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Laughing at youSome years back one of my investigators read the Facebook pages of many of Unum’s claims handlers and managers and discovered the following comment on a managers page: “Insureds are like slinkys, they aren’t worth anything, but you sure do like to see them tumble down the stairs once in awhile.”

Wow. That’s some unsympathetic attitude wouldn’t you say? In reality, that’s not the worst thing Unum’s reps say about insureds, nor is it the only “laughs last” comment Unum’s reps and their managers make. In my opinion, Unum isn’t the only laughing cow either, since DMS is a habitual offender in considering disability a hilarious joke.

One of Unum’s managers was overheard saying this about an insured with a claimed disability of chemical and environmental sensitivity: “Let’s tie this claimant to a tree, and see if she’s still alive in a week. If so, she’s not disabled.” And, “Tell them to go sit in a bubble! What a joke.”

And while Unum generally targets physical disability as “mental and nervous”, stress, anxiety and depression claims are predetermined to either be false, or limited to much shorter payment periods than 24 months. The ultimate hypocrisy lives large in most disability companies.

A claimant’s M&N claim was denied because a surveillance team caught him (and taped it) having sex in the woods. Although I’m not a psychologist by any means, seems to me that it might be good for someone who is depressed to be “socially active.”

When insurance reps are told, “I have good days and bad days”, the eyes roll, and the grinning begins. It is presumed by insurers that everyone, even healthy people, have good and bad days. And, the jokers come out of hiding, “Hey Joe!”, one rep calls over his cubicle, “Are you have a good day or a bad day? Maybe you should go out on disability.”

There is a general underlying perception by most insurers that “every one gets depressed sometimes”, and that claimants just need to “get over it.” Fibromyalgia insureds, “should get themselves on the treadmill and get some exercise, they would feel better. FMS people are lazy and want disability to support them.”

The one Unum laugh I found most offensive was Unum presuming people from the South were slow and not as intelligent as others. As one manager put it, “Slow down when you speak with these people, they won’t understand you if you talk faster than they can think. You know, third grade educations and all.” At one time, there were actual executive memos that went out directing all Unum’s reps to target “people from the South” for settlements, and “speak slower to them so they will understand you.”

A laughing DMS manager was overhead by a cognitively impaired insured say, ” I just spoke to him; he seemed fine to me!” (Thankfully, medical disability isn’t up to the laughing managers!)

There are many, many more examples I could give, but I think you get the picture here. The internal perspectives of claims handlers are important to insureds because they paint a picture of unwritten bias and prejudice, not to mention disrespect and misplaced joviality that does reflect whether claims reviews are conducted in a fair and objective manner.

Insurance managers do not “correct” the laughing and grinning but actually contribute to an internal environment that “pokes fun” of customers. Finally, Unum and other companies who engage in such conduct are well aware of the vulnerability of those who are ill, and use it to make people afraid and ashamed to be asking for disability benefits.

The goading is also pretty awful lately with Unum’s reps saying things like, “Stop bitching about your claim!”, or, “Why don’t you just stop and go back to work?” And, “You should go back to work now because we’re going to deny your claim shortly.” The intent is always to cause you to be fearful so that you will honor every request even when the request is not contractual, or unreasonable.

For me to recommend that insureds not allow themselves to be affected by this would also be insensitive for me to say. No one likes to be “laughed at” and there is always an emotional price to those who are. You don’t need this just because you have a disability claim.

The important thing to remember is always communicate with insurers in writing only, since claims reps are far less likely to “laugh in your face” when officially documenting for the record. Remember, you will actually have time to think about your responses if responding in writing rather than spontaneously over the phone.

But yeah, insurers do laugh, but fortunately for insureds, it’s sometimes the “last laugh”.