Most of us receive insurance policies, employee handbooks and all kinds of printed material that are usually stuffed in file drawers and forgotten, until we need them. Then a frantic search begins and if you are very organized or lucky, you find what you need.
If what you are looking for is a disability insurance policy and you cannot find it, you might have a new problem.
Filing a claim without a thorough review of your policy by an experienced long term disability insurance lawyer is, frankly, a risky move. If you have tried to read a contract buying a house, for example, and you are not a real estate attorney, there will be a lot of information that won’t make sense to you. If you try to read a disability insurance policy, we can assure you that you will not understand what you are reading. Some of our clients include insurance attorneys who thought that their experience with contracts in other areas of insurance law would make understanding their policy a snap. Not so.
Time is another factor. There are deadlines for filing, deadlines for appeals, and a variety of deadlines that, if missed, may void your claim permanently or substantially impact your rights to benefits. Disability claims are extremely time sensitive. Once you file a claim, the clock starts ticking.
Disability policies from the past are far different than those sold today. If you were smart enough to buy a policy during the 1990s, you may have a great policy that will protect you and your family in the event of illness or injury. But if you purchased a policy last year, it may not be as thorough or may have a lot of hoops you need to jump through before the disability insurance company will pay your benefits. Or it may contain limitations on the maximum period of benefits for certain conditions.
If you can’t find your policy, you need to be able to identify the policy number and contact your broker, your HR department or, last resort, the disability insurance company to obtain a copy of your original policy. We cannot emphasize this enough – you need the original policy.
Your relationship with the insurance company is simple: you have a contract that they promised to fulfill. But to know what that contract includes, you need a copy of it.
Here are the two key phrases to look for when digging through files to find disability documents: Certificate of Coverage and Summary Plan Description. That’s what you will need to get started.
If you cannot find the policy, or you have the policy and are not sure how to proceed, call our office at 877-LTD-CLAIM (877-583-2524).