Does Your Unum Claims Handler Have a Personal Financial Incentive to Deny or Terminate Your Disability Claim?
The transcript of Unum Group’s May 23, 2013 Annual Shareholder Meeting provides some disturbing insight into what may motivate claims personnel at Unum to deny or terminate a legitimate disability claim.
Unum’s Chief Executive Officer, President and Director, Thomas R. Watjen reported to the shareholders that they had “overwhelmingly approved” an employee cash incentive system based on performance:
The fourth item of business is the approval of our annual incentive plan, which provides employees the opportunity to earn cash incentive awards based primarily on the company’s performance each year. Our company performs well, employees get treated well from a financial standpoint. Our company doesn’t perform well, employees don’t get treated as well. . . . So our shareholders see, as we as directors and managers see, how to run the company successfully by creating an incentive system based on performance. So that has been overwhelmingly approved.
Later in the meeting, Unum’s Chief Financial Officer, Richard P. McKenney, spoke about the performance of Unum’s “closed block of business,” which includes its individual disability policies issued prior to the mid-1990s–the type of policies that Unum no longer sells.
We do have our Closed Block business. These are policies which are written some time ago. We serve those customers equally as well. But the returns in these businesses are lower.
Taken together, the two statements paint a picture of claims personnel handling the closed block of business under pressure to improve the returns, or else they “won’t get treated as well” or receive as sweet an incentive bonus.
We often hear from claimants who are incredulous that their claims have been denied or terminated despite a mountain of evidence of their disability. This may be one explanation, and having an attorney to advocate for you as a claimant can be essential when you have a financially-motivated adjuster reviewing your claim.
The full transcript of the Unum Annual Shareholder Meeting is available at Seeking Alpha.