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Mimishu1995's avatar

Should my friend sign up for this company's life insurance?

Asked by Mimishu1995 (18086points) 3 weeks ago

My friend has a mental health condition that forces her to be on medication for life. Yesterday she messaged about a “secret”: she was signing up for a company’s life insurance because she wanted a safety net in case her disorder got out of hand. She wanted it to be a secret because her parents don’t believe in insurance They seems to be confusing insurance and government’s benefit, which they don’t have a good opinion about. I have never heard about that company before so I was naturally suspicious. I asked her where she got the name and she told me her art teacher recommended it to her, and she insisted that the woman wasn’t trying to sell anything which I don’t quite buy in because I don’t know the context of the conversation. And so far that woman was the only one who recommended it to her, which further made me suspicious.

The company’s name is Generali. You can easily find it on Wikipedia. It’s an Italian insurance company that caters for Europe and East Asia, according to Wikipedia. The problem is that so far that’s the only English website about the company that I could find. All other Google results are in Vietnamese. So my suspicion is now on the Vietnamese company and not the Italian one. This could be a company trying to use the fame of the Italian company for profit, but I don’t know.

Here’s what I found about the Vietnamese company so far.
– Most Vietnamese results are just ads about how great the company is. There is virtually no customer’s review. There was an article yesterday about the company winning some award, but that’s the only thing on the Internet that isn’t an ad.
– The company’s insurance services have extremely confusing name: “Confident Life package”, “Safe Life package”, “Optimistic Life package”... Their descriptions don’t help either, as they are so vague I still can’t understand how one service is different among another. They are all just the same “protect you from ill health” thing except for the “Golden Shield package” which is for preventing cancer.
– There was an article on the company’s fraud back in 2019. Basically they scammed someone’s money by manipulating their terms of service. But that article was copied from another website, and I can’t trace the original article.
– Their Youtube channel is so far the most bizarre. The channel has been around for years. The views of their videos fluctuate to the extreme: one video has more than 500k views, and the very next video has only 72 views. And most videos have no comment. But the videos from 3 months onward got insane amount of views and comments. Those videos are a series of badly acted shorts about how to raise a child or something. The company is listed in the credit as some sort of sponsor for that series. It looks extremely suspicious to me because the company advertises itself to be around since 2011, but was only getting attention 3 months ago.

I don’t know much about insurance apart from the most basic things so I can’t conclude anything. My friend said she has 21 days to consider the company’s policy, and this would involve a lot of money. I just can’t leave this alone if this turns out to be a scam, especially when she told me, at the end of the day, that she would sign up for her sister too if she is satifsied with the insurance.

Can you help me make sense of it?

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27 Answers

Nomore_lockout's avatar

I say steer clear of it. I know you mean well, but if you go ahead and recommend this outfit, and it DOES turn out to be a scam, you might end up losing a friend.

Jeruba's avatar

Life insurance doesn’t pay the policyholder anything. It doesn’t “protect you from ill health.” It pays somebody else (the beneficiary) when the policyholder dies. So your friend would not be protected from anything by a life insurance policy. Instead, when she dies, the money would go to whomever she named as the beneficiary (recipient of funds).

That assumes that it’s for real and there is an actual payout, or death benefit. This offer sounds pretty sketchy.

In general, if somebody is rushing you to buy anything, the wisest answer is no. If it’s legitimate, it’ll stick around.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Nomore From what I have with me right now, I don’t want to recommend it. In fact, it’s her who is in favor of the company right now and I could be the one trying to stop her :) But like I said, I don’t know about insurance so I don’t want to make any judgement right now.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

_Their descriptions don’t help either, as they are so vague I still can’t understand how one service is different among another. _

Legitimate insurance is a contract. The benefits and costs are spelled out very clearly.

From everything you describe, this does not sound like a reliable or trustworthy company.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I would not do it. All insurance companies are in business for their benefit. They profit by collecting money from many people and paying out a fraction of it. That includes large, legitimate ones.
Small companies can be worse. They are more prone to scams. For example, hey can suddenly go out of business and keep the money; they can declare bankruptcy when it is time to pay out; they can suddenly change the payout rules; their management can run off with the money; etc.
I’d recommend putting the money in a savings account.

Here is another tip-off. If the company keeps calling and trying to convince her to sign up, they are not legitimate. High pressure tactics are a clear sign of a scam.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Jeruba OK, so maybe I used the wrong word here, since the Vietnamese language just calls all kind of insurance “life insurance”. I think those things are “health insurance” because they cover hospital bills and stuff. Still doesn’t explain why the service packages have such strange names though.

