Feltington v. Hartford – Internal Guidelines

The internal working of insurance companies, especially when it comes time to adjudicate a claim or navigate an appeals process, can be a mystery—in fact some insurance companies can go to great lengths to actually hide their internal guidelines and procedures.  One such example of that is the case of Feltington v. Hartford Life Insurance Company.[1]

In this matter, Feltington is suing Hartford based on their denial of her long-term disability benefits under a private-employed sponsored disability policy (an ERISA policy).  The case is in its seventh year of litigation.  One major area of contention was the production of Hartford’s internal procedures related to receiving post-appeal information.

Hartford eventually released a heavily redacted portion of its claims manual, discussing its process for receiving additional information/issues submitted after an appeal decision.  The excerpts indicated that it was Hartford’s policy to uphold the appeal decision by issuing a letter explaining that the administrative remedies had been exhausted.

The Court added, “[i]n elevating the Hartford Life’s closing of the record to the level of the sacrosanct, the Company misses a fundamental feature of human nature: we all make mistakes.”

Even further, the excerpts of the policy also explained that all post-decision information received is to be sealed in a specially-marked envelope which “should not be re-disclosed.”  The purpose of this appears to be to exclude any additional information from the administrative record, and thus make it unavailable to insureds, their counsel, and the courts.

This court case shows just how far insurance companies, specifically Hartford, will go to stand by its denial determination.  If you are engaged in litigation with your insurer, feel free to reach out to one of our attorneys directly.

[1] Feltington v. Hartford Life Ins. Co., No. CV 14-6616 (GRB), 2022 WL 499079 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 17, 2022).

Every claim is unique and the discussion above is only a limited summary of the court’s ruling in this case. If you are concerned that your insurer is using any of the tactics above to evaluate your claim, an experienced disability insurance attorney can help you assess the situation and determine what options, if any, are available.


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