'I find it unethical': B.C. man charged thousands in life insurance rate hike

A Nelson, B.C., man is raising concerns and demanding a refund after he says Canada Life increased his life insurance policy payments by more than 500 per cent without his approval.

'I doubt very much that I'm the only person who has been victimized by this'

Kevin McKechnie didn't initially notice that his insurance provider had increased his policy payments by more than 500 per cent. (ssguy/Shutterstock)

A man in Nelson, B.C., is fighting to get back thousands of dollars after he says his life insurance provider started charging him nearly $800 a month without his knowledge.

In March 2017, Dr. Kevin McKechnie noticed that $784.40 had been automatically debited from his chequing account. 

Upon investigating, he realized six payments totalling $4,706.40 had been withdrawn by his life insurance provider, Canada Life, when the company renewed his policy at a premium of more than 500 per cent.

"Unfortunately, it took us a little while to realize things had gone awry," said McKechnie.

"My wife and I were in the middle of switching banks and probably weren't as careful watching our automatic debits as we normally are."

McKechnie had previously paid $143.55 a month for life insurance, but was told his 10-year term policy was automatically renewed when he failed to notify his insurance company to cancel it.

He said the company told him a notice had been sent to his home, but it was sent to an address he had not lived at for the past eight years.

'Takes advantage of people being unaware'

"No further attempts had been made to send a letter to our current address or contact me by phone," he said.

"They basically said that I should've read the fine print and it's my responsibility to be aware that my term had come up. They basically washed their hands of it."

McKechnie has since written to Canada Life multiple times to explain his situation and ask for a refund, but has been denied.

In an emailed statement, a company spokesperson says "we do not comment on specific client matters, due to privacy considerations."

However, the statement goes on to say "the auto-renewal provision is in place to ensure customers and their families continue to be financially protected."

"Transparency is maintained at the time of issue by providing customers with detailed schedules of their renewal dates along with their accompanying premium increases."

McKechnie admits he is not free of fault in the situation, but still finds the company's policy questionable.

"I find it unethical and I doubt very much that I'm the only person who has been victimized by this," he said.

"I suspect that this is probably a widespread practice that just takes advantage of people being unaware."

"That's really the reason I'm making a stink about this at all. I'd really like to see some changes made on a systemic level."

McKechnie has contacted the Better Business Bureau to file a formal complaint, but was told to instead contact the insurance company's internal complaints department.

With files from CBC's Daybreak South

About the Author

Jaimie Kehler

Jaimie Kehler is a web writer, producer and broadcaster based in Kelowna, B.C. She has also worked for CBC News in Toronto and Ottawa. To contact her with a story, email jaimie.kehler@cbc.ca.