Give Workers Info Often On Their LTD Coverage
Remember when we were taught to tell the audience what you were going to talk about, then tell them, and then tell them what you just said?
Thats good advice for producers and product providers who want to avoid getting sued for selling group long term disability coverage.
The audience in this case is the covered worker. Workers need several opportunities to learn about how their LTD coverage works! Unfortunately, this doesnt always happen. Well discuss how to improve things here, by looking at three critical junctures.
1) When the employee joins the company. The employees first information about LTD typically comes during initial training. But, all too often, the worker may not listen, because he or she is being bombarded with all sorts of new and diverse information. The particulars of LTD, with its many definitions and waiting periods and formulas, are just too hard to absorb.
During the training, many workers do receive a Summary Plan Description (as detailed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act) on their LTD coverage. (Indeed, the SPD is often presented in a benefits booklet that also describes other employer benefits.) Even so, LTD distinctions and nuances make it difficult for new workers to understand what they are reading.
Solution: Even though its hard to deliver LTD education at the time of initial employment, make an effort at least to describe the LTD benefit at this critical point in the persons work history. Plant the seed, if you will, so that if disability should later occur, reviewing what LTD is and how it works will not be totally foreign.
2) When an employee becomes disabled. This is probably the next chance you will have to educate the worker about his LTD plan. Fortunately, you are now likely to have the workers full attention. However, you may still face challenges, due to employee fear of “losing everything” and his or her resulting inability to focus on explanations of benefits. Since that explanation is key to your ability to avoid problems–like getting sued–you need to make education at this juncture a top priority.
Solution: Provide a full explanation of benefits the very first time inquiry is made, assuming the worker is seriously contemplating a disability claim. An excellent way to do this is to provide a written explanation, such as a copy of the SPD or a page from the employee booklet. (Tip: Dont assume the employee still has the original booklet. Many times, people move and/or forget where they put their benefits books.)
A second thing you can do at this juncture is to put the employee in touch with an “expert” at the employer or insurer who can help answer questions. Dont try to do this yourself, unless you specialize in LTD and know the terms of the employers contact intimately. After all, even contracts from the same insurer may differ widely between employers–in benefit amounts, waiting periods, etc.