January 10, 2012

CBS News Comments on Policyholder's Fight with Bankers Life for Long Term Care (LTC) Benefits

by Kantor & Kantor LLP

A recent CBS News segment relates the story of Timber Harwood, a 93-year-old long-term care insurance policyholder fighting Bankers Life for benefits after he was seriously injured in a fall and needed the care of an in-home health aide. See “Some long-term healthcare policies not paying up,” http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-500202_162-57352805/some-long-term-healthcare-policies-not-paying-up/.

For more than a year, Bankers Life repeatedly “lost” or “misplaced” hundreds of pages of Harwood’s documents supporting his need for benefits while he used his life savings to pay for care. Things improved when Harwood’s niece – Kansas’s top insurance regulator – stepped in to help. Bankers Life eventually paid his claims, but then concluded he is “too healthy” to need in-home care, so the benefits stopped. Harwood and family are so worn down by the process they have decided not to pursue benefits.

The report concludes that LTC insurance isn’t paying as advertised and that customers should expect hefty premium increases.

We have also witnessed Bankers Life (and other LTC carriers’) claims handling practices, and have sued them to force them to pay. In our opinion, the worst thing a family can do is to give up the fight and let the carriers get away with not paying the benefits they owe.

Many people are successfully fighting their LTC carriers for benefits. Some of them have had to hire contingency fee lawyers like us to do it, but they made the decision that it’s more sensible to attempt hold their insurer accountable then spend their life savings on care they paid an insurance company to provide for.

Every LTC carrier is going to make you prove you need benefits, and some won’t make the task easy. Others will make the process discouraging and next to impossible. When that happens, find someone who understands how to deal with LTC insurers to help you. Most people aren’t as lucky as Mr. Harwood was to have an insurance regulator in the family to come to the rescue. Still, family members can help by calling and writing letters to the insurance company and demanding that they act expediently. Complain to the insurance commissioner of your state if the company does not respond to your inquires, or is acting irresponsibly. Usually, squeaky wheels get the grease. If all else fails, find an attorney with experience in this area.

We sincerely hope Mr. Harwood is indeed too healthy to need LTC benefits, but if he isn’t he shouldn’t give up the fight. And no one should. If Bankers Life or any other insurance carrier has denied your benefits, fight for your rights and make them pay what they owe!