Get Ready! with Tony Steuer

GET READY! with Neil Granger: Best Practices for Identifying and Preventing Elder Financial Abuse

October 25, 2019 Tony Steuer / Neil Granger Season 1 Episode 6
Get Ready! with Tony Steuer
GET READY! with Neil Granger: Best Practices for Identifying and Preventing Elder Financial Abuse
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Get Ready! with Tony Steuer
GET READY! with Neil Granger: Best Practices for Identifying and Preventing Elder Financial Abuse
Oct 25, 2019 Season 1 Episode 6
Tony Steuer / Neil Granger

Educate Yourself: Whether you are an advisor or a consumer, take advantage of available resources - Neil Granger

In this episode of GET READY!, I spoke with Neil Granger who specializes in the identification and prevention of elder financial abuse. Neil and I discussed best practices for insurance agents, common fraud techniques and elder financial abuse legislation. Neil shared his experiences in working with attorneys, regulators and law enforcement on elder financial abuse prevention and enforcement.

CONNECT WITH Neil Granger:
LinkedIn -  Neil Granger: https://www.linkedin.com/in/neil-granger
Website - elderinsuranceabuse.com
Resources:

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform: canhr.org (much more than nursing homes)
California Department of Insurance: insurance.ca.gov
Financial Regulatory Links: tonysteuer.com

Show Notes Transcript

Educate Yourself: Whether you are an advisor or a consumer, take advantage of available resources - Neil Granger

In this episode of GET READY!, I spoke with Neil Granger who specializes in the identification and prevention of elder financial abuse. Neil and I discussed best practices for insurance agents, common fraud techniques and elder financial abuse legislation. Neil shared his experiences in working with attorneys, regulators and law enforcement on elder financial abuse prevention and enforcement.

CONNECT WITH Neil Granger:
LinkedIn -  Neil Granger: https://www.linkedin.com/in/neil-granger
Website - elderinsuranceabuse.com
Resources:

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform: canhr.org (much more than nursing homes)
California Department of Insurance: insurance.ca.gov
Financial Regulatory Links: tonysteuer.com

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the get ready with Tony Stewart podcast. This episode, I am pleased to welcome my old colleague Neil chair , Neil, welcome to the get ready with Tony Stewart podcast.

Speaker 2:

Thanks Tony. I'm an old colleague.

Speaker 1:

Well, you know, old is all relative and old and the terms of we've known each other for

Speaker 2:

A long time for a long time. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So , uh , let's dive into it , uh , before we do, of course , uh , I'll want to let you know a little bit about who Neil is. Uh, since 2008, Neil has focused his practice on consulting and expert work in the area of elder financial abuse prevention. Neil works with several district attorney offices as a member of their financial abuse specialist teams. He's testified in both criminal and civil cases and works with the investigative unit of the California department of insurance. Neil also works with the Washington state attorney general. Neil's helped draft and has testified in favor of insurance legislation, which has helped strengthen financial protection for California. Seniors. Neil currently also serves as the chairman of the California department of insurance curriculum board. And on top of that in case this isn't enough, Neil is also a member of the city and County of San Francisco's forensic center, which is a group comprised of adult protective service workers representatives from this San Francisco County ombudsman city attorney, district, attorney, police, conservator medical staff, and others. As part of this, Neil's also , uh, active with the veterans aid awareness project, which this group works to publicize and curtail the financial abuse of veterans through the improper use of veterans aid and attendance program by commercial financial predators is you can see basically Neil does a lot of work with regulatory and , uh , enforcement agencies, and he's even helped write the laws in terms of , um, financial abuse protection. Neo , am I leaving anything out there? I don't know .

Speaker 2:

I don't think so. I like long walks on the beach, but other than that, no, I think you've got everything. I mean, my, my area practice, I I've been in, in , in the insurance industry since 1984. My area of practice now is , uh, particularly in the area of elder financial abuse and , um, more specifically in the , um , commercial enterprises that are directed toward the elder abuse of seniors. Um, so yeah, you got much everything, I think. All right, well, fantastic. You and I met on the curriculum board, so

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Neil and I served together, I think for about eight years on , uh, the curriculum board. Uh, the curriculum board is a board that's part of the California department of insurance that oversees , uh, education and licensing requirements , uh, for agents in , uh , the state of California. So that's where we both come from. And that's where we both , uh, have a common interest is in promoting best practices in the insurance industry. Right . Uh, which the listeners know can be a struggle sometimes in the insurance industry. And that's why, you know, Neil's got a lot to say that will really give you some things to think about. And some good lessons learned as well as some tips on how to stay on the right side of things. Uh, especially when you approach a gray area. So, you know, Neil , you've done a few things over the course of your career, and I know you still continue to do quite a bit. You play music, you're part of a band you've done construction, you know, and then somehow you ended up doing insurance litigation and elder financial protection. I mean, what was the path to get you here and how do you tie all this together?

