I’ve been receiving questions about Eliot Spitzer lately; frankly I don’t know why, but it’s a very interesting story. Attorney Spitzer was the Attorney General in New York (1999 – 2006) who was just short of bringing criminal charges against UnumProvident when it was decided to issue a Multi-State Settlement instead.
I am able to tell this story because I contributed to the AG’s case and worked with member’s of Spitzer’s office against Unum when it became known what the company was doing to deliberately deprive insureds of legitimate benefits. While AG Spitzer in New York sought to prosecute Unum’s insurance felonies, John Garamendi, Insurance Commissioner in California, was calling Unum, a criminal organization.
As Attorney General, Spitzer was a true advocate for insureds in all lines of insurance and sought to “clean up” the insurance industry by holding insurers accountable for unfair claims practices and “bad faith” claim reviews. Although UnumProvident was just one of the companies Spitzer was prosecuting at the time, Unum was the most egregious case and a great deal of time and effort was dedicated to collecting evidence to criminally charge UnumProvident.
Let’s face it, the Multi-State Unum investigations took place over 20 years ago, but many people today still don’t realize the large numbers of insureds harmed by Unum Life insurance and the merger that took place with Paul Revere and the Provident Companies. Harold Chandler and his henchmen team denied thousands of legitimate payable claims.
In order to bring criminal charges against Unum, Spitzer’s office, like all lawyers prosecuting criminal cases, went on a search for documents proving Unum was deliberately engaged in criminal conspiracies to deny payable benefits. I was involved with Spitzer’s office in providing evidence and what documents I had at the time.
At this time there was the NY AG, the U.S. Department of Labor and 48 states with pending investigations against Unum. Shortly before the re-election of baby Bush word came down that these offices and agencies were throwing in the towel on their own investigations in favor of a Multi-State Settlement Agreement.
Spitzer’s office was clearly upset. The U.S. Department of Labor immediately disavowed any investigation had ever taken place, (after I had provided it documents and given an interview), and all but two states fined Unum $15 M along with a requirement to “reassess” 250,000+ files.
A few years later, Eliot Spitzer made some pretty awful mistakes in his personal life, but that should not take away from the fact that he was the only Attorney General who was willing to criminally prosecute Unum for its wrongdoing. You have to give him that.
In fact, in my opinion Attorney Spitzer is one the most prominent legal insurance advocates for fairness in the evaluation of disability claims and many insureds should be grateful to him for starting the process of holding Unum accountable.