Disability Management Services (DMS) is not an insurance company, but we include them in our list of long term disability insurance companies because they are a significant player in the disability insurance matrix that we deal with on a regular basis. DMS is a third-party administrator and consulting firm, meaning that they are an outside contracting company that manages claims for individual and group disability insurance policies.
DMS works with big, bigger and biggest disability insurance companies and reinsurers (link to Protective) at several different points of the disability insurance process. They help disability insurance companies to create products with an analysis of profit/loss and then manage claims to minimize exposure.
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They manage a number of insurers’ disability insurance claims, including Mass Casualty, Mutual of New York (MONY), AXA Equitable and others. This is an impressive roster of insurers, and we see a lot of volume of claims managed by DMS.
Leadership in the company includes a CEO who had worked for Travelers Insurance Company as a Chief Claims Officer, Director of Disability for Mass Mutual and General Counsel who worked for litigation departments at two large law firms. Overall, the leadership team has a lot of experience working for large insurance companies, which also means they have a lot of professional connections in the disability insurance world. These years of experience “managing” claims surely is not designed to be in the favor of insureds seeking to file claims.
For many insurance companies, the ability to outsource the management of disability insurance policies allows them to focus on the two things that they do very well – sell policies and manage assets for the benefit of shareholders. DMS is retained by large insurance companies to control costs and to “implement operational solutions that work the first time.” That has a very cold and clinical sound to it, and that’s exactly how it works.
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The corporate website sounds positively altruistic. DMS reports that they work closely with claims adjusters, medical providers, a team of selected medical consultants, forensic accountants, vocational experts and attorneys to conduct a complete and thorough analysis of disability insurance claims. It all sounds great – except that we have handled so many long term insurance disability cases where reports and evaluations from DMS are so skewed in favor of the disability insurance company that we have become cynical about their claim of being “independent third party administrators.”
True independence would make them more like journalists, reporting the information with a keen eye to providing completely unbiased facts. This has not been our experience with DMS or other third party administrators representing disability insurance companies.
Our experience with DMS is also different than our experience with insurance defense attorneys who are our adversaries. We work with these attorneys often, and while some are better practitioners than others, we have a healthy and professional respect for their commitment to represent their clients. Usually an overly aggressive strategy from an insurance company attorney or a third party administrator attorney indicates that their clients have given them the instructions to play hardball. It’s one thing when it’s lawyer to lawyer, but we are not pleased to see it translating to how the company treats claimants.Ready To Talk?
When a DMS representative attempts to have a conversation with one of our clients on the phone, with no attorney representation, we are concerned about their intentions. When the DMS representative tells our client that because they did not answer the questions demanded at the time of the unexpected telephone call, a field audit will be conducted, we find their tactics troubling – sometimes bordering on bullying of the insured.
An interesting DMS fact – the Better Business Bureau has two complaints on Disability Management Services with detailed responses from the company to the claimant. Note these are not disability claims, but the stark contrast of the complaints from the insureds and the detailed response that read like legal documents are unsettling to see on a public website.
Frankel & Newfield represents many claimants in matters against Disability Management Services and disability insurance companies. We know them as a company that is very aggressive in seeking to stop claimants from receiving disability benefits. Tactics that include outright rudeness to calls, refusals to put calls through to a supervisor, harassing employees and threatening claimants. This is unacceptable, on so many levels. We can only imagine the strategy is to push back so that a certain percentage of claimants will give up, rather than subject themselves to this kind of behavior.
There are many other disability risk management companies, and while they all seek to minimize exposure and costs for disability insurance companies, not all of them take this extremely aggressive approach.Ready To Talk?
If you are contacted by a representative of DMS or any other third party administrative company representing the disability insurance company, do not speak with them without the protection and guidance of an experienced disability attorney. This is not a personal vendetta against you; it is a deliberate strategy designed to make you want to stop trying to get your benefits. It works in enough cases that third party administrator companies like Disability Management Services relies on it as a first, second and third stage defense.
We have also negotiated settlements with DMS, and we have found that on more than one occasion there is an underlying tone of a readiness to pull the offered settlement as soon as any kind of resistance to the settlement is offered.
Having an experienced disability insurance claims attorney who is familiar with the tactics and strategies used by DMS can make the difference between receiving the disability benefits you deserve and being strung along for months or even years before having your claim resolved. If your claim has been transferred to DMS, we invite you to contact our office at 877-583-2524 to discuss your claim and how we can help. There’s no cost for the call or the evaluation of your case.Ready To Talk?
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.
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