Speaker 2:

Uh , kind of unlike you, my brother is also a guy like Tony, where , uh, you know, he's , uh , he has a background in finance , um, came out of college with a finance degree. Uh, I actually came out of college with a music degree. And so I was a professional musician for several years. I'll always have had an interest in , uh, in kind of, for lack of a better term kind of blue , blue collar stuff. Uh, so I actually began , uh , working also as most musicians do they pick up a day job out , uh , fixing cars. So I managed a couple of shops and , um, uh , back in , uh , 1984 , uh, a guy came in to have his car serviced and he had an insurance general agency. And so he said, Hey, look, you seem like you're reasonably presentable. Uh , maybe you'd like to, you know , sell insurance. And if you do let me know. And so that's how I got in. I became licensed in 1984 as a life , uh , life. I think it was life and hell , I can't remember, but anyway, the life and health producer and , um, it was kind of an exciting time in , in the insurance. And I think you've been in it as long as I have, I think Tony , and that was a pretty interesting time because that was these guys that I worked for had this novel idea about this product called term insurance. So typically what was available back then was traditional whole life policies. And as you know , um, the whole life policies were pretty expensive from a premium standpoint. So , uh, or purchasing them, weren't able to get the volume of insurance. They needed to protect their families because the premiums were so high, they were based on outdated actuarial assumptions and things like that. So the agency I went to work for for curiously was , uh, was focused on the idea of , um , you know, what we really need to do is get clients enough protection. So you know, that if a , particularly if a breadwinner were die , that the family would be able to, to continue to, even though it would not be the same lifestyle, at least financially, it would be a salvageable situation where , or the financial aspect of it . Uh, it didn't have to worry about. So, so we began selling a lot of different kinds of term insurance and a whole bunch of companies probably don't exist anymore. Um, but people could buy affordably young families was what I worked with. The other thing that the agency I did, they had , uh , they had originated this mortgage , uh , insurance program where, you know, people would get a card in the mail saying, you know, you just took out a mortgage, you know, this whole thing, this is very common practice now, but it wasn't then. So term insurance was a relatively new thing. Mortgage leads, if you will, that's our , we've got our leads were new. And so I had the opportunity to go in and out of a lot of houses, all the meetings back then were done. Face-to-face in fact, a lot of the insurance companies prohibited , uh, selling over the phone. Well, the internet course didn't exist. So I would take my horse and buggy up to somebody's house and , and sit down with them and , and work with them. So, so that was kind of how I got started. And then shortly after I got started, some of the better, the new at that time interest sensitive cash value products came in a sensitive whole life products, the , uh , universal life first universal life policies , uh, also , uh, began to show up , uh, in addition to that long-term care was something that , um, that was a beginning back in, I guess it was the late eighties. We also had some pretty good disability policy . So my career started selling term life insurance. And, you know , I worked primarily because of my background, I guess, and because I was really comfortable with , uh , kind of blue collar folks, I worked kind of blue collar areas. We all had areas we worked. And so , uh , I enjoyed it. I enjoy meeting people, getting to know their families and , and helping them figure out an affordable way to , uh, to get coverage. They wanted . It was an exciting time. It may be hard if somebody's getting into the business. Yeah . Um , right around that. But , um, so that's how I got started. And then I became a partnership certified with lawn care, and we watched that whole long-term care insurance debacle unfold probably together from different counties at that time. Um, watch the first-generation of products come in and then the products that were price-driven come in. Uh, so that was kinda how I got started. Um, and that, that was pretty much, I worked for the agency for a number of years. And then I went out on my own. I became a general agent with , uh, with Ohio national life and , uh , began to sell my own products, not just with them, but with other people too. So , uh, kind of took the 10 step back from selling in, in, in, in the early two thousands. Uh, I had a thriving wine cellar business then. So I was doing that. I got back into , um, I got back into the expert side of things about , that's kind of the, that's kind of the thumbnail, I think more than you wanted, but,

Speaker 1:

