The latest wave of phone calls and emails to our office are coming from people who had their employee disability policy through Liberty Mutual as part of their employer’s benefits package. They are facing the problem that happens whenever one insurance company buy another insurance company’s book of business.
Lincoln Financial purchased Liberty Mutual’s benefits group in 2018. It takes a while for the companies to figure out what resources are redundant—read job cuts—and what resources and people need to be kept. Once the weeding out process of internal resources is done, it’s time to look at sharpening up the company’s balance sheets.
Disability claims are the lowest hanging fruit, and terminating claims, including claims that have been paying monthly benefits paid for years, is the fastest way to cut losses and make the company look more profitable to shareholders.
The legacy disability claims that came in from Liberty Mutual are in the sightline of the cost-cutters. Claims adjusters are reviewing the claims, looking for a reason to terminate the claims. Often, there is no reason to terminate the claim – – but they are being cut anyway.
There is no financial incentive for Lincoln Financial not to terminate a claim especially a legacy from Liberty Mutual. There are no punitive damages for the financial and emotional devastation that is caused when disability benefits are lost. If the person does not fight back to get their benefits reinstated, that’s more money in the insurance company accounts. If they fight back, the loss is only the cost of representation for the giant insurance company.
Here are a few things we know from our experience with Lincoln Financial:
Surveillance is used in a very aggressive manner. If you are active on social media, don’t expect the investigators hired by Liberty not to notice. Insurance companies use social media extensively to know what claimants are doing.
Videotaping your activities outside of the home. Even if you are going out only to doctor and treatment appointments, expect to be videotaped. Be prepared for any visits to be challenged.
Requests for information on your current treatment. If you have been on claim for many years but don’t go to the doctor very often, your claim may be questioned. If you are not going to the doctor’s office because of COVID and are having telemedicine care instead, be sure to document those visits. Don’t rely on your doctor’s office to track your appointments. And don’t let your appointments slide.
Questioning your occupational skills. We know that a trained anesthesiologist who cannot work because they can’t stay on their feet is not going to get a job as a cashier, but we have seen stranger suggestions from insurance company representatives.
If you’re wondering if disability insurance companies are feeling the impact of COVID, consider this: payroll-deductions for health insurance and short and long term disability insurance are based on people being employed. The Labor Department says 10 million Americans are unemployed as a result of the pandemic. A recent article from The Washington Post reports that 18 million Americans are collecting unemployment benefits, with the number hovering from 18 – 20 million.
Whichever number is accurate (and economists debate this routinely), that’s at least 10 million lost payroll deductions that are not being paid to the disability insurance company. Those are big losses, and the insurance company needs to recoup them somehow.
For Liberty Mutual or Lincoln Financial disability claimants, things may be getting far bumpier as the losses from the pandemic continue. If you have any questions about your claim, if you have been notified that your claim is being terminated or if you have been asked to provide more information, we suggest you call our office at 877-583-2524 without delay. The call is free, and there are strict time limits on your ability to appeal a denial or a termination.