Finance Director discusses insurance change

By Lesley Hughes
star staff
lhughes@starhq.com

  Communication is key in any relationship, whether it be personal or professional. County Finance Director Jason Cody is learning this lesson the hard way as rumors have been flying around Carter County Courthouse regarding the change of life insurance providers in February 2004.
  Some county employees have been worried about lapses in coverage, status of additional coverage bought by individuals, and the fact that employees were never asked to fill out another beneficiary form.
  Nine months ago, Cody decided to switch the county's insurance provider from Canada Life Assurance Company to MetLife Insurance Company after learning Canada Life was being sold to Jefferson Pilot Company.
  Cody described the switch as a "positive" move to a more "stable and solid company." Another part of the decision to transfer companies was the possibility of significant rate increases from Jefferson Pilot. Fortunately, MetLife offered the county the chance to pay the same rate that was being paid to Canada Life.
  Cody said he addressed the rumor problem three ways: a memo was sent to employees in the past payroll statement; he has had an open door policy for employees to discuss the matter; and representatives from MetLife met with county employees to address questions last Thursday.
  Another meeting is being scheduled between MetLife representatives and county employees in the next week.
  One concern for many employees was a possibility of a lapse in coverage during the transfer, but according to the financial director no lapse occurred and all life insurance coverage has been completely transferred.
  Ordinarily, upon switching insurance companies, an employee is asked to fill out another beneficiary form. However, in this case, employees were never asked to fill out another form because they were not notified of the transfer earlier in 2004.
  Cody attributes not asking employees to fill out the form because MetLife and Canada Life are operated by the "same group." Therefore beneficiary information was already available to MetLife upon the transfer.
  "It was my understanding that that information was transferred to MetLife," Cody said. Although he did say that some questions regarding this were asked during the meeting with the insurance reps on Thursday. Answers to this question will be given at the next meeting.
  Cody added, "My job is to look out and to do what is in the best interest of the county. With that responsibility I would have been negligent had I not known this company was being bought out and not make some action. It could have been seen as negligent to not go with a financially stable and better company at the same cost."
  He did add that if he had the same decision to make, "I would have made the same decision, but the communication could have been improved."