Well, I think it's good because you know, it , it, you've had a lot of experience and you've seen the life and health industry change dramatically. And I think for those who are on the property casualty side, there's a big difference, especially with life insurance, with property and casualty insurance insurance is about insurance. It's about protecting the risk and paying for the pure protection of the risk. You know, of course there's other components involved with that, but there there's nothing that anybody gets back after a certain period of time, perhaps they might get a small dividend on their workers' compensation insurance or something of that nature, or, you know, it's minimal. However, in insurance, the life insurance, traditionally people had cash value, life insurance policies, which they got to return their cash value. Now, as we all know, there's nothing free in life right now. Right,

Speaker 2:

Right . Right. And actually I think , uh, my job at that point , um, was to educate people about insurance and because I would, we would, I would run into people every day, every week I saw probably eight to 10 people a week who had cash value, life insurance. And of course, part of my role was to say, you know, what, what insurance is about is it's about protection. It's, that's common with a pro in common with property casualty, but most of these folks have been sold. These insurance policies told them it was a great way to save money. And so a lot of what we had to do early in the , um, in the, in, in my career was to educate people about, look, this is a final paycheck for you. So what we have to do is rather than working from the premium backwards, in other words, figuring out how much you can spend and then , uh, and then , uh , providing you with an expensive whole life policy when you've got two young kids at home or something like that, let's talk about how much insurance you really need if you were to buy , uh , why do agents sell your whole life insurance? Cause they'd rather talk about saving money than about you being dead, but you got to talk about you . And so that was a lot of where I went with. It was, you know, this is about life insurance. There are lots of ways to save money. Uh, you know, if you want to save money, pay off your credit card . Right. But anyway , uh, so, so a lot of it was just explaining to people that , um, the amount of insurance that they actually needed was far higher than they'd been told that they needed. And also to help them understand that there are ways to affordably, especially for a young family where their expenses are high, their need is the brain is you've got young kids, you've got a need for insurance. If something happens to you, you got to provide for them . How do you do that? Well , you do it affordably. And so a lot of our job back then was to educate people about what term insurance was. And actually Tony, it's interesting. You'd go to the property and casualty because that's what I talked about. I mindset , well, look, you know, if you have , if you drive your car around for a year and you don't have a wreck, the insurance company doesn't go, wow, that's great. Here's $5,000. They, they take the money that's out terminal . And so that was a lot of what we were doing back then was getting people to understand , uh , they had a higher need than they thought, and they didn't have to pay as much as they thought they had. Um, it was go ahead.

Speaker 1:

I was going to say, and I think that underlines one of the best practices , uh, you know , uh , that I implemented, I know you, you helped me put together the financial principles and that financial principle is to get the coverage that you need rather than have it be based upon anything else. And I think, you know, that's even in homeowner's insurances , you know, taking a look at the replacement property , uh, the replacement value of the property currently, and making sure that those parameters are up to speed where in life insurance, traditionally, that was not the question. Uh , the question wasn't really about assessing the property risk. It was about how much insurance could somebody buy or how much premium,

Speaker 2:

How much could you afford. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 1:

Now let's get right to the heart of the matter, because what you've been involved with and where you and I have found a lot of common interests is in ancient misdeeds and company misdeeds. And I think that those pretty much, I would say, I don't think I've seen any that have stemmed from term insurance if you Emil .

Speaker 2:

No, no. Uh, term insurance is a , uh , maybe it's a, self-selection kind of a thing where if you're selling term insurance, you're already as an agent, you're already committed to helping people find the right amount of coverage. They have, most of the time I've seen problems, it's with the cash value insurance and that's because cash value insurance premiums are higher. Typically commission rates are higher. Uh, and I think a lot of times the agencies seldom are , are not, maybe not particularly as well, educated as they might be about them and how they work

Speaker 1:

