While there is no doubt that all Unum insureds read letters from insurers word for word, it is also true that claims reps do not write the letters but have drop down menus of narrative to choose from. In short, much of Unum’s letters are “constructed” from templates.
Indeed, insurers do not trust claims handlers to cite exact policy provisions on their own, nor does management want claims handlers taking the time to actually type out all of the long letters sent to insureds and claimants.
Instead, most claims specialists do not sift through all of the templates and often include (and possibly exclude) appropriate policy provisions that pertain individually to each insured. Unum insureds should look at their letters carefully. It is easy to tell where the “template inserts” have been made because formats are “off” with too may spaces between paragraphs and other format errors.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve investigated policy provisions cited in Unum’s letters that do not match provisions from policies and Plans for each individual. Short paragraphs actually written by claims handlers contain typing and grammatical errors – another reason why Unum may want their employees to use templates.
Some claims specialists throw in the “right to IME provisions”, many do not. Other claims reps insert most provisions in the policy into the letter whether it is relevant to the topic of the letter or not. Claims reps often think that the longer the letter the more “informative” it is, but the truth is that sending out multiple page letters regurgitating policy provisions is the least effective way to communicate.
Common sense would dictate that disabled persons might understand shorter and to-the-point communications rather than multiple page text regurgitation of policy provisions over and over again. Still, I suspect Unum will defend the repetitious citations as “we want to make sure claimants understand policy provisions and that we have a contractual right to do what we’re doing.”
Well, maybe. Unum often assumes its insureds and claimants are stupid. In many instances, Unum cites policy provisions in its written communications but then in other locations in the letter does, or requests just the opposite. Many denial letters actually document total disability by including favorable language from treating physicians, but then conclude at the end, “We’re not paying your claim.”
What is also interesting about Unum’s written communications is that the letters themselves are “validated” (approved by a manager before they are sent out). With all of the typing, spacing and grammatical errors it makes me wonder if managers “validate” format as well as content.
Of course, in any discussion of Unum, there are also anticipated fear mongering and intimidation effects. Longer, detailed, hard to understand letters create fear to the point that insureds will do anything even when Unum’s requests are unreasonable. Impossible to understand letters allows Unum loopholes to allege, “we informed you, but never had a response.”
Finally, arrogant Unum claims reps like to keep their “big sticks” handy in their written communications, so they can figuratively beat insureds over the head with misinterpreted policy or Plan provisions. I do not recommend trusting Unum’s policy or Plan citations as verbatim from Plans applicable to each insured or claimant.
Unum Group et al is by no means the only disability insurer sending out multi-page letters that force insureds to sift through policy narratives in order to find out what the insurer really wants. Prudential is also a big offender in sending out letters often 6 or 7 pages long, repeating policy provisions over and over again. (Also from templates.)
Most insureds might be tempted to say to Unum, or at least think of saying, “OK Unum, you’ve informed me once, I get it. After that, just tell me what you want.”
DCS recommends that insureds and claimants look for the one or two sentences in a Unum (or any insurer’s) letter that actually makes a request – the rest is pure buzz insureds have seen on multiple occasions.
Common sense tells us that disabled persons would appreciate short, clear and concise communications that are specific about what’s being requested. But, insurance companies are all about the paperwork and to the extent they can make it difficult, it can only be to their advantage if they do.
Don’t be intimidated or fearful of Unum’s lengthy letters – just search for, and underline the one sentence or paragraph that defines what the company wants. The rest is template “insertions” that may or may not pertain to your claim situation.