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On Getting Disability Claims Paid

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To The Editor:

I suppose we should thank you for the Nov. 18 article by Arthur Fries entitled “How agents can help their clients get disability claims paid.” Taken together with the expos? by 60 Minutes (Nov. 17) on the shoddy claims practices of UnumProvident, I find the combination deeply disturbing.

Fries details all the ways an agent may help his client through the disability claims process and implies that some guidance in any of several claims nuances might make the difference in payment or denial. After reading all this, I feel that this is an unrealistic standard to hold up to the average agent. Moreover, all this should not be necessary.

The real story here is the disgraceful behavior of a few prominent companies. I have watched the cycles of the disability business since the late 60s. From my point of view, companies brought a lot of financial distress upon themselves by liberal contract features and underwriting. After the “chickens came home to roost” in the 90s, we now have companies behaving irresponsibly (dare I say criminally) in order to help the bottom line. “Just play hard-ball, and cheat them out of their benefits” seems to be the philosophy today.

If half of the allegations are true (and my experience tells me they are), some insurance executives should get jail time. The tough claims practices of today make a mockery out of the whole concept of disability insurance.

Milton Jones, CLU, ChFC, LUTCF
Fayetteville, Ark.

Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, December 30, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.