Over the last twenty or so years I have been writing articles cautioning claimants and insureds from speaking directly on the phone to claims representatives. Unfortunately, I repeatedly get calls from insureds telling me they are speaking with insurance companies on the phone.
To be clear: IT IS NEVER A GOOD IDEA TO SPEAK DIRECTLY WITH CLAIMS HANDLERS ON THE PHONE! If disability insurance were any other business transcation, like buying a car, the majority of people would insist everything be in writing. Insurance companies train their claims handlers to communicate in certain ways – ways that encourage insureds to “open up” and provide information that is not needed to make disability decisions.
Furthermore, it has always been my opinion that any insured who is taking prescribed medication with reported side-effects, or pain and anti-depressive medications, will not be able to accurately respond in a spontaneous way to pointed questions, particularly from reps trained to “set you up.”
It’s not surprising how many times insurance phone calls turn into, “he said….she said” scenarios. Despite what some insurers tell you, calls are not routinely recorded. Unum goes absolutely ballistic if they find out YOU are recording calls because they really don’t.
In addition, claims reps are provided with management approved templates of questions deliberately designed to solicit certain information that can be used adversely to not pay claims. Why do you think insurance companies are so anxious to speak with you all the time?
There are no provisions in any policies or Plans I am aware of that require claimants/insureds to speak directly to claims reps on the phone. As long as you are providing all “proof of claim”, and are answering all questions, (in writing, of course), you do not need to directly speak with claim specialists. Claims specialists are far less rude when you ask them to communicate with you only in writing because they do not want their “unfair tactics” to make it into the claim file or official record.
So, what are claimants/insureds thinking these days? I’m of the opinion it’s the same old “fear demon” sitting on insureds’ shoulders saying, “Your claim will be denied if you don’t speak with your claims handler on the phone!” No insurance company can deny a claim because you request “all communications in writing.” They can deny claims if you fail to provide “proof of claim”, but this information is rarely submitted over the phone anyway.
I hate to say this, but sometimes claimants/insureds need to smarten up and listen to best advice. Recommendations not to speak directly with any claims representative on the phone is the best advice you will hear today.
Request that all communications be forwarded directly to you in writing only, and do not use “website portals” to share information. Requesting “written communications only” is the best thing you can do to protect future benefits.