What You Should Know About Great West Life

by Pam on October 22, 2012

My husband and I have had nothing but grief when dealing with the insurance company Great West Life.  I don’t usually write about specific companies, but in this case, I thought it might be useful for others who have the same grievances.  Below are just a few reasons why I would NOT recommend Great West Life to any employers who are currently seeking a Group Benefits provider.

Their Customer Service is TERRIBLE.

For a while, both my husband and I had coverage under Great West Life through our employers.  We found that the customer service was terrible any time that we had to call to inquire about our claims.   In fact, at one point, my husband had asked to speak to a contact centre agent’s supervisor, and the agent put my husband on hold for approximately 38 minutes. So, while holding with the agent, my husband called and spoke with another agent and was finally able to speak to a supervisor.  It was only after speaking with a supervisor that his dental claim was finally paid, after about a month and a half of senseless waiting.

They Take A Very LONG Time to Pay Out Claims

While most group benefit insurance companies are quite speedy in paying out their claims, Great West Life takes as much time as they possibly can. I believe they may do this in order to hopefully get away with not paying the claims at all.  My guess is that they know that most people are too busy and they will eventually forget about past claims.  I truly hope that I am wrong, but at present, I have no faith whatsoever in this company.  I have dealt with Sun Life in the past, and they are a breath of fresh air in comparison with Great West Life.

Tips for Dealing with Great West Life

All venting aside, to make this post somewhat productive, I will give you some tips for dealing with Great West Life, if you are unfortunate enough to have to deal with them.

Before You Undergo Any Major Treatment…

If you are planning on doing anything major, make sure that the dentist or medical practitioner submits the information to Great West Life prior to your treatment.  Have the dentist/medical practitioner send Great West Life all the details at least a couple of weeks in advance so that they are prepared and can already request more information before you start your treatment.

Once You Have Had Your Treatment…

Then, after you have had your treatment, have your dentist/medical practitioner send the claim in on paper through the mail rather than submitting it electronically, as guaranteed Great West Life will want x-rays and a thousand other things from your dentist/medical practitioner.  Sending claims electronically will waste a lot of your time as it will take Great West Life about three weeks before they will request further information and then you have to wait a month or more after that in order to receive anything from them. (I know this because when my husband had a crown done, the dentist submitted the claim electronically, and Great West Life didn’t even look at the claim until about three weeks after it was submitted.  Only after that did they mail a request to the dentist for more information.  Needless to say, we didn’t get our money from that claim until we had called Great West Life no less than about ten times and my husband finally spoke to a supervisor.  Unbelievable!)

Make Sure You Have Enough Of Your Own Money To Pay For The Treatment!

In short, if you absolutely need to get treatment done, make sure you have enough of your own money to pay for it, without having to keep a balance owing on your credit card.  Be prepared to wait a few months to get your money from Great West Life as this company is NOT dependable and you could be waiting indefinitely for any payment for claims submitted.

Again, I am not usually this negative, and this is in fact the first post I ever devoted to venting about a company, but I believe in this particular case it is justified.  I hope that your experiences with Great West Life have been better than mine, but if not, at least I know that I am not alone in my less than positive opinion on this matter.  Although I am still a big proponent of taking full advantage of all employee benefits, it is important that you are fully aware of what you are dealing with when it comes to Great West Life.  I would hate for you to have to carry a balance on your credit card due to the incompetency of an insurance company.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Wayne January 7, 2013 at 3:11 pm

I don’t make it a habit of making public statements about businesses either. That said I completely agree with your observation of Great West’s ability cause senseless grief. I will discourage any person from ever doing business with them at every opportunity.

My 86 year old blind mother is a retired nurse receiving a small annuity payment from Great West. Her payment was direct deposited regularly on the first of each month for years. One month it just didn’t show up. I called Great West to inquire about it and was told their records had been updated to indicate that she was deceased. Just so happpens she was and is still very much alive.

Yes, the customer service department at Great West is disgraceful. One tactic I encountered is that any action on their part to correct their own mistakes is based upon them waiting for something not yet faxed from the customer. Anyway several calls, faxes, days, and yes weeks later her missing annuity payment was finally deposited. I anxiously waited to see if the subsequent monthly payment on the first of the next month would occur properly. It did! Problem resolved I thought. Bad assumption on my part. Couple of days later more than $15,000 suddenly disappeared from my mother’s bank account. This was a “reclaim” transaction initiated by Great West. I.E. recovering annuity payments made for the the time she was supposedly deceased. That nagging little detail of her still being alive still looms. Back to an unapologetic and rather non-chalant customer service department it goes.

To anyone ever considering doing business with Great West, please spare yourself the agony.

Mel February 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I too, have to agree that the customer service department at Great-West Life can be absolutely terrible to deal with and if you can avoid doing business with them, do. If they happen to be your employer’s choice of insurance provider, keep records of EVERY call you place to them including date, time, duration and outcome of call, and ALWAYS ask for the name of the rep to whom you are speaking. Also, if you are not getting satisfactory answers, stay on the line until you can speak to a supervisor. This company is the height of arrogance and frustration.

laney November 29, 2013 at 4:18 pm

have lost our home thanks to great west life, they took 6 months to finally pay us something, on a monthly basis, now again, almost a year later husband was off for a couple of weeks, we have now been waiting a month, thanks to them I have to tell my landord can”t pay the rent on the first because of great west life, I also have a child to feed, they are horrible, I don.t know why his company deals with them they are disgusting, surely there must be some lawyer, or Ombudsmen that can take the insurence company to task, how many other families have they caused this hardship too.

Trish February 5, 2015 at 7:53 pm

my husbands dental is with GWL and they are the worst to deal with.. took them one year to approve my sons root canal and crown.. thank God i have dental with Sunlife they covered 80% and paid quickly, its been over a month and they are now asking for more info before paying.. we sent them the xrays 3 times.

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