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Posts Tagged ‘Insurance questionnaires and forms’

Disability insurance companies thrive on information. In fact, insurers, assured that everyone who files a claim is dishonest, are paranoid that there is adverse information about you they don’t yet have.

There are only two ways insurers can obtain information about their insureds and claimants. First, they can engage in extensive surveillance and investigation, or they can ask you, or the people you know.

One form of “asking” is to require insureds to complete written “Questionnaires” that are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Unum’s update forms, for example, ask the age-old question, “Describe a typical day.” The truth is, those who are disabled rarely have “typical days” and have difficulty trying to describe patterns of living when they don’t exist.

Unfortunately, most insureds follow human nature (mostly in fear) and attempt to fill up the entire space allotted with information. This is exactly what Unum wants you to do even though it’s exactly the wrong response.

I think it’s fair to say that unless you are working and have unreported earnings, what you do with your day is not relevant to your claim or policy. The tendency of most people is to provide descriptions that include, “I get up in the. morning and have my orange juice, I use the computer, I watch TV, I go for a walk, I do my exercises, sleep for 4 hours etc.”

Some people include information used by insurers for immediate denial, such as, “I babysit my grandchildren, go out to dinner, I’m writing a book, set up for yard sale”, and the like. Some questionnaires are more detailed and want to know if you do laundry, mow lawns, grocery shop, hours spent on the computer etc. Disability insurance companies need to have this information so they can assess your work capacity and send your claim to the denial pile.

In my opinion, disability insurance questionnaires are designed by idiots. Since most activities currently asked about have nothing to do with policy definitions, wouldn’t it be more helpful to insurers to ask questions that DO matter? (Insurance management reading my Blog pay close attention here, you may get a spot award for these ideas!)

For the first 24 months, how about these questions?

  • Based on your last medical consultation with your treating physician what prior job tasks are you still unable to perform?
  • What treatment plan has your doctor discussed with you that includes a return to work in your own occupation?
  • Is your employer holding your job open for your return? Have you discussed a return to work with your employer? Is your employer supportive of return to work?
  • What needs to change in order for you to be able to return to work in your own occupation? (This question IS sometimes included on questionnaires.)

I really hate sometimes to give suggestions to insurance companies, but doesn’t it make more sense to ask questions that will encourage insureds to return to work, rather than trying to get them to admit they walk their dogs and do their laundry?

After 24 months questionnaires could be more relevant to the situation like:

  • Have you contacted SSA to request a copy of its “Red Book” describing return to work programs? Are you aware of SSA’s liberal return to work programs and the fact that you can work part-time while receiving SSDI?
  • Are you medically able to perform some gainful work at home that could earn part-time income and contribute to your financial support?
  • Do you need information concerning SSA’s part-time work criteria?

I think you get the point I’m trying to make. Right now insurance questionnaires aren’t designed to return claimants and insureds to work, but to challenge their credibility with deceptively obtained “snoop dogging.”

It is also true that if insurers where to ask the above suggested questions, they would also need to train their claims handlers to use the information in ways that could help people return to work. Insurers don’t want to take the time, or spend the money to do that.

Currently, insurance forms and questionnaires ask the wrong questions for the wrong reasons. Don’t fall into the trap of “filling up the page with details.” Answer truthfully what you are asked and nothing more.

Still, in my. opinion its lunacy to keep asking insureds whether they do their own laundry, walk the dog, and buy groceries. If only insurance companies were to use their heads and really try to help people perhaps they would have healthier bottom lines.

 

 

 

 

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