In today’s culture the old adage of “a woman scorned….” plays out when insureds and claimants become embroiled in nasty divorces. In my experience both as a claims specialist and a consultant, female divorcees on occasion take it upon themselves to report their disabled male counterparts to their insurers in an effort to cause termination of benefits (or worse).
The vindictive whistle blowing is more characteristic of female spouses since males are more reluctant to blow the whistle on disabled mothers with children. “You cheated on me, and now I’m going to take everything you’ve got!,” is a common theme when vindictive female spouses contact disability insurers. Anyway, females have court awarded child support and don’t really care if their exes lose disability benefits.
In the past, insurers took telephone calls from ex-spouse whistle blowers with a grain of salt, however, today claims decisions are more likely to be made by money hungry managers who pounce on every “red flag” whether true or not in order to bolster profitability. Chances are, if there is something to whistle blow about, a vindictive spouse will certainly make it happen.
After I posted the “Character Assassination” post I received a call from an insured who confessed to lying to his insurance company about his activities. “My wife’s lawyer spent most of his time questioning me on the stand under oath about my activities, so I had to admit I wasn’t truthful about what I was doing to my insurance company. How much trouble am I in?” “Probably, a great deal”, I told him.
DCS, Inc. supports truthful and honest reporting to insurers. In fact, my clients can attest to the fact I often say, “The truth WORKS!” There is another old adage I support in life in general, “If you don’t do anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about.” Still, deliberately lying to an insurance company is called “insurance fraud” and it is against the law.
As a consultant I do not get involved in client divorces and consider the matter personal and unrelated to claims consulting even when a bitter spouse contacts the insurance company and reports adverse information. Any whistle blowing spouse who contacts the insurance company is viewed as just that…….an ex with a vendetta. While it is true the insurance company will investigate allegations, if most information provided by an ex-spouse is later found to be false, no further attention will be paid to the ongoing complaints.
The worst thing the male spouse can do is call his insurer and attempt to defend what he “thinks” his wife reported. As a former claims handler I received many calls from male ex-spouses defending themselves for information the wives never called about. Although some vindictive spouses threaten to “call the insurance company”, they never really do. Unless the insurance company contacts the male spouse and specifically asks for information, there is absolutely no need for the male spouse to act as crazy as his ex-wife.
While most divorce whistle blowing is later found to be false, some of it actually turns out to be true. If the insurer’s investigation finds false information was provided by the disabled spouse, it is likely the company will report its findings to the state attorney general and the insured could be arrested. Again, insurance fraud is against the law.
Divorce often gets nasty and brings out the worst emotions in people – revenge, anger, vindictiveness. For disabled individuals with something to hide there is no end to the skeletons in the closet that will no doubt emerge as one spouse takes advantage of opportunities to inflict harm and get as much “pay back” as they can.
And by the way, reporting a spouse to his/her disability insurer may be just the beginning. It’s been my experience spouses also report their exes to the IRS if a case can be made there as well. Neighbors often report SSDI recipients to SSA just because their dogs keep barking and running on their lawns. Thus, the old adage, “If you never do anything wrong……” keeps looking even better and better.
In a general sense, insureds and claimants should never “spill their guts” about a divorce to their disability insurers. Even those who are suffering from depression and anxiety because of a divorce should never discuss the “whys, and who did what and when” with claims handlers. Although divorce is a difficult time, for disabled persons it could mean reduction of income if dependent SSDI awards follow the kids to the custodial spouse, as well as loss of home and property.
Finally, disabled spouses might want to discuss a protection order of some kind with their divorce attorneys preventing the other spouse from making false allegations to insurance companies, or anyone else for that matter. As I said earlier, divorce can really get nasty at times.
The best plan of action in a divorce, as it is in life, is to live honestly, tell the truth, and have nothing which can be held against you when life throws you in a ditch. This is particularly true when it comes to filing disability claims and reporting information for future benefits. If there is any kind of dishonesty there at all, a vindictive spouse will likely push that button and you could find yourself still disabled, but in jail.