Okay, that headline is a simplification, and maybe even an overstatement, but that’s the attitude of insurance companies, and even courts, when looking at evidence related to life, health and disability claims.
At Kantor & Kantor, one of the most common complaints we hear from prospective clients goes something like this: “When I called the insurance company, they told me to do xxxxxx. So I did xxxxxx. But then they sent me a letter denying my claim/cancelling my coverage because I didn’t do yyyyyy, as the policy required.”
Unfortunately, no matter how much we want to believe the prospective client, our answer is almost always the same: you have to understand, and act as though someone will one day soon say to you, “if you can’t prove it, it never happened.”
When communicating with an insurance company, it is imperative that you do so in a traceable form whenever possible. Faxes, emails, and certified mail with return receipt requested are the ONLY ways you should be communicating with them. If you do have to speak with them on the phone, you should ALWAYS follow up your phone call with a letter to the insurer (in a traceable form, obviously) recapping your understanding of the conversation. That way if you find yourself in a dispute, you have some proof that what they told you on the phone is inconsistent with what they’re telling you now.
In a very recent example, a woman contacted Kantor & Kantor claiming her insurer told her over the phone that all she needed to do was to submit proof that Social Security had found her disabled, and she could stop paying premiums on her life insurance (otherwise known as Life Insurance Waiver of Premium or “LWOP”). She sent in the proof, and heard nothing from the insurer until they sent her a notice saying they were going to cancel her policy in 30 days if she didn’t pay her back premiums. We instructed her to pay the premiums owed, and then advised her on the proper way to apply for the LWOP, which required forms to be filled out by her and her doctor’s and the submission of medical records – not just sending in her Social Security disability award letter. We also counseled her to only talk to them in traceable forms, and if you do talk on the phone, always send a traceable follow up letter regarding your understanding of the phone call. Luckily, she was able to keep her policy in force, and is now in the process of applying for LWOP the right way. Kantor & Kantor did not charge her a single cent for this advice.
It seems simple and obvious, but we are continually shocked by the number of people who do not take these very easy steps to protect themselves against their insurer. We all know insurance companies will do whatever they can to get out of paying claims or honoring policies, and one of their favorite ways to achieve this is to tell you one thing on the phone and another thing in writing. So beat them at their own game, and make sure you don’t become a victim of this tactic by always communicating in traceable forms.
Initial consultaions are always free, so contact us if you have questions! (877) 783-8686.