WRAL Investigates

Pizza parlor owners seek refund from AIG

Posted April 6, 2009 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated April 6, 2009 7:02 p.m. EDT

— 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.

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.