. I’m late to the show in the on-line payment world but now can’t live without it.

    • Barton

      I made this mistake on a mortgage payment once. Left off about 56 dollars. The mortgage company didn’t even bother cashing the check, they just sent it back to me, but with a letter giving me 3 weeks to get in the correct payment before a late charge would be assessed.

      I went to on-line direct debits after that, as I was certain I’d mess up again.

  • jon

    We all need our own personal news media to cover when businesses and corporations screw people over…
    Negative publicity with people who aren’t their customers, and full on lawsuits are the only thing that corporations seem to react to…

    I was living in an apartment building in november when the management company announced they were going to turn off the boiler for maintenance, for a week, no hot water, not heat for the building, in november… they changed their plans after KARE 11 ran a story on it.

    There are so many other organizations that have tried to (and some that have succeeded in) screwing me over… garages trying to sell me a brake jobs that I didn’t need, insurance companies rejecting legitimate claims, heck HSA’s rejecting legitimate claims, loan/credit card companies charging late fees for payments that they didn’t process in a timely fashion, defective products where the warranty wasn’t honored, and the class action lawsuit didn’t pay out enough to cover replacement…

    This happens all the time, and unless you can get it turned into a human interest story, or get a lawyer to contact the offending party, then they don’t stop, they keep pushing to milk every last bit out of every last person…

    We all need our own personal news media to report on every time that something like this happens.