The Associated Press reports that the Obama administration will make changes to boost consumer protection for workers and family members, including claims for disability insurance policies.
The Labor Department wants to fix the current appeals process for disability and health insurance as governed by ERISA (the Employment Retirement Income Security Act). ERISA was first put into place to protect worker’s retirement funds from unscrupulous employers, but the insurance industry discovered that under the law, it has long been used as a way to make disability claim appeals next to impossible for the ordinary policy owner to negotiate.
We applaud the president’s decision to fix a problem that affects millions of Americans every year. The disability appeals process is a minefield of problems that are baffling to consumers, and the deck always seems stacked in favor of the insurance company.
But before the celebrations begin, a few solemn thoughts – the insurance industry is one of the single most powerful lobbying groups on Capitol Hill. Just as the health insurance bill was delayed as it became mired in lobbying efforts and strategic maneuvers, it is likely that this consumer rights bill will face the same fate. Expect disability insurance and health care insurance appeals to receive a lot of attention in the national press over the next six months.
We hope that the reported bright lights of potential reform will have an impact on the insurance companies, who have fought tooth and nail for their right to deny and delay disability claims with no downside for their shareholders.
But if you have a disability claim that is being denied, or your disability insurance claims are being delayed with repeated requests for more information, we urge you not to wait until this legislation is passed. Reform could be a long time coming, and there is no way to know for sure what the ultimate result will be.
If you have a disability claim and can’t wait for the new rules in the spring, call our office. We have helped many American workers whose rights to a fair and just treatment by a disability insurance company have been trampled on by uncaring insurance companies. Call us today to learn how we can help you.