"Be ashamed, be very ashamed if you work for this company," says Robert O'mea, former general agent for UnumProvident (now First Unum) and noted expert on disability insurance. "I am ashamed that I worked there from 1979 to 1981." O'mea also worked for Canada life as a general agent and did training for new and existing agents. Compared to First Unum, Canada Life was its exact opposite. According to O'mea, First Unum is "a corporate culture of deceit and greed is their common denominator."
"The way this insurance company operates is like saying there is no God," says O'mea. "They have made people's lives a shambles. They have no conscience—they have no intention of paying their claims."
O'mea explains that the federal government's response has indicated First Unum's bad faith. "Judge Learned Hand, in an opinion given for the US Court of Appeals, said the only purpose that an insurance company has, is to pay claims. Insurance companies are given a special and favorable tax status because of the social benefits they provide—and Unum has violated this trust at every opportunity.
"When I worked there, this wouldn't have happened; it wasn't an option," he says. What went so horribly wrong and when? O'mea says it was nothing more than sheer greed that started about eight or nine years ago. Management got together and saw nothing but dollar signs—for them.
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For example, a widow works all her life and gets hurt on the job. Unum denies her so she goes on welfare—for the rest of her life. The government pays and Unum walks away.
But O'mea predicts the hammer is about ready to drop. Federal regulations and attorneys who are willing to take up the challenge with a good class action lawsuit could recover hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits for policy holders who were denied disability.
"I shake my head to the point of tears: how can management destroy the legacy and reputation, the history of service to clients that Unum Provident once had," asks O'mea. "I am glad that you are doing this - letting me tell my story. It really needs to be told."