Years ago, although disability insurers were unscrupulous with their claims management, customer service and verbal communication was a priority. In fact, at one time Unum, for example, demanded its claims specialist sign an “oath”, if you can believe that, promising to provide excellent customer service.
Today, claims handlers are engaging in dialog that is disingenuous and disrespectful to their insureds and claimants. I’ve been told by several insureds that claims handlers are saying things like, “I don’t know why you can’t work?”, or, “You should be getting back to work!”
To begin, claims handlers are not qualified to make statements about your ability to work. Second, it’s not their decision because only primary treating physicians can credibly report on functional capacity for work. Claims handlers should not comment on any claims issue since they are not held accountable for final decision-making on any claim. Managers “validate” any recommendations made, but in the end, it is a claims manager who decides whether or not claims should be paid.
The solution, of course, is to request all communications in writing. I guarantee you claims handlers will not put their rudeness, or judgments officially in writing and insureds will have less to internalize as insult or rudeness. Some claims handlers can be a piece of work to deal with.
That’s because companies like Unum recruit A-Type Personalities who supposedly won’t “give away the farm” as claims handlers. Still, a fiduciary is a fiduciary. Common sense will also tell you that common decency and concern toward the disabled is a humane thing to do.
Therefore, do yourselves a favor and request (in writing) that you communicate with your insurers only in writing. Don’t give insurers the verbal opportunity to offend, it’s not necessary.