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First Unum: A Keystone Kops Approach to Claims Processing?

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Chattanooga, TNWhether it is genuine pride over the addition of a new business platform or an attempt to push the bad press away from the public eye, First Unum is doing a lot of banner-waving over its new, 'Simply Unum' platform. Yes, but will it serve to improve the efficiency and compassion of the former Unum Provident? Time will tell—but clients appear to still be having trouble with their Unum life insurance and LTD products.

Health InsurancePerhaps this is one way of deflecting attention from the expected payout of $676 million the company is forced to distribute to 42 percent of their clientele who were denied claims. Or maybe they just need to make the money back…

Nonetheless, the company with a reported assets pool of $51.9 billion as at 2005 proudly released its Simply Unum platform as a means of pursuing efficiencies, increased simplicity and to afford customers more choice. The new platform was launched in three phases, the first being the allowance of four of its offices to provide quotes and sell products stemming from the new platform.

That was in August. Phase 2 will come in November, when various administrative components are added, followed by a full release through the Unum universe in the New Year. The platform is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses.

It all sounds pretty cool. However, will it manage to stem the systemic delays in paying out legitimate claims? Client after client has cried fowl over having claims denied or stonewalled unnecessarily.

Rick, from Kingsburg, CA, has a compelling story. His wife, a registered nurse, was put on long-term disability (LTD) and put in an LTD claim with Unum. Since that time it's been four months worth of runarounds, with still no payout forthcoming. Medical records that Unum claimed would be picked up by their own courier service were allegedly never picked up, which delayed the process by two weeks—and Rick and his wife had to send the records to Unum at their own expense. That was followed by a 30-day wait to process the claim and arrive at a decision. At the 11th hour Unum is said to have requested more information from their doctor, giving them a mere 12 hours to obtain the requested documentation. What followed was yet another keystone kops scenario that served to lengthen the wait even further. The stress on Rick, a man with a heart condition, was devastating. He talks of having to be rushed to hospital with another heart attack, trying to deal with a sick wife and a seemingly uncaring insurer.

"I'm just wondering if anyone knows if this company ever pays, or do they just wait for people to die or force them to return to work without a work release?

"We are losing everything we have worked for."

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