From my perspective it often seems as though the public perception of disability insurance hasn’t changed since I first started writing a column in Jim Mooney’s “Inside UnumProvident” Newsletter in 2001.
At that time in the midst of the Unum Multi-State Settlement Agreement, it quickly became apparent there was so much disinformation out there that many insureds were risking benefits by unknowingly using “old wives tales” to support claims.
Recently, during the lock-down I’ve had opportunities to speak with various insureds on the phone and overall, it seems to me insureds are still using information accessed on the Internet, provided by well-intending friends, and most disturbingly from attorneys who have not thoroughly reviewed the claims before giving advice.
Let me begin by saying that the Internet is not a good place to do “research” because everyone has a “sad story.” Forums like the “Disability Forum” are run by agents who still maintain connections to the insurance industry, either through sales or underwriting. I found that the people on the Disability Forum give half answers to questions until you agree to come on board as a client.
In the old days my Dad used to say, “It’s in the paper it must be true!” Today, nothing is true, neither on the Internet, nor newspapers until fact checked. The idea of recommending to insureds that they “fact check” every piece of insurance information seems a good one given the times in which we live.
The primary source of “fact checking” is of course the policy contract or the group Plan. You may be surprised to know that many claimants/insureds file claims without ever having read the policy contract or Plan. In most instances, they may not even have a copy of it.
Considering that the only relationship existing between an insured and an insurance company is what is written in the policy contract, it’s bizarre that insureds take what the insurance company says as gospel without ever fact checking the information in the policy. Bottom line, the Internet is now very similar to the “National Inquirer” and should not be taken as absolute fact for disability claim management.
As mentioned, the Internet is also unreliable because every claim is unique and one set of circumstances cannot be used to manage other claims. In like vein, other employee peer claims are never the same as all others. Just because one peer did this, or that, doesn’t mean the same applies to all same employer claims.
I really don’t know what to say about attorney misinformation other than to be painfully honest. Attorneys, in my opinion, are not great disability claim managers. Personal injury law and worker’s compensation are two separate and distinct specialities from ERISA or IDI disability. Just because a person is an attorney does NOT mean he/she is experienced in disability claims.
Then too, in my experience, there are some attorneys who take on disability case management claims who do absolutely nothing to “keep” benefits, but wait until benefits are denied to go to court. This is where their money is. Has anyone out there ever hired an attorney who never really did anything? Insureds tell me this over and over again.
The point is, that it appears to me that there is as much misinformation out there today as there was in 2001. And…..that is very sad indeed. Please be careful who you listen to and be reluctant to accept advice without fact checking with your policies and Plans.