WRAL Investigates

Pizza parlor owners seek refund from AIG

Posted April 6, 2009

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— The state Department of Insurance is tracking a dispute between the owners of two Cary pizza parlors and insurance giant AIG.

American International Group owes Ruckus Pizza owners Robert and Ashley Royster $2,261 after they overpaid on their 2008 worker's compensation insurance premium.

Ruckus Pizza AIG financial crisis hits Cary restaurants

AIG received $182 billion in federal bailout support – U.S. taxpayers now owns about 80 percent of the company – and its executives have been grilled on Capitol Hill and in the media in recent weeks after awarding hundreds of millions in bonuses to managers who crafted the financial instruments that led the company to the brink of failure.

"So not only are they using my money from the bailout, they're using my refund money as well to continue floating their business," Ashley Royster said. "I feel like they're holding my money back because I'm one of the little fish. For them, it's $2,200. Well, for me, that's an entire payroll period.

"I want my refund check."

AIG initially notified the Roysters about the pending refund in January. When weeks passed with no check in the mail, Ashley Royster said she called the company's customer service desk to inquire about it and was stunned by the response.

"(The woman said) 'If you haven't realized or if you haven't watched the news recently, AIG is in a $1 billion money crunch,'" Royster said. "She said, 'You'll get your refund when you get it.'"

AIG representatives didn't return repeated calls for comment.

State Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin said the Roysters have waited long enough for their refund.

"We are watching very closely what AIG does," Goodwin said, adding the department cannot take formal action against the company unless a complaint is filed.

"We would want folks to call the Department of Insurance immediately so that we can get a response within seven days of what needs to be done and then get the monies back that are owed," he said.

The DOI received 11,000 formal complaints last year and recovered more than $10 million from insurance companies, Goodwin said.

"Every dollar counts, and we will fight just as hard for $2,200 as we would for $22 million," he said.

People experiencing a problem with an insurance company can call the DOI toll-free at 1-800-546-5664 or file a formal complaint through the department's Consumer Services Division.


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  • wynnediii Apr 7, 2009

    If AIG went bankrupt...the subsideries would be sold. The new owner would have to honor contracts they bought. If no one bought them....Worst case scenario, the NC guarantee association would be up to $300,000 as a death claim.

    Also as far as AIG withholding a refund...it sounds like they learned this from our State revenue dept.

  • Milkman Apr 7, 2009

    Insurance is legalized gambling. And BCBS is the biggest crook of them all. BCBS is a non-profit, so they spend all this money on ads because they can. They collude with the other insurers to keep health insurance expensive (try shopping around, everyone is within $10 a month of the same price) but try not having health insurance. Woof.

    With AIG, if you're doing business with them and you can stop doing business with them, then that might be a good call.

    As for the state not paying the tax refunds, they have until June 1 I think, they'll be caught up by then or they have to pay interest. Unless they change the law at the last minute.

  • dogman1973 Apr 7, 2009

    Agree with TheLibertine.....if you are late with your payment to insurance companies, they will drop you without even a notice. As for BCBS, they are great when you don't use them, but dare to use them, they will make a penny squeal!

  • Piny tek Apr 7, 2009

    I carry life insurance with AIG and am wondering if anything would happen to this giant company and it goes down then what? I need to check with the dept of insurance if I would get anything and if not I should start shopping. The problem is am now older and my premium would be higher than what am currently paying them.

  • White Eagle Apr 7, 2009

    So the State is going to force AIG to respond and refund the money because the owners have waited long enough! Now if that's not the pot calling the kettle black. I'm still waiting for the State to send me my tax refund check! Who do I call?

  • pleshy Apr 7, 2009

    Milkman raises and interesting question. If a creditor has information that his debtor is or may become insolvent, he can petition the bankruptcy court for an involuntary bankruptcy. That might be a fun game to try with AIG in this instance. They clearly are subject to jurisdiction in NC, go on down to the Fed. BAnkruptcy Court and petition for an involuntary filing and see what happens. Serving the petition might at the very least put a spring in AIG's step.

  • shellbelle Apr 7, 2009

    TheLibertine - I agree. The insurance co. expects payment on time, and if they don't get it... you're out of luck. NO SOUP FOR YOU!

    So, now the insurance co. says about the overpayment return - you'll get it when ya get it! ppppffffttttt

  • TheLibertine Apr 7, 2009

    But if that pizza joint had UNDERpaid their premium by $2200, AIG would've whacked coverage in a heartbeat.

    Insurance companies are evil. Their whole existence is based on a shell game. Look at Blue Cross Blue Shield in our own back yard, running endless ads on the radio against someone who dared speak out against them. They're using all of their mega profits to fund those ads -- why are they so profitable? Because they sure as heck don't provide coverage to their insurees!

  • dbcooper41 Apr 7, 2009

    why is nobody from AIG going to jail? they took money in the form of premiums. they promised to pay out money in the event of claims. now they "claim" to not have enough money to pay their debts. they broke a contract and they broke the law. why no prosecutions?

  • Milkman Apr 6, 2009

    AIG is too big to fail, so the $2200 check won't force them into bankruptcy. I'm sure the person at AIG they talked to that pointed them to the news stories probably got a million dollar bonus as well. Just great....

    The State Dept. of Insurance, in my experience, has always done a great job with customer complaints. Go get 'em!!!