Does anyone remember when information was presumed to be accurate when it “was written in a newspaper?” I know my father used to say, “Of course it’s true, it’s right here in the paper.” Clearly, that’s not true today, and particularly not true of the Internet.
While the Internet can be helpful as a source of already confirmed information, when it comes to disability claims/insurance, the only thing that can be true is insureds wind up reading horror stories posted by others describing “worst case scenarios” that may or may not be accurate. Taking this information immediately from the Internet and interjecting it into one’s own claim is a really big mistake since someone else’s “worst case scenario” will quickly be yours if you aren’t careful.
The Disability Form, for example is run by Administrators who continue to work for the insurance industry and won’t give you complete answers adverse to insurance. I quickly moved off of that site since in my opinion, those who give disability claims advice should “pick a side” and stick with it. Talking out of both sides of one’s mouth doesn’t work in this profession.
Social media and chat rooms are also not good sources of disability claims information. I went to several of the YouTube attorney videos and found multiple errors not only regarding claims and appeals, but just general information about the management of claims. I used to send these attorneys corrected information I thought they should know, but never heard back, and they didn’t change their videos.
Several times a year a few readers will send a comment or two about “how do I know I’m right” with the information I write about. Well, let’s see……I spent 9 years at Unum most of which was as a claims handler. I also spent two and a half years as a Compensation Specialist managing stock option transactions for the top 26 Senior VPs and CEO Jim Orr III. I spent at least three years working only with Plaintiff’s attorneys as an Expert Witness and my Federal Rule 26 records indicate I attended 85 depositions including sworn testimonies concerning disability claims.
Later, I created DCS, Inc. and began to work exclusively for insureds, attempting to provide much needed assistance one claim at a time. Keeping my foot in the legal door, I continue to this day to work with attorneys providing me access to claim file copies, insurance communications, and conversations with insureds. These files come from all of the U.S. insurers, therefore, I have access across a large spectrum of information regarding how these companies manage claims.
During the Multi-State Settlement Agreement I worked with Eliot Spitzer’s office in New York, John Garamendi in California, and the U.S. Department of Labor to hold Unum accountable for its unfair management of claims. As a result overall Unum was required to pay fines of $15M for the 48 States and another $8M in California. I was also an Expert Witness in the qui tam case Loughren vs. Unum dealing with SSDI.
I have been in business as a Consultant now for 25 years, have insurance alphabet soup after my name, and am licensed as a Life & Health Consultant to do what I do. I guess all of this means I’m not exactly “chopped liver” when it comes to providing insureds with accurate information. No, I don’t know it all, but people trust that when I given them answers to their questions they are getting an accurate “scoop” concerning disability insurance. Clearly, my education and experience in the industry leans in that direction.
I’m mentioning all this to make the point that not everyone posting on the Internet has this kind of exposure and experience. When I write articles for Lindanee’s Blog I try to communicate information in a generic way so as not to suggest that everything I write about will affect every reader’s claim. Every disability claim is different and just because your co-worker had one set of circumstances doesn’t mean you will also. It is surprising, though, how many email comments I receive telling me, “You were right…..my insurer is doing this very same thing to me.” Sometimes, I really hate to be right.
The Internet is not necessarily an accurate resource for information concerning YOUR claim and it clearly shouldn’t be used collectively as an instruction book on how to manage claims. Yet, I continue to receive phone calls from insureds who are really scared because they read a few bad stories “on the Net.”
In my opinion, the Internet is a glorified National Inquirer when it comes to disability insurance, because “everyone has a story”, and it’s usually a really bad one. If you are looking for “best practices” information trust the people who know….look at their experience, training and education in insurance and then decide for yourself whether the information from them is credible or not.
All good intentions aside, friends, neighbors and family members, although trying to help, probably know as much about disability insurance as you do. I’m hoping those who read this article will give some thought to what the Internet really is, and simply “consider the source.”