Mary and her husband Pete explain from a dingy motel room (where they are now living), the course of events that led to their tragic state of affairs today, and how their insurer, Unum, is to blame.
"In January 2001 my husband suffered an injury at work-- cervical and shoulder strain and sprain—but he continued to work until February the following year," says Mary. "Pete was in so much constant pain that he had no choice but to give his notice. He quit work at lunchtime, February 9, 2001. But Unum says he became disabled after a full day's work, on February 10th. In other words, the insurer says he was disabled after he quit work—they said that Pete wasn't an employee of the company when he claimed disability."
That's one example of bad faith in Unum's bag of deceptive tricks.
"We had no money coming in (I am unable to work and I haven't done so for 40 years) so we had no choice but to dip into our savings," says Mary. "Pete's entire 401K was wiped out. He was 57 and I was a year younger. We lived on his savings for about 18 months, until there was nothing left. We couldn't borrow any money and our credit rating was ruined due to unpaid bills.
Pete appealed to Unum again but he was denied a second time in July, 2002. This time they had altered the policy and said you couldn't make a claim after 12 months of the original injury date. Pete made the claim 13 months after his injury but the original policy said "file as soon as reasonably possible." At first they said this would be waived but then they renaged.
I can prove that this time frame changed because I have the original policy. Unum just looked for one excuse after another not to pay.
In August of 2002 Pete finally received workers' compensation but the checks barely covered our bills and we definitely couldn't save anything. Here is how we lost our house:
My mother-in-law bought the house for us in 1973 and it was still in her name. She died in 1999 (she lived in another home not far from us in Orchard Park) and we were in the process of settling her estate.
We needed about $30,000 in December 2003 to keep the house—we had to pay off the other beneficiary in the will. My brother-in-law claimed that he had spent $30,000 during probate and the court ruled that we had to pay him or they would take our house and sell it.
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All we can do now is pray - there isn't much to say about the future. But I am optimistic that the regulators and the Department of Labor are going after Unum. I think it is great that people are talking about this insurer and its bad faith practices. It is great that you are listening and letting us get our story out. I want to let others know how we were treated by Unum."
We will do our best to stay in touch with Mary and Pete and hope their lawsuit against Unum is successful.