Well. And I think that's, there's actually two lessons in there. One is, and I think this is a theme we'll continue to head on through this episode is that it's all about the customer. It's not about the advisor . It's not about the broker. It's not about the insurance company. It's about serving the customer and getting them a good product. And no matter what line of insurance coverage or outside of insurance, you know, what financial product you're representing, it's about finding the thing that fits the client's needs and getting them the best product. And then the second part that you hit on is the educational component. Because I think that if you educate the clients and the clients truly understand what they need is you're not going to have too many problems with your book of business. I mean, would you agree with that meal?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. And what I used to tell my clients and my colleagues did too, was if, if you don't understand what I'm talking about here, or if you don't understand what I want you to purchase, then don't buy it because my job is , um, my job is to overcome kind of the natural conflict of interest that maybe insurance commission trades based people have with their clients and make sure that you understand what you need. Number one, and give you options as to ways that you can make that happen. And so , um, I think that the educational component of it is extremely important and it's the first thing that , um, that , uh , I would do. And it was the first thing that this agency I worked with required us to do, you know, you have to go in and make sure people understand , uh, what you're , what they're buying and then if they understand it and if there's full disclosure and if they're given options, then you know, your, your potential for problems drops asterisk by doing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So if there's anybody here with a errors and emissions company, this is the lesson to promote, to , uh , be agents who are insured with you. And on the flip side for agents and companies, if you don't want to spend quality time with your errors and emissions company , uh, yeah, I think these like that. So, you know, let's , you know, I, I know you've got so many cases that you work on that are just fascinating. Um, do you want to share maybe what you consider your most interesting, fascinating case?

Speaker 2:

Well, there, there are a couple, I mean , um, I can't really give you a name name , but My first of course, my first case I did as an expert witness was, was very interesting because it was a , a major class action lawsuit against an insurance company who was using their , um, their general agencies and their, their, their field offices to promote , um, trusts and trust mills. And so they were , um, they were working along with the , uh, their , uh, FMS and their, and their general agencies to give them materials in order to have the , uh, the agents put on senior seminars and talk about how people need to trust and then using the trusts as a pretext for selling annuities and a pretty bad annuity . So I think for me, that was an interesting case in the sense that it was the first time I'd really seen that, that this was an enterprise, you know, that , that an insurance company was looking at this. You had a lot of insurance company , um, people who were myopically sort of fixed upon the marketing of these products, and I'm not entirely sure that they really saw what was wrong with it. They just saw , this was a way that we could get our products out in the field. That's pretty common. First case was really interesting that way , uh, for a couple of reasons. And I think maybe for some of our listeners, it might be interesting because it was the first case where I saw that what the insurance company did was to say, we're just giving you this information, the agents, whatever the agents do with it has nothing to do with us. So, so I said, wow, this is interesting. Um, the insurance companies are throwing the agents under the bus, you know, so that was from, and being an agent myself. That was a really interesting , um, interesting thing to me. And it's also one of the early cases I did was with a large insurance company back East, and they were doing the same thing. They were marketing, I believe they were four 57 plans to their clients who were CPAs. And so these CPAs would go out and sell these plans to people who were in their late eighties or mid eighties, early eighties. And there was no way to fund the plan properly. There was no way that they could disperse the money out of the plan properly was it was clearly financial elder abuse, but the people who were pushing it at the home office, this concept , the marketing people who were looking at a way to increase business, right. Um, and at the same time there was, there was no everything was so compartmentalize . Um, you can draw your own conclusions about why that's done. Uh, everything was so compartmentalized to the company that nobody had to take ultimate responsibility for this whole enterprise. So the company saying, well, you know, we have these marketing people, they do that. Uh, all our products are, are , uh, you know, compliant with the department of insurance. Uh, you know, and, and , uh, of course that was before we had a lot of the, a lot of the mandatory disclosure document. And so to me, that was fascinating because it was the first time I saw where a company could structure their whole oversight operations so that nobody actually had to take responsibility for the bank . I think, again, it was an under it underscored for me. Uh, if you're an agent that the company's first line of defense and I've in the litigation work that I've done. And even in the, in the criminal work and things like that, the first companies I have a good criminal case first company is lineup . The company's first line of defense is to say, well, the agents aren't our employees and they did this on their own. And we certainly wouldn't , uh, wouldn't , uh, uh, condone this. Uh, a lot of times when you, in discovery , you go through the documents you find out, actually they did know one fun criminal case, and I can actually give you the guy's name, a guy named Jeffrey Milton in San Diego. It was my first criminal case. I , I testified at his preliminary hearing. He ran a trust mill . And if you don't know what a trust mill is, you, you might want to look that up. Basically, a trust mill as an enterprise where a trust, the creation of a trust is used as a pretext to obtain someone's financial information. That information then is , uh , uh, those assets are then converted into annuity. So the scam has to have a senior seminar recommend that somebody get a trust having now having an attorney with you or not in this case, I'm not sure if there was a real attorney involved, this guy would set up these press and then get a list of all the seniors assets. And then he would sell them an annuity. Unfortunately, the annuity that he sold them was , uh , typed up at his own house. So he set up a nonprofit , he actually set up a nonprofit . Wow. And, and he would , and so on this, it was actually, I think it , I believe it was sort of a , like an audience asterick exit annuity. He just took all the aunts , his name off it, put it on hand, but on his and , uh , would , would pocket the money. So he just pocket the money. He didn't , he wasn't selling it. Wasn't there was no insurance company involved. That was an interesting one. He went , ended up going to prison, I think, because he'd done it multiple times. So a couple of there.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Well, I think, you know, we're seeing a couple of key takeaways is responsibility. Uh, the farming out of responsibility, especially as , uh, the insurance industry and the financial services industry has these very , uh, spread out distribution networks. I mean, we saw it recently, even with Wells Fargo where it wasn't a distributed network where it was Wells Fargo internally , uh , promoting fraudulent sales that I think, you know, everybody along the process has to be responsible for themselves and understand their role. But I think that we all need to take a bigger , uh , look at the bigger picture. I mean, when you agree meals that, you know, you have to take a look at the forest that we're all operating in rather than the trees.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I think, I think you do, you have to have a much broader range of , uh, of focus than you used to have. And, and, you know, you're an agent , uh, or you're a general agent , um, uh, you, you really have to be aware of best practices and you have to really be , um , aware of what the requirements are for you. Um, and you have to go above and beyond those, I believe to make sure that you're making full disclosure, that you're, you're behaving in an ethical way. Um, a lot of what I used to hear in these meetings I'd go to as well, you know, we've got a , you know , we don't have to worry about it if it gets pretty ugly. I mean, I've sat in on depositions of agents and it's not fun. So anything you can do to avoid , uh, being in that situation is really important. And , um , so as an agent, if you make sure you dot all the I's and cross the T's and you do your best practice, and also you understand the broader range of what what's going on out in the market, that's very important.