@LuckyGuy It just happened yesterday so they haven’t called back yet. But she said they gave her 21 days to consider the policy and she is still waiting for their “policy papers” to arrive. Do you think this is also a sign of high pressure tactics?

janbb's avatar

Sounds sketchy and as someone who was involved in a family insurance agency for years, I believe in many forms of insurance. Life insurance, as @Jeruba said, is generally for payment to one’s beneficiary although there is a type of life insurance that can be seen as an investment. If this is more of a health insurance policy, it should be clearly spelled out. I would offer to look over the literature with her and help her to decide if she wants you to.

I don’t know about your healthcare system. Do you have universal heathcare in Vietnam? If so, a supplement may not be necessary at all. In any case, I would recommend she consult with an independent insurance agent if they exist in your country. One who deals with many companies and who can advise her on what is best for her personally.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@janbb The Vietnamese government has their own kind of “health insurance”. Basically you pay a certain amount of money to your school/workplace/province every month, then when you are sick the government will take care of the bills. It’s much cheaper and straightforward than the insurance offered by private companies, but there are people who think it’s bad because of the cheap price. For some reason my friend’s parents ran into trouble with this system, according to her she didn’t clarify further, so they have a distaste for all insurance. She also said she “worked” for a well-known insurance company before, so she is quite sure this company is good. I highly doubt she has thought through her decision though, she can be very emotional when it comes to decision, and like I said, I don’t have enough evidence to believe the company is legitimate.

I’m not sure an “insurance agent” exists in Vietnam, but then again I don’t know much about insurance. But the fact that my friend jumped straight into the company without consulting anyone even with her “knowledge” of insurance could mean there isn’t a good insurance agent.

I would offer to look over the literature with her and help her to decide if she wants you to.

I asked her to send the policy papers to me so that we can discuss and come up with the final decision. I can offer you a translation of the papers when it comes :)

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Mimishu1995 The papers supplied will always look good. It does not matter if the company is real or a scam. Usually even a legitimate company will have a disclaimer stating they can change the rules.

janbb's avatar

In America, there are business databases and resources such as Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s where you can look up companies and find out their ratings and reliability. That might be an approach you can take. If you go to a good research library, you might be able to get help doing a search.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@LuckyGuy oh God I didn’t know that! So it means that I won’t be able to find anything in the papers?

@janbb I think I have the same thing in Vietnam. There’s no rating though, but every business has to register in that database to be considered legal. So I looked the company up and the database gave me a link, to a gift store maintained by the company! I can’t access the website because it needs registration. I don’t know the purpose of this website. I don’t see a link for it on their main website, and it seems to be hosted by a different company, but they still maintain that it’s for customers of the insurance.

I don’t know what to think anymore…

janbb's avatar

@Mimishu1995 It all sounds very fishy.

longgone's avatar

Generali is a legit company. It’s well-known around here. However, that doesn’t mean signing up with them is a good idea. For insurance, it’s always advisable to look for independent reviews.

Have you tried googling “Generali scam” in Vietnamese? I just did that for the German term, and I’m getting overwhelmingly terrible customer reviews. They don’t pay out, spend months putting you off, and have just sold large chunks of their company (leading to suspicions that they might not be able to pay for much longer). However, I also found a seemingly independent and positive review about their health insurance, specifically (which is handled by a branch of Generali called “Central” in Germany).

Here’s a translated page of reviews.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@longgone I did google that, and there was no result. Like I said, most Vietnamese results are ads, except for that fraud article which may or may not be true. There is really no independent review. That’s why I’m so confused.

I’m not suspicious of the Italian Generali. I’m more suspicious of the Vietnamese one.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

I don’t know what to think anymore…

From the little I see in this thread, there is no reason to trust the offer.

If the only web presence is advertising, they have not built any reputation. Buying insurance is betting that the company will be around to pay. In the US, big insurance companies typically have long histories, and they are easy to research.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Update: I accidentally found their terms of service papers on their website. The journey to get there was a mess. So I clicked on the “Document” section, and they listed a bunch of related links to each of their service package. Some required you to provide your email so that they could forward it to you. One link was broken. What cracked me up was that my friend signed up for the “Confident Life” package, but the supposed terms of service for her package was in a link to a “Completely Carefree 2020” package :D The terms of service that I found were general statements for all services. This further made the package names pointless to me.

