Uh Oh, Someone Has Sued Suze Orman For Fraud

But not for her advice* or her fashion sense, as you might expect. In addition to doling out advice on TV and in books, Orman is a licensed insurance broker in California, and in 1999 her firm the Suze Orman Financial Group sold some long-term care insurance to Ann Garat, who developed ovarian cancer two years later. When Garat filed a claim, CNA Financial—the issuer of the insurance—rejected it, saying their fine print stipulated it wouldn’t cover care from family members.

Garat died in 2007, but her daughters (who filed the suit) have pointed out that the promotional brochure for the insurance simply said the caregivers “cannot be a member of your immediate family living with you,” not “any family member” as CNA Financial claimed. They also point out that Orman herself says your financial planner should protect you from this sort of thing:

It also cites Orman’s declaration that a person’s financial adviser has the obligation “to make sure you understand all the ramifications of the policy.” The court file contains a 1999 disclosure statement from Orman herself saying she was an “investment adviser” to Garat with a “conflict of interest,” presumably due to a commission she received for the policy sale.

Orman has said that there’s no evidence Garat ever read any of her books, in which case the accusation of fraud shouldn’t stick since Garat presumably wouldn’t have known Orman said any such thing about understanding any ramifications.

The fact that Suze Orman is involved makes this story sound all newsworthy, but the reality is you should never trust 100% what your advisor is saying, unless you feel comfortable putting your future entirely in another person’s hands. Read the fine print, even if it means taking an extra few days to go home and pore over it.

*Which is not to say her advice is bad—it’s very common-sensical and worth following if you don’t already. Her clothing choices are another matter.

“Suze Orman Sued For Fraud” [Forbes]