Speaker 1:

That's great. Yeah. I think that's great tips. I know I've done a couple of depositions and it's something I, I got to say actually getting a root canal was much more peaceful because at least I could turn on my iPhone and listen to some music,

Speaker 2:

Nitrous oxide. Right .

Speaker 1:

So, you know, when you can compare a root canal favorably to something, I think that kind of gives you an idea . Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And it's really not about the deposition. And I do believe, I mean, it is, and it isn't, but, you know , um , as an agent, if you're selling insurance , uh, the way you get to a deposition is by not being aware of the perhaps unintended consequences of your actions. And , um, that's why, you know, here in California, we're lucky we have a lot of elder protections in place via the insurance code. Um, but as a producer, you still have to go above and beyond that, make sure you document everything , uh, make sure that you , uh, that you keep notes on everything. Uh, if you're dealing with an older senior , um, get their family involved , uh, make sure that full disclosure is given, make sure you understand the products that you sell. I mean, a lot of the agents, a lot of the agents that I've seen in a lot of the cases I've been involved with, it's absolutely clear , uh, that the , uh, that the agent doesn't know the product they're just told to sell it because of the commission. Uh , one of the first cases I did, in fact, the first case I did , uh, expert testimony on was a case where the agent sold an 84 year old illiterate, cognitively impaired guy , uh, $660,000 worth of annuities, really bad annuities. I think mission on them was 16%, something like that. So you do the math in deposition, the agent didn't know what an annuitant was. So educate yourself, make sure you know what you're doing. Yeah. And educate your clients

Speaker 1:

As well. And I think that's, you know, it's a lesson that we can all take is, you know, that all of our clients age and as they age , um, you know, we have to be aware , uh, of cognitive changes, right . With our clients and , uh, familiarize with ourselves. I'm going to ask you about that in just a sec, but I, there , there was one other point, but I think it may be slowly slipping away. So I'll give back to you in a minute, send me okay . I'm 67. I know that as we go here is , um, you know, what can agents do? And , uh , insurance companies, do, you know, this is going to be a bigger issue with the bringing of America in monitoring our clients. And as a company, you know, a book of business as Americans age, and we run into some of these issues where the clients may be losing some of their cognitive function.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I think that's, that's a real issue. And , uh , I previously mentioned, I think one thing that you can do as an agent, it's, it's kind of, kind of a hassle, you know , um, but trying to get the family involved, like they're typically, like, I know, you know, we just lost my father, my mother, and father-in-law this year and my dad passed away a while ago. But as a , as their kids, my brother and I were , were intimately involved in , um, making, helping them make financial decisions as they became older. So, so , um, my sense is that if, if you're, if you're an agent, you kind of know what you should do. And , um, that would be , um, to put the interests of the client ahead of , uh , the interest in making a sale. Um, and to make sure that you client has the resources together. And I don't mean financial resources necessarily. I mean, the family resources, the support , um, together , uh, to , uh, to be able to responsibly make decisions. You know, a lot of times I would, if they had an estate planning attorney, I would meet with the attorney and talk about what, what might be best. Uh, I'd also recommend to people that they , uh, that they get fee-based planners and that they use a fee-based planner to help them tell them what they need to do, and then they can shop for it with agents from the agent's perspective. I think it's full disclosure, it's , uh, giving people choices , um, universally in , uh, and I , I don't, I can't say this about much, but , uh, universally in the cases I've looked at. And again, I look at a lot of cases every month because I work with the city and County of San Francisco. I also work with some district attorneys. And so then the attorney general things like that, department of insurance, universally , uh, I've said that three times now people are only shown one product. They're only shown one product and they're told this is it. Um, that to me is a big red flag. So if you're a producer and you're out there talking to people and you're working with seniors, I would say that what you can do is first of all, make sure that they have the people with them who can help them make the decision in an informed way. That's the point of the 24 hour notice law in San Francisco in , in California is that , uh, the agent has to give written notice to the Sr 24 hours before they meet with them so that the senior has the option of having people there or not being there at all themselves. Um, so that's, that's the one thing and I lost the thread on the other, but then it would also be to , uh, to make sure that you show , uh , a number of products and also to make, you know, to give people time, to make their decisions. And a lot of that is antithetical to the sales process as we , you know, you're supposed to go in and uploads them , that kind of, but again, work with their resources. Um, another thing that we've seen in elder abuse cases , uh, one of the red flags is when you see a senior, who's been asked to change their CPA and their attorney and their insurance agent all at one time, because that's starting to look like some kind of an enterprise to me they're isolating the senior , uh, isolating the senior from their support system in order to manipulate them into, into purchasing the inappropriate products or services. So those are the kinds of things you can do, kind of ease into using the support network that the senior has to help them make decisions, to make sure that the family knows what's going on.

Speaker 1:

Okay. So, you know, and that , that leads to the next question is, so let's say you're part of the distribution chain, but once or twice removed either you're an insurance wholesaler, general agent, you know, what have you, or you're an insurance company. How do you, when you're removed from the client , uh, monitor this process of what tools can be implemented to put in some best practices,

Speaker 2:

Why look at the agent report, that's where I started . You know, if you're a carrier, develop an agent report that's comprehensive. Um, and if you're, if you're a carrier or you're a general agent , um, here's what I found in litigation is that, that, you know, the agent report does not become part of the contract. The application does. And often what happens is, is that the agent report is what the agent uses to sell the case to the insurance company. You know , how much money they have, where is it? Do they have this experience, that experience that kind of, a lot of times the agent report does not agree with the required disclosure documents in the application. And so that's one place I would start make sure that the agent report is, has parallel information to the information on the annuity disclosure forms that are, that are , uh, that are , uh , given with the application, make sure that the client has an illustration. Um, a lot of the abuses I've seen are , uh, uh, I showed it to them on the computer. Yeah . And there's some insurance companies that accept that like, Oh, I showed them a computer illustration. Um, make sure they have signed, signed , uh , make sure they show the whole illustration. You, and I've seen this , you know, it's like nine pages long and they get one page with white out all over it or something. So , um, I think if you're upstream in the distribution network , um, make sure that , uh, make sure that any kind of look at, look at datings on trust . See if it's , uh , generated, backtrack that , uh, look at the pattern. If you're a company , look at the pattern of the agent's behavior. Often you find , uh, the bad players have consistent behavior across their entire clientele. And , um, take a few minutes and look at that , uh, look at where the checks are coming from. See if you're getting two party checks, see if, see, if agents are doing 10 35 exchange on policies. When, when appropriate, a lot of agents will have , um, we'll have their clients , um , surrender their existing annuities and then take the money and give it to the new company so that they can avoid having the company having to answer that question, which says, are you replacing any annuities with this new one? And they say, no. And then they have the client , uh, am I giving a how to manual here? I hope not the client surrender their existing annuities and then take money and put it into the new one. Of course, two or three years later, it turns out, Oh, they got constructive receipt of a value. And now the IRS is after them. And, and , and actually a number of agents have been caught that way , that the client gets an IRS notice saying, you owe X, thousands of dollars in taxes. And they're like, well , but I, I exchanged my annuity. No, you didn't use surrendered it. And then you wrote a new check or the, my favorite you surrendered it. And then you endorse the back of the check to the new company and the new company took it. They took us , they took us , they took a second party check . So , uh, anyway, that's, that's my little rant on that. I don't know.

