Wednesday

The Lady Preacher

I didn't run into too many lady preachers in my nine years of church insurance work. If I did they were usually pastoring some new age gay church, but I did have one memorable experience with a lady preacher at a black church in San Diego County.

I first met her and her husband when they called in needing insurance for their church. Their policy had lapsed with another company and their mortgage loan company was demanding a new policy. They had a clean loss history and I got underwriting approval to write the account. They paid us 25% down and we put them on a quarter payment plan.

I never had any problems with her except for one annoying thing. She decided the appropriate use of her church answering machine was to put a 3-4 minute sermon on there that you had to listen to in order to leave a message. It was incredibly annoying. Here's a little advice for churches: Nobody is going to get "saved" or dedicate themselves to your God based on your answering machine message. Keep it simple, and for Pete's sake, short.

Many months had gone by without claims or other contact when I got word from our accounting people that a "Notice of Cancellation" had been sent to the church because of non-payment. The account was way overdue and by the date they actually cancelled it the church owed over $1,000 in earned premium. We had a rule on our commission plan that any funds written off during the first year of a policy came out of the pocket of the agent, so I was looking at a $1,000 loss because of these idiots. The collection efforts carried over into the Christmas season and fortunately, the account wasn't written off right before the holidays.

Then, we had a little stroke of providence. While I was on my Christmas vacation I got a call from the lady preacher. She apologized for the problems and said she wanted to get her policy reinstated. I made a few calls and we agreed to rewrite her package provided that she pay us the full amount of earned premium owed on the previous policy, plus 25% down on the new one. She sent a check in right away and I thanked my lucky stars. Not only did it save me $1,000, but it gave me a new business at the start of the year and more commission on a future check.

A few days into the year I had to go to Texas for a quick personal trip, and on my last day there I got a phone message from the office that the lady preacher had called in and changed her mind. She no longer wanted the new policy from us (she had gone back to her previous company since they had a better offer) and she wanted her money back...not just the down payment, but all the money including the $1,000 we had applied to her debt. That got a good laugh.

I went straight to the office from the airport and huddled with the powers-that-be and we decided that we were fully in our rights to retain the amount owed on the debt, but would cancel the new policy without charge and refund the down payment.

That didn't sit well with Ms. Lady Preacher. She called up and got all over me, claiming we were stealing her money and she had a right to have it back. When that approach didn't work she tried a new tack - she promised that if we sent all her money back she'd pay off that amount that was due as soon as she could. I told her that wouldn't be necessary because she no longer owed us anything. She had paid it off. *CLICK!*

The next day I got an email from some guy who claimed to represent the church and he reiterated her demand for payment of all her funds. He obviously wasn't an attorney since no attorney would send a demand letter by email, and it certainly wasn't written that well. I politely told him to go pound sand.

That was end of my experience with that lady preacher, and that church went on our "do not write" list forever.

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