Every disability claims organization strives to provide the best service in the industry. We want claims to be handled promptly and accurately. We want thorough claim reviews with timely decisions. We ask that phone messages be returned within 24 hours or, better yet, answered on the first ring. We ask our claims professionals to be empathetic with claimants, yet firm with decisions. Sounds easy enough. In reality, it is a complex process that balances friendly service with an eye on profitability.
Many group disability insurance customers dont realize what goes on behind the scenes to ensure that they receive the disability payments they need and keep their premiums stable. The expectation in the worksite market is for insurers to pay claims first and ask questions later. In the customers mind, it sounds something like this: “I pay premium. You pay the claims.”
It would certainly be ideal to be able to charge a premium that would support paying every claim submitted with a physicians check mark in the “totally disabled” box, while still providing profits to all parties. But that approach would take the disability industry back to the claims processing model of two decades ago. Today, the approach is claims management, which is the closest thing to ideal in the 21st century.
But what if we did revert to the claims processing model (pay now, ask questions later). Heres what it would look like:
An insurer increases premium rates to a level that can support a claims processing model. A percentage of healthy certificate holders would be lost as a result of the premium hike. The fewer participants, the more likely the premium increase will not provide the profits it was intended to; that means the insurer may still need another rate increase in the future. Its an endless cycle: the higher the rates, the lower the participation, and the lower the profits for the insurer.