How Much Information Access is Too Much?
Monday, December 10th, 2018
“I filed a disability claim and signed a document that gave the company the right to get information about me, which I thought was fine – until I started getting requests for everything from my personal finances to my transcripts from college. How much information do they need, and how much am I supposed to give them?”
This is a challenge we face alongside our clients on a regular basis. The disability insurance company would like complete and total access to every single piece of information on their claimants. We believe that is to further their case for a claim denial. One of the first things we do when representing claimants is to have them provide us with any authorizations for information that come to them from the disability insurance company.
Claimants are required to provide certain types of information. That is in the policy that you signed when you purchased the disability insurance. But when you file a claim, the insurance company asks for an authorization to provide additional information, and the scope is usually extremely broad.
You have to give authorization for the insurance company to review your medical records, test results and other medical information. They also want to see non-medical information about your employment history, earnings, credit history, education, academic transcripts (as above) and even your personnel records.
That seems intrusive, doesn’t it?
But it gets worse. The broad authorization will give the insurance company the right to contact financial institutions, including your bank, credit card company, credit rating companies, and others.
The problem you run into, particularly in the absence of legal representation, is knowing if you can push back, and how hard you can push back. Push back too hard, and the insurance company may tell you that you are not complying with the policy’s provision to cooperate as the claim is being processed. But you do have rights.
Frankel & Newfield has worked with numerous claimants who are scared about losing their benefits, but don’t feel comfortable handing over their entire life’s history to the insurance company’s adjusters. We think it is wise to restrict the authorization to medical information only, and engage in a dialogue with the insurance company on our client’s behalf regarding non-medical information.
The problem comes when an inexperienced person in the middle of the emotional and physical grip of a disability cannot successfully negotiate this kind of point of fact with the insurance company. In laymen’s terms, you could easily lose control of your emotions, and that’s when the insurance company wins.
We also advise our clients not to allow the insurance company to have any telephone conversations with our client’s treating physicians or health care providers. This is based on many years of experience. These conversations are skillfully handled by the insurance company’s representatives, whether they are doctors or claims adjusters. The conversations are guided to achieve the goal of denying a claim. In some cases the discussion is not reported correctly, and when a summary letter of the conversation is received, we are faced with a treating physician who had no idea her words were going to be used against her patient.
This is one of many aspects to disability insurance claims that an inexperienced layperson is not expecting, and not prepared for. For that reason, we advise anyone with a disability insurance claim to speak with an experienced disability insurance attorney, if possible before filing a claim. The stakes are simply too high to go it alone.
If you have a question about your disability claim, please call our office at 877-583-2524.