@janbb, do you want to look through it?

janbb's avatar

@Mimishu1995 I was more in the administrative side of the business so I don’t really have expertise in examining policies so I don’t think it would do much good. From everything you’ve written here though, this sounds really fishy. If I were you, I would advise your friend not to enroll with this company.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@janbb thank you. I already made up my mind yesterday. But because you told me earlier about the terms of service, I just wanted to follow up to you. I think I have enough evidence to convince my friend that the insurance isn’t worth it.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Update #2 (and a rant): so I presented my friend with all the evidence I gathered, from how the advertising is intentionally misleading to the terms of service is too different from the ads (things like how you have to be above 75 for all the health and life insurance to work), as well as the various odd things on the Internet I included @longgone‘s German reviews too. She was convinced at first that the insurance wasn’t worth it, and I even pointed her to a much more reputable company she could use if she was that into insurance. But a few minutes ago she messaged me saying a bunch of documents just arrived at her doorstep, and the terms of service seemed different from the one I found notably the age limit rule. What’s worse, she told me the people at the company told her that what was on the website was just some kind of “introduction” to their services, and the document they gave her now was the real deal I don’t even need to explain why this is a stupid explanation. She then arranged with me that she would meet me on Tuesday.

To be honest, I don’t feel like looking at anything at this point. I’ve spent too much time digging into this company and I don’t feel like wasting any more time trying to prove something so obvious. At this point she just seems to choose to believe in whatever she wants to believe, and even if I manage to find any flaw in the document, she will just find another reason to back up that company and run with it. I’m sorry, I know this is my friend, but I’m feeling like giving up and just telling her to do whatever she wants, because I just can’t find the motivation to care now.

I don’t know if you can give me any advice, but if you don’t, that’s totally ok. I just need to vent a bit. Thank you so much for listening.

longgone's avatar

^ It’s kind of you to care so much. That said, let people make their own mistakes. Anything else will drive you crazy. You’ve told her about your concerns, and this is not a life or death situation. If she does end up wasting money, maybe she’ll learn a bigger lesson for the future. I think you’ve done what you could.

janbb's avatar

I agree. Maybe meet with her on Tuesday, look over the documents. Give it one last try and then let it go. But if you feel you’ve spent enough time on it already, tell her she’s free to make up her own mind at this point.

Nomore_lockout's avatar

@Mimishu1995 I find I’m in agreement with the two posters above. I say let it go, but be diplomatic about it. You’ve done about all you can do, but no need to blow your stack and lose a friend. OK?

Mimishu1995's avatar

Thank you everyone for your support! I’ve decided to meet her on Tuesday. But this time I won’t try to prove anything. I will just look at the papers out of pure curiosity. And then I will tell her something like “In the end, do you still believe in that company? If so then you are free to choose. I’m just acting as a consultant, and the ultimate choice is still yours.” Is that OK?

janbb's avatar

Sounds fine!

Mimishu1995's avatar

Update #3: So it’s Tuesday and I met up with her. As promised, she gave me the big book so that I could look it over, but not before showing me some colorful advertising leaflet which I wasn’t interested. I was expecting to see some crazy secret terms of service the world wasn’t allow to see until they did business with them. But no, I was severely shocked and disappointed. Their terms of service was an exact copy of the 2017 document that I found in my first update! (The service package I mentioned actually has two versions of the terms of service, the 2017 one and the 2020 one that I mentioned. I used the 2020 one because it was more up-to-date). So now I had two confusing terms of service, which could potential be used as ammunition if the company ever wants to do anything bad. And I also found out that she had signed up for an additional service package because the original package doesn’t cover hospital bills At this point I was not interested in studying it in details. I just knew that it doesn’t cover mental disorders.

In total, she paid an amount of money that equals one year of my Master program.

At this point I decided I was officially done with that company. I had already said everything that needed to be said so I didn’t feel like talking anymore. I just told her to do whatever she thought was right, and steered the conversation to something else more light-hearted. We didn’t talk about the company since and I have decided I will never talk about it again from now on.

Thank you everyone for your support. It has been a frustrating journey and I didn’t have a good ending, but at least I can stop thinking about it now. Everything from this day on will be her responsibility.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Oh no…. Good for you @Mimishu1995. You did your part to help.
We have two expressions in English that might apply: “You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.”
and
“A fool and his money are soon parted.”
I think the meaning is obvious here.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

“Confident Life” and “Completely Carefree” sound like brands of herbal tea in the Asian grocery store near me.

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