Unum Group has been in business long enough to develop internal strategies designed to encourage customer frustration, anger, complexity and ultimate despair among the American middle class. In my opinion Unum’s management considers paying claims a “profitability crime” and those who file claims, criminals.
The company’s core product, namely employer group STD/LTD, is purchased by American and UK employers as part of good faith employee benefit packages that immediately turn sour once claims are filed. Good insurance companies pay claimants what is promised rather than stabbing customers in the back when they file claims. Unfortunately, Unum’s mantra has always been to deny legitimate claims at the expense of those who mistakenly look toward its products as financial security.
From the tone of Unum’s letters to the “slinky” attitudes of its representatives, Unum Group remains the most egregious disability insurance company in the world. It’s reputation as an “unlawful” organization prevails even in the United Kingdom where Brits continue to work toward eliminating Unum’s government and parliamentary influence to de-socialize the country’s welfare and health programs.
Here in America, Unum’s deliberate targeting of ERISA claims and enforcement of “discretionary authority” attempts to put the American working middle class out on the street without disability benefits, and in many cases health care. Without recognizing that it is the working middle class that keeps American running, large corporations such as Unum work deliberately to “do as much harm as they can” in order to gain a few more pennies in shareholder value.
Although the original intent of the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 was to provide federal protection against employer discrimination in welfare and cafeteria plans, Republican judges have systematically eroded any legal protections decent middle class working Americans might have had in protecting their interests to fair and objective claim review. In fact, an attorney recently shared with me that it’s more and more difficult to get judges to award attorney’s fees much less win an ERISA case.
While wealthier executives, physicians, dentists and highly paid workers can afford to pay the expensive premiums for Individual Disability Protection with state jurisdictions, most ERISA folks find themselves without protection from insurers that deny claims unfairly and then refuse to overturn claims on appeal. Unum has always been considered the largest disability insurer no one should depend upon.
Working people in America need a decent break. Although the middle class carries the highest tax burden and pays America’s bills, it is downtrodden by corporations such as Unum who take advantage of claimants at every opportunity by denying legitimate, compensable claims. Claimant’s are put through a harassing, and guilt-ridden claims review process with attitudes such as, “you’re the working class….so WORK!” Also, Unum’s targeting strategies looking for the “biggest bang for the buck” put high-value reserve claims on a fast track to unsubstantiated denials.
Although middle class ERISA claimants should not allow themselves to be intimidated by Unum’s tendency to make them fearful, within a 20-minute phone conversation a Unum rep can make claimants feel guilty, helpless, and ashamed for filing disability claims at all. Unum’s biased hierarchal medical reviews and harassing calls to treating physicians often causes emotional distress to the point of creating a secondary disability called, “Unum Claim Syndrome.”
What the American middle class fails to understand I think is that disability insurers, including Unum, could not stay in business if employers turned to other less “abusive” insurers such as Mass Mutual, or even The Hartford. Employers often look for cost-effective employee benefit plans and do not “check out” Unum’s reputation prior to setting up company benefit packages.
Employees have a right to provide employers with feedback about their Unum experience although most employees do not exercise this right. Unionized shops should clearly be informed of Unum’s “bad faith” so that Union reps can place pressure on employers to seek out alternatives at the next annual enrollment period.
Finally, claimants should never allow anyone or entity to make them feel guilty, frustrated or depressed for filing a disability claim. Employers sell disability Plans to their employees as employment benefits and insurers have an obligation to treat you and your claim as a “benefit”, not an outstanding debt. Those who stand up in support of their benefits will receive benefits longer than those who are fearful and give in to every Unum request regardless of how unreasonable it is.
Claimants can easily regain the dignity insurers such as Unum rob them of. Unum can be put into perspective and made to treat you with the respect you deserve.
It may take the middle class some time to “get their Dixie cups back”, but when they do egregious insurers such as Unum will be held accountable to pay claims fairly. Don’t allow Unum Group to treat you any less because you are an ERISA claimant and a member of America’s working middle class. You pay the bills in this country and it’s time to get a little pay back.