Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Wednesday, October 15, 1997

Sorry, but insurance firm
can charge surrender fee

I have a 10-year annuity policy that Hartford Investment Insurance Co., took over from Investors Equity Insurance. When I said I wanted to withdraw all of my account, they said there is a 10 percent withdrawal fee plus other charges since the effective date is the date of restructuring -- Feb. 5, 1996. But my policy was issued in August 1986, 11 years ago. Do I have to pay all the charges they mention?

Probably, and definitely yes on the withdrawal or "surrender" fee, according to Jim Mzyk, the state Insurance Divisions' deputy liquidator. Call him at 536-1771 for specifics.

The state seized Investor's Equity in 1994 after it ran up a $90 million deficit, then looked for another company to take over the policies. Hartford offered the best deal, Mzyk said. In a court hearing in July 1995, the assumption agreement was explained and policy holders all got a copy of that agreement, he said.

"We've been fortunate" that all accounts were fully funded as of August -- in two years instead of the seven to 10 years initially estimated, Mzyk said. When policy holders saw the accounts fully funded, some, like you, moved to withdraw.

The reinstated surrender charge is "industry practice and very normal," Mzyk said. It was something the state had to agree to. Otherwise, there was no incentive for Hartford to assume the accounts if policy holders could just withdraw their accounts as soon as they become fully funded, he said.

This is spelled out in a copy of the court-approved agreement given to all policy holders, he said.

Do you have an address for Scott Hamilton?

Hamilton, the popular ice skater who is recovering from testicular cancer, is receiving cards and notes c/o Michael Sterling & Associates, 4242 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91403-3710. If you want a photo, write to his agent Kevin Albrecht, Scott Hamilton International Management Group, 1 St. Clair Ave., East Suite #700, Toronto, ON Canada M4T 2V7.

What benefits are there in the following food ingredients that I have seen on labels stapled to li hing mui powder: "phenylketonurics: contains phenylalanine?"

You'll find those words on products usually containing the artificial sweetener, aspartame (known mostly as NutraSweet).

They're there as a warning to those who might not be able to metabolize phenylalanine, an amino acid found in aspartame.

"All newborns in the United States are screened for PKU (phenylketonurias)," explained a state public health nutritionist. If PKU is not diagnosed right away, within the first 21 days of life, babies can develop mental retardation and other complications.

Children with PKU -- nine have been diagnosed in Hawaii -- cannot ingest anything containing phenylalanine, such as diet soda or preserved sweets, many of which are sweetened with NutraSweet, the nutritionist said.

That would not be a problem for the rest of us, however, she said.

Free Copier

To a nonprofit group: Lanier copying machine; needs servicing. Call 536-6107.


To Stan who stopped to help me with a desk I bought. He was the only one who saw me struggling along Kinau Street (on a hot day!) with this desk, which I was carrying to my apartment many blocks away. We loaded it into his car and drove to my place. You are a true saint, Stan. -- John

New gravesite policy

The Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe now allows only three vases per gravesite. Officials said more than that hampers maintenance. Call 235-1596.

See expanded coverage in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
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Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to kokualine@starbulletin.com

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