June 1 Deadline Looming for Prudential Policyholders

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla., May 2, 1997 -- Weiss Ratings, Inc., an independent insurance rating agency, is offering a free advisory report to Prudential Insurance customers who must act before June 1 if they want to participate in a $410 million class action settlement. The settlement is designed to compensate policyholders for deceptive sales practices spanning over a decade.

"In an attempt to lure its policyholders away from participating in the settlement, Prudential is offering them the carrot of 'enhanced' insurance products which they would have to purchase in addition to their existing policies," commented Weiss Ratings' founder, Martin Weiss. "However, in its mailing to policyholders, Prudential is excluding the information consumers need to make an informed decision about these purchases."

As a result, policyholders have no way of knowing the true tradeoff between participating in the class settlement and purchasing an "enhanced" product; and a phone call to the independent Claimant Support Team does not clarify this issue. Policyholders are simply told that they will receive the product specifications after they've made a choice.

In order to help consumers make a more informed decision, Weiss Ratings is offering a free report to all Prudential policyholders. In it, Weiss advises:

1. If you are a Prudential policyholder, try to determine if you were among the estimated 10 million customers misled by Prudential's sales practices in the 14 years between January 1982 and December 1995. This may have occurred in several ways: The sales agent may have tried to convince you to buy a new policy using the cash value of an existing policy.

He may have lead you to believe that, in a short period of time, your policy dividend would be high enough to pay your policy premiums for you. Or he may have given you the impression that you were purchasing an investment product rather than a life insurance policy.

2. If you feel you were misled along these lines -- or in any other way -- you should seriously consider participating in the settlement. Simply check the option "ADR Process" on the Election Form. Even if you are unsure, or feel you do not have strong evidence to back your claim, you probably should select this option or you will be waiving your rights to any compensation.

3. If you are reasonably sure that you have never been deceived by the Prudential agent, you should request further information on the "enhanced value" policies offered by Prudential. However, when you receive that information, do not buy the product before careful consideration of several factors: First, do you really need any more insurance? Second, is this truly a better deal than what you can receive from a competing company? Third, can you get equivalent insurance from a higher rated company?

Weiss Ratings has never included Prudential among its recommended companies (those rated B+ or better); and it currently gives Prudential a B- rating due to its exposure to junk bonds and mortgages, and due to operating losses in recent years.

The 4-page report -- entitled "What Consumers Should Do About The Class Action Settlement Against Prudential" -- is available free of charge to all consumers. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Weiss Ratings, Inc., 4176 Burns Road, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410.

Because the deadline is looming, consumers may order the report over the phone by calling 1-800-289-9222 and by paying $2 with their credit card to cover postage and handling.

15430 Endeavour Drive, Jupiter, FL 33478 · (561) 627-3300 · www.weissratings.com