In our recent post, “Should Disability Insurance Companies Be Deciding What Kind of Care You Receive?” we explained that insurance companies will often contact your treatment providers directly without your consent, ambushing them with medical studies and demanding answers to a plethora of questions about your medical treatment in an effort to undermine your disability claim. In many instances, insurance companies will refuse to produce the medical reports their in-house doctors wrote about you, but still expect full access to your treatment providers and their reports.
If this happens to you, you may (justifiably) feel like the insurance company is going behind your back and unfairly manipulating the claims process. Your treatment providers may become upset because the insurance company is harassing them to respond to detailed questions without adequate time to understand the questions and/or provide thorough answers. You may even notice your doctors acting differently towards you after speaking with the insurance company. For example, your doctor might begin to avoid you when you ask him or her to provide you with documentation to support your claim.
How can you protect your treatment providers from being ambushed by insurance companies and protect your claim from being manipulated?
The first step is to have your attorney immediately notify the insurance company that any communications with your treatment providers must be coordinated through your attorney’s office. If the insurance company complies with your request, as it should, your attorney can act as a buffer between the insurance company and your treatment providers. For example, if your doctors would prefer to receive the insurance company’s questions in written form, your attorney can communicate this to the insurance company.
Unfortunately, not every insurance company will comply with such a request. For example, Unum Group and its subsidiaries, the Provident Companies and Paul Revere Corporation, have recently begun sending communications directly to claimants’ doctors, despite claimants’ directives not to.
Because of situations like this, you should also let your treatment providers know that you have directed that any communications between the insurance company and your doctors be coordinated through your attorney’s office. You can explain that that the purposes of your request are to protect your treatment providers from being harassed by the insurance company. You can also explain that if the insurance company does contact them directly, they are not under any obligation to respond without talking to you first.
In this manner you, your treatment provider, and your attorney can work together to afford your treatment providers the opportunity to clearly understand the insurance company’s questions and provide detailed responses that are thorough and accurate. This will, in turn, ensure that your claim is resolved fairly.