Speaker 1:

Well, you know, I , I think , uh, you know, some of that of courses , uh, very specific to annuities and some, a little bit to life insurance, but I think the bigger lessons for the entire financial services industry is the Finner role of know your customer. Right. You know, that's what you're , if I understand correctly, that's what you're saying about the agent support. And I think that's something, you know, I don't know to what extent property and casualty companies , uh , use as farms . But I think with the graying of America, it's something that all firms should be using. I think they should be implementing, you know, with some of those, they almost border on money laundering rules is endorsing of checks and taking a look at those co party checks and where the checks are coming from , uh, you know, their property and casualty people can also be part of that process and the property and casualty insurance companies, property and casualty insurance agents who are often using escrow accounts , uh, that the insurance companies, you know, I don't know to some degree. So if we have listeners out there , uh , my , my area of knowledge is minimal here, but , uh, you know , is the monitoring and practices that you set up around the escrow accounts? Uh,

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I know nothing about that, but that's, that's interesting. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So, you know, there's areas that we can all take , uh, you know , uh , from all facets of the insurance industry. And if you're a consumer who's listening to this, that the lesson is, you know, to pay attention, to, to know what's going on, to become educated, to take a look at, you know, like you said, if a guy's printing up annuities , uh, you know, on his typewriter, you know, if you're buying it from Bob's mutual insurance company, that might be a tip off , um, is that you want to make sure you're doing business with a legitimate agent and a insurance company, and we're fortunate enough to have , uh, the internet where you can easily do research. Uh , sometimes it is hard to tell if a company is real or not. I mean, Bernie Madoff got away with his shenanigans for decades and fooled. Some people who possibly should have known better. Um , however, you know, lot of the stuff it's just like getting the phishing emails, you can pretty much tell when there's a misspelling and instead of , uh, you know, state farm, it says state farmers, you know , but maybe there's something wrong there that state farm probably knows how to spell their name by now.

Speaker 2:

They probably do. Yeah, they've done it.

Speaker 1:

So I think the things that we can all learn , um, so Neil , uh, you know, w we're not going to have time to really get into legislation, unfortunately. So definitely we'll want to have you on for that, but I'm sure, you know, a couple, couple questions, you know, I want to leave on is, you know, how can people stay on top of , um , these developments and stay ahead of the curve?

Speaker 2:

It's hard to do , um, you know, consumers, I think you can , um, department of insurance has some stuff on their website, but there are some , um, there are some , uh, entities out there, a couple of nonprofits that I think have good information on this. Uh, I mean, Tony , I think one thing you can do is get your book, because I think that, I think that, and I was not paid to say that because I think that the big problem is that , uh , as a consumer , uh , the big issue is that, you know, you have to take some responsibility on yourself and it has to be, you know, you have to put a little bit of effort in of good effort in to understand your own situation. And if you get a book like the get ready book , um, and I've actually given that to my daughter, my wife has she's filling it out. Uh it's um, it's the kind of thing where it gets your information in one place where you can look at it. So I think that you can start with a resource, like, well, any of your books, really, but to get ready to book, it's really good for a way of having everything in one place. Then I think, you know, educate yourself. Um, you could go on a website like the California advocates for , uh, California advocates for, I just forgot their name, canner , California advocates, quantum care, anyway , uh , canter.org . They have a lot of resources on , um , Medi-Cal veteran's aid and attendance, wills, trusts aging in place. How the, how the nursing home systems work and all that , uh , they also have an 800 number. So we actually have a hotline you can call in, if you have any questions or you think there's something fishy going on, you can call California advocates for nursing home . That's it. I got it. Call them up and they can talk to you about it. There's also the California elder justice coalition. They have a lot of good resources on their website, CDI , uh , California department of insurance has stuff too, but the way I think too, that's part of what you can do. And if you're a producer , uh , some of these nonprofits like Cantor has a conference every year, I go to the conference and spend a couple of days talking to people who are in this field. Um, it's harder to find information on financial abuse of seniors than it is physical abuse, but what's becoming rapidly recognized is that it's , it's a real, it's a real problem. So staying in front of those trends, I think that that would be how I would do it. Uh, anything you can do as a producer to , um, to further educate yourself around this will make you more valuable to you for your clients. And certainly as a guy who's aging, I want to have people around who , uh, who notice stuff.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well , and I think that's so important is that, you know, across , uh , the whole distribution line, ending with a consumer as a part of the distribution line of a financial service product and the ecosystem is that we should all be paying attention to these resources that are being put out there by various non-profits and regulatory bodies take it upon ourselves to stay current , uh , with the issues are , um, are there any , uh, thought leaders in this area or newsletters or websites that put out regular information, you might suggest to people,

