A change to Unum's practices is legally mandated, as outlined in the company's settlement with up to 49 states. That settlement saw Unum agree to pay a $15 million fine and reconsider around 200,000 denied claims.
Is a $15 million fine and reconsideration of denied claims enough to convince a billion-dollar corporation to change its evil ways?
Unum (formerly UnumProvident) likely saved much, much more than $15 million when it illegally denied disability claims. Even if it did not save that much, $15 million is a drop in the bucket for a company that makes as much money as Unum does. Certainly a fine of this amount every few years is small enough that the company can justify it, given the money it saves by illegally denying claims.
A lawsuit that was recently given class action status accused Unum of creating secret documents that set out target dates for cutting off disability payments. Non-medical employees allegedly set these target dates with little regard to the claimant's disability or health situation. The lawsuit does not seek monetary relief. Rather, it requests "declaratory relief determining the illegality of the conduct alleged and injunctive relief whereby UnumProvident and its subsidiaries are ordered to immediately cease, in all states of the United States of America, engaging in the offending practices." Clearly some groups do not believe Unum has changed its ways.
Even Unum's own former medical director has gone public with claims that the company encouraged medical personnel to deny disability claims. In fact, he says it was his primary purpose to provide language supporting the denial claims and he was not allowed to ask for more information or suggest further medical tests. He further claims that although appeals were supposed to be independently reviewed, they were actually considered with a reliance on the original evaluation of the case, which was always skewed in Unum's favor. Essentially, the person requesting an appeal had his case reviewed by someone who was likely to decide against him.
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The sad truth is that many people who have their claims denied are too ill or injured to fight back against Unum Group, so they give up. Some may try to fight, but get caught up in a system that continually repeats itself and is so frustrating that eventually they give up, no matter how justified they are in appealing Unum's decision. Unfortunately, companies like Unum will not change unless enough people get angry and fight against it—only then will it be no longer worthwhile for Unum to engage in illegal practices.