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Long-Term Disability Claims Denials Likely to Increase in Response to Record Death Benefit Payouts

Monday, February 28th, 2022

A secondary impact of this now over two-year Pandemic of COVID-19, and due to an unprecedented increase in deaths, the insurance community is noting an outsized number of death benefit payments.

Life insurance company executives and actuaries, including Hartford Financial CEO Christopher Swift, have now shared what we in the Disability Insurance community have known over these past 18 months. Hartford is one of the largest disability insurance companies, so when Mr. Swift places himself in the news, we think it is important to take heed and see how it impacts our client constituents.

We expect this latest fiscal pinch to have an equally outsized impact on denials and delays for long term disability claims.

The numbers in a recent article from The Wall Street Journal, “Rise in Non-Covid-19 Deaths Hits Life Insurers,” show part of the story and support what we have seen in the “battle” field:

In earnings calls for the past two quarters, Globe Life Inc., GL -0.74% 
Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., HIG -1.28%↓ Primerica Inc. PRI -2.82% ↓and Reinsurance Group of America Inc. RGA -0.69% ↓were among insurers noting higher non-Covid-19 deaths, compared with pre-pandemic baselines.

The earnings calls for the past two quarters for these insurance companies are among those reporting higher non-COVID deaths, compared with pre-pandemic numbers.

The actuaries and executives believe many of the increased non-COVID fatalities are a result of delays in medical care because of lockdowns in 2020 and outright fear of going to healthcare facilities since the pandemic began. Add to that the difficulty in getting appointments, health care workers still in short supply, overwhelmed medical facilities, and a supply chain that has not yet fully recovered. It’s a bad time to be sick and a worse time to fight with the disability insurance company.  Given the pinch felt on the life insurance side, disability claims are one place where the financials can be improved.

If your disability insurance claim has been denied or terminated, call our office to discuss your disability claim situation. Call us at 877-583-2524 to learn more about your claim and how we can help.

Frankel & Newfield sees the response of these outsized life insurance claims from the long-term disability insurance companies owned by these major companies. These denials come in waves, as the insurance companies seek to find ways to offset the losses, especially when preparing for quarterly reports to shareholders.  Touchpoints often exist within claims where the insurers can renew efforts to terminate claims.

As noted in the article, The American Council of Life Insurers, a trade group, said this is the biggest annual increase in death benefits since the 1918 influenza epidemic and is in the billions of dollars. There was some moderation in the cost because of many early victims of Covid were elderly people who typically had small or no life insurance policies. However, the Delta variant swept through people in the prime of their working lives, usually with employer sponsored life insurance.

In “normal” times, death benefit claims don’t vary much from year to year, but there’s no such thing as normal right now.

Deferred medical care and the long-term impacts of COVID on health will continue to roil the insurance sector. We see the end result, in the number of people who call and email our disability law firm about their short-term and long-term disability claims.

Filing a disability claim with a large insurance company has never been easy. The past ten years have also seen a lot of change in the sector, as larger companies buy up disability divisions and consolidate the disability business. The companies rely on a series of processes to control costs, from using software designed to identify any possible reasons for denials to a claims process that often appears to be deliberately incapable of managing the claim.

A small industry of third-party administrative companies has grown over the years to aid and abet the denial of legitimate disability claims. And there’s a small army of doctors and nurses who never see patients, only paper files, paid by the disability insurance company, who seem to deny more claims than they approve.

Our disability law firm represents claimants who are legitimately disabled and have had their claim denied for no good reason.

We invite you to discuss your disability insurance claim with us, especially if it has been denied or terminated. The call is free and there is no obligation. Call us at 877-583-2524 to learn more about your claim and how we can help.


Reference: The Wall Street Journal (February 23, 2022) “Rise in Non-Covid-19 Deaths Hits Life Insurers,”

Jason A. Newfield

Written By:

Jason A. Newfield - Disability Insurance Attorney

Jason Newfield is a founding partner of the disability insurance law firm Frankel & Newfield. He has spent the majority of his legal career advocating for the rights of disabled workers. He has lectured other professionals, worked on a Federal Advisory committee, and published many articles in the field of disability insurance claims and litigation.

Learn more about Jason | See Jason’s Publications



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