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GaslightingApparent in our current insurance industry is a growing  percentage of disability claim insureds who seem to accept, and act upon, perceptions about disability claims, after having been “gaslighted” by the very companies they depend on for financial support.

“Gaslighting”, taken in the context of insurance and disability claims is a tactic used by insurers to cause insureds to question their own disability and realities concerning impairment, work capacity, SSDI, as well as personal values. The overall goal is for insurers to gain more control so that those they owe benefits to will be willing to do whatever is requested, even when insurers do not have a right to the request.

 As one of Unum’s VPs once said, “Although our insureds may not agree with our denials, we want them to say, “We understand why you did it.”

If any of the below sounds familiar to you, it might be a good idea to think about why you believe what you do. Gaslighting is so subtle, repetitive, and slow that it may take some time to understand why you now believe what you do about your insurance company and representative.

Signs of insurance “gaslighting”:

Insurance companies tell blatant lies.

Insurance companies don’t mind misrepresenting information because once you realize you’ve been lied to, you are unsure of what to believe in the future. The goal is to keep you unsteady, and off your game so that you won’t make waves or legally challenge unfavorable decisions. When Unum informs you, “We are requesting a copy of your SSDI file in order to give your claim every possible consideration”, you are being “gaslighted” to think Unum acts in your best interests.

Insurance reps deny they ever said something, even though you have proof. 

This is the primary reason why DCS never recommends that insureds speak with claims handlers on the phone. You know the rep said it, you may even have proof that they said it, but the company will never admit to it, conversations aren’t documented, and. insureds begin to question their own sanity:”Maybe I (or, my doctor) really said that after all.”

Insurance companies always use what is near and dear to you as ammunition. 

Insurance reps understand the importance of children and families and how important they are to those who become disabled. This is why many insurance reps ask you about your family, their ages, and whether or not you babysit grandchildren. Insurance companies criticize female insureds for getting pregnant while on disability and make you feel guilty about anything that defines you as a person. This is another reason why it’s not a good idea to speak to insurers on the phone. In addition, sharing family information with physicians can wind up in patient notes read by insurers. The goal is to attack the foundations of your values and what you believe.

Insurers wear you down over time.

This is one of the most unfortunate applications of insurance gaslighting since it’s done gradually, over the life of the claim. Your reps report a little lie here, then a another there, followed by a snide remark, “You should go back to work”, and then requests for more and more information ramps up. Even the most educated, intelligent insureds can be vulnerable to gaslighting – the technique is that effective. Insureds are literally, “the frog in the frying pan” in that when the heat is turned up slowly, the frog never realizes what’s happening to it.

Insurer’s actions do not match what they say.

The best defense to the “gaslighting” tactic is to know what the insurance company is doing internally rather than what they are communicating, which is really just regurgitation of policy provisions and scare tactics. What insurance companies say doesn’t really mean all that much, it’s just gab. However, what they are doing within the claims process is what can result in a denied claim.

Insurance reps always throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you. 

So, let’s take a hard look here. After challenging the credibility of your claim by doing everything possible to find the weakest link to deny it, the claims handler throws in praise for something you did. In fact, the claims handler who calls, “just to check in with you” and gives you the impression he/she cares, leads you to believe, “well maybe they’re not so bad”. Uh, yes they are!

Handing off praise while taking all necessary measures to obtain documentation supporting denial is a calculated attempt to keep you off kilter, and cause you to once again question what’s really going on. If you take a closer look at the praise actually said to you, it becomes obvious the praise was about something that was of benefit to the gaslighter.

“Gaslighting” clearly is not an issue many insureds think about, or even know about in the claims management process. Insurance companies are smart, and know exactly what they’re doing.

This is what worries me, to think that insureds may have no idea.