This is a classic case of mis-selling – providing a consumer with an endowment plan when he really only wanted cover for death.
Insurance payout falls short of expectations (Straits Times Forum)
Selling a pure term of $20k would have earned the agent peanuts. In this case, it is likely the agent knew what she was doing as she combined an endowment with a temporary term plan to give an impression of $20k worth of cover (at least for the first ten years).
She would have got away with what she did and everybody will be none the wiser if the insured had passed away in the first ten years.
While I sympathize with the buyer and agree that most of the fault can be attributed to the agent, I do think that the buyer also needs to bear some responsibility himself. As a buyer, he should look at the benefit illustration carefully before signing. If he had done that, it will be evident he was not buying what he had asked for.
It is possible that the agent is now no longer in the industry and the company concerned now has to clean up the PR mess.