Most consumers purchase disability insurance coverage with the hope that they’ll never have to use it….that the policy document will gather dust in a filing cabinet somewhere. The reason the disability insurance premiums are a justifiable cost is because the insurance provides a monthly income benefit if you can’t work because of illness or injury. The coverage promises to protect you, your family and your assets if you become unable to earn an income because of a medical or psychiatric condition. So it should be no surprise that insurance companies capitalize on the purpose behind disability insurance in their advertisements. Carriers show images of unforeseen illnesses or injuries and desperate families with bills piling up, while comfortingly portraying their company as dependable, strong, compassionate, and there when you need them. The irony is that many times disability insurance companies act directly contrary to the caring and reliable images contained in their advertisements when it is actually time to pay claims of their truly disabled consumers.
Insurance companies like The Standard and The Hartford warn consumers on their websites of the high risk that they will suffer a disability during their working career, encouraging them to purchase disability insurance coverage. The Standard writes: “Almost 3 in 10 of today’s 20 year olds will become disabled before age 67,” and “once someone has been disabled for 90 days, the average length of their disability is two years,” and “at age 35, one has a 50/50 chance of being unable to work more than three months due to a disability before turning 65.” And The Hartford asserts: “You hope a disability will never happen. But there’s a 30% chance it will. Three out of 10 workers will face a condition that lays them up before they retire.” These statistics are accurate and thus, it is apparent why disability insurance is extremely important to many individuals and families. However, collecting disability insurance benefits from these companies when tragedy strikes is another matter.
Of course, The Standard and The Hartford both promise that disability insurance will protect your income in the event an unfortunate disability occurs. The Hartford starts with a catchy motto that “Luck Can Run Out, Money Doesn’t Have To,” and continues by writing: “A serious disability may seem like a long shot. But it can happen to anyone. And it can keep you out of work for a length period of time. If that ever happens to you, help protect your income and savings with the long-term disability insurance plan your employer is offering. So you can stay on top of your rent or mortgage and other bills in the worst case scenario . . . .” Likewise, the Standard advises, “Long Term Disability insurance is designed to pay a monthly benefit to you in the event you cannot work because of a covered illness or injury. This LTD benefit replaces a portion of your income, helping you to meet your financial commitments in a time of need.”
This is commonplace among major disability insurance companies. Liberty Mutual encourages on its website: “Group Disability to Protect What Matters Most,” and goes on to state that if an employee suffers an injury or illness and is unable to work, “disability insurance can help cover daily living expenses and provide resources for recovery and return to work.” Prudential includes on its website: “If you became disabled, how would you pay your bills and support your family? Prudential insurance can help . . . . Benefits to You – It helps safeguard one of your most important assets-your ability to earn an income. LTD insurance helps replace a portion of your income if you become disabled . . . .” Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, commonly known as MetLife, urges consumers: “Protect one of your most valuable assets-your income-with disability insurance. If you are unable to work due to a sickness or injury, disability insurance can help you meet expenses and maintain your standard of living. It can help you pay bills like your mortgage, tuition and car payments, and help cover expenses for food, clothing and utilities. By replacing a portion of your income, disability insurance can help provide financial security until you get back on your feet and return to work.” And with Snoopy as a mascot, how could you not trust MetLife?
Of course, Liberty Mutual is the “responsible” insurance company, with its famous slogan: “Responsibility. What’s your policy?” Cigna advertises its pride for its “commitment to help the people we serve improve their health, well-being, and sense of security.” Each major disability insurance carrier has its shtick, carefully calculated to instill trust and confidence in consumers.
But why the “about face” when it comes time for major disability insurance companies to review and pay a claim under a disability insurance policy promising coverage in exchange for premium payments? Clearly, the disability insurance companies are knowledgeable of the probability that a paying consumer could become disabled during his or her working career. It’s indisputable, given the statistics advertised on their websites. The companies are well aware of the reasons why a consumer finds disability insurance to be a good investment, and brings these reasons to the forefront when advertising their products. It must be the money?
There is good reason why an insurance company’s inherent financial conflict of interest is a relevant consideration by courts reviewing disability insurance benefit denials. A for profit insurance company who must pay disability benefits from its own coffers is certainly conflicted when faced with making a determination of whether or not to approve a claim filed under one of its insurance policies. In fact, many times the evidence shows that these companies are more than conflicted, and appear to be motivated to deny an insurance claim based on financial concerns and a goal to profit as a business by “scrutinizing” claims. The money spent by disability insurance companies each year to “scrutinize” claims and engage in deceptive tactics to avoid paying claims of truly disabled individuals is staggering.
This does not mean that you do not need disability insurance. However, understanding your rights and the tactics often utilized by insurance companies can mean the difference between a paid claim and a denied claim. Our law firm is well versed in successfully handling disability insurance benefit claims at every stage of the process. We have a reputation for aggressive representation of our clients, and exposing insurance company tactics and evidence damaging to the insurance company when it is justified in a case. If you are facing a disability insurance company who made promises that you’re not sure it will keep or that has already failed to keep its promises, contact one of our experienced attorneys today for a free consultation.