What Is Unum Group?
Unum Group, formerly known as UnumProvident and First Unum, is a Fortune 500 insurance company based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Unum provides various types of insurance, including Unum life insurance, long term care insurance (LTCI), and Unum long-term disability insurance. Over the past twenty years, Unum has been defending against a large volume of lawsuits for alleged unlawful denial of claims.
Lawsuits against Unum Group or UnumProvident typically allege fraud and breach of contract. Some examples of Unum Group’s questionable tactics include: altering policies after claims have been filed without notifying policy holders; refusing to acknowledge disabilities, particularly for mental disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia (disorders where symptoms are self-reported); and arguing that the claim is a pre-existing condition. Unum’s insures around 25 million people worldwide.
Unum Disability Insurance Claims Denied/Terminated for Patients with Lyme Disease and Cognitive Disability
The recent case filed by Cynthia Vaillancourt, the Maryland school board chairwoman, resulted in a mistrial in January of 2018 after a jury deadlocked over whether she was totally disabled. A new trial is scheduled to proceed in August of 2018, and the parties are currently fighting it out in mediation.
Vaillancourt claims that she suffers from advanced Lyme Disease, and also a cognitive disability that causes her to confuse numbers, make mistakes, and muddies her thinking. She claims she acquired the cognitive disability in 1989 while pregnant with her daughter. She first began receiving disability payments in October 1989, and since then suffers from fatigue, headache, pain, and confusion. In court, she gave examples of her mental confusion, namely overpaying her credit card bill and making a mistake when ordering flooring for her house.
The case is reminiscent of other Unum disability lawsuits. For example in 2017, in Wakil v. Unum Life Insurance Company of America et al., a Board-certified psychiatrist’s Lyme disease claim was denied, though she continues to suffer with symptoms of the disease that prevent her from working in her chosen profession. It also is consistent with the allegations in a 2013 lawsuit, where a woman, Tanya Mondolo, who suffers from fibromyalgia was denied benefits. Documents filed in Mondolo v. Unum Life Ins. Co. of Amer. suggest that Unum has regarded fibromyalgia as an imaginary disease, perhaps because many of the symptoms are self-reported.
Unum Faces Lawsuit Filed by Disabled Public Employees
In another Unum disability denial case, a former Georgia sheriff’s deputy, Christopher Furman, and 911 dispatcher, Scotty Byers, are currently appealing a disability denial. Unum administered the county’s public employee disability insurance program. Furman and Byers were declared disabled by Cherokee County, the Social Security Administration, and Unum. Furman was also declared disabled by the Veteran’s Administration. Yet Unum discontinued their benefits, asking Byers, the 911 dispatcher, to return $52,000 of benefits that he had already been paid.
Byers lost one of his legs in a car accident when he was still a teenager, and subsequently worked as a 911 dispatcher for 15 years. In 2005, he began missing work due to liver disease, and was granted total disability. But after undergoing a liver transplant, Unum terminated his benefits. He claims that the medications relating to his transplant render him unable to return to work.
On April 26, 2018, Unum Group filed a motion to have the case partially dismissed before trial.
Unum Stock Prices Plummet After Year of Record Breaking Profits
Unum Group provides, among other types of insurance, disability income protection. This type of insurance is intended to provide financial benefits to employees who are unable to return to work due to partial or total disability, illness, or injury. The injury need not be work related to be compensable under the policy.
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in 2017. However, the company’s market value plummeted nearly $2 billion at the end of April, as investors concerns over losses in the company’s long term care policies written in the past, among other issues, came to bear.