Speaker 2:

You know, I'm , I'm kind of in this weird little call to SAC and I'm part of a list serve for the nationalists , but you have to be invited to that. So it's kind of hard to get into , uh, I think that , um, I don't know, you might be a better resource on that than me, Tony. I think that your , these kinds of podcasts are highly informative. Um, I , uh, and I, and then I do think that , um, you know, I'm around some people like you like , uh, Prescott Cole over at canner , uh, Shawna Reeves who's , uh , who's the director of elder financial abuse, elder financial abuse and prevention at the Institute on aging and is also a board member of the California elder justice coalition. Uh, those are kind of the, the people I use. And like I said, I , I occupied kind of this strange little corner of the world. So , um, I'd certainly be happy to let you know if anybody , but it's, it's a challenge. It's difficult because a lot of what I learn about what's going on is it's through my own research and looking at , uh, looking at persons of interest, if you will, or , uh, or enterprises of interest . Um, I also have , uh, information that I get from, you know, from the , the attorney general here in California, other district attorneys, the department of insurance and all that . So I don't know, that's really kind of all I've got would happen . Sorry. That's okay.

Speaker 1:

We'll put those in the show notes for our listeners

Speaker 2:

And a great resource. You know, if you think you have a problem, you can call them, they have an 800 line though. They'll, they'll get on it for you. And they'll find you resources. If you think as a consumer, if you think you're having.

Speaker 1:

So just a quick note is will they help with people outside of California or at least point you to resources outside of it ?

Speaker 2:

I would call them, they will point you to resources , uh, and , uh, call them with an annuity question. They'll probably call me, but yeah, they're a , they're a great organization. So yeah, they have an 800 number. You can call them all over the country. And, you know, the interesting thing too, is they're interested in that. I'm interested in that because a lot of these really bad , uh, enterprises that are out there are nationwide. And in fact, some of them don't operate in California because of the legislation that we've been able to pass over the last 10 years to prevent them doing so , but they're all over the rest of the company . So we want to know about them.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And I think we definitely don't have time to get into this, but of course, I'll throw it out there as a teaser , uh , is that, I think it's the balance of regulation and legislation and free market and the tension between those that leads to positive or less than positive results. As we talk about , uh, the company's not doing business in California or not selling certain products in California because of the regulations and legislations that I think that says something about the value of having some regulations in operations and that we shouldn't be scared , um, as members of the insurance industry, by regulations and legislation, as of course, as we all know is sometimes too burdensome. I know that I've had some long-term care insurance applications that approach 40 to 50 pages in length. And then the consumers are given a hundred pages of disclosure documents, and we all know exactly how much information the consumer is going to take and be able to consume , uh, that Ben number quickly approaches zero Raider , the number of pages that are put out there. So I think the, we all need to understand that there's that balance and that we all play a role in helping out with that balance. Um, you know, so Neil, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your thoughts and , uh , sharing, you know, some of your experiences with us. It's been great to have you on , um, just one last quick question. Um, where can people learn more about you? Well , um, you can go, I guess my website, I have sort of a funky website, but it tells me , it tells you my history and all that. So that's neat meal , granger.com. And he, I L G R E G E R . Um , and , um, I'd better updated . I , I print principally now I do consulting expert work. I'm not doing any testifying expert work, but what I, what I do, what I really am interested in are these kinds of issues of my, my main area of emphasis , as I said, is sort of commercial enterprises directed at , uh , abusing elders financially. So , um, you can read about me at my website and , um, you know, send me an email. Sounds great. Sounds great. And you know, we'll put some information in the show notes on all of this. Um, so Neil, thank you again for coming on the, get ready with Tony Stewart podcast . It's been a pleasure having you on. Thanks, Tani . Great, great service you're doing here. Thank you. So thanks. Bye bye-bye .