Public servants question insurance plan costs
Some federal government employees say the company providing their group home insurance has been gouging them.
The website for the Professional Institute of the Public Service said members are saving money through its ServicePlus program with Aviva Insurance Company.
But some employees who use the group home insurance said they've been charged premiums much higher than the competition.
Hema Gupta, a drug evaluation expert at Health Canada, said she realized her home insurance was too high when she saw that the dwelling building replacement cost was more than the cost of the house.
Brokers lowered premiums after complaints
Gupta said two other insurance companies offered her much lower premiums, and one broker told her she was paying a dwelling replacement cost for a house twice the size of her home.
"I don't know as a consumer if someone is looking after what kind of tool they are using," said Gupta. "I'm an educated person and I now feel stupid and that I should have got an explanation."
When Gupta complained, her broker lowered her annual premium by $500 and a one-time, 15-per-cent discount.
Her broker said while the reduction would not reduce her dwelling replacement insurance, her contents insurance would go down.
But Gupta said that wasn't clear when the change was made.
'I've lost trust in them'
A colleague of Gupta's, Dr. Hugh Loemba, said he also complained about his premiums to Aviva and had his annual premium reduced by $400, but said no one mentioned that it would mean a lowering of contents insurance coverage.
Gupta also called Aviva seeking repayments on what she said was six years of overpayments, but said she was turned down.
"In the last six years they've overcharged me $3,500 … I think I've lost trust in them," she said.
Gupta's current broker, Brian McClenaghan, wouldn't agree to an interview, but he said companies use industry approved property evaluators to determine the dwelling building replacement costs and said the results can vary based on the calculator used.
Aviva says policy comparisons not apples to apples
Aviva spokeswoman Kimberly Flood said the company does not comment on individual customers' policies because of privacy concerns. But in an emailed statement she said the company strongly recommends "customers work with their brokers to completely and accurately understand the insurance they are buying.
"Often, a quote for a new policy has a lower premium because the proposed new policy is quite different and includes less coverage — so it is not an apples to apples comparison," she wrote.
A spokeswoman for the Professional Institute of the Public Service said the ServicePlus program is a value-added program that is an option for members.
"We bring offerings via our website and members elect to use them or not. Should they purchase a product or service, the relationship resides between the consumer and the supplier," wrote Johanne Fillion in an email response.