4 Things You Need to Know Before Filing a Disability Claim With The Hartford
The Hartford is a massive insurance company. Founded more than 200 years ago, it is the second-largest provider of group life and disability insurance in the United States. The insurance company expanded significantly in 2017, when it acquired Aetna’s disability insurance business. In 2018, The Hartford made $19 billion in profits.
At Bryant Legal Group, we help disabled people navigate their short and long-term disability claims with The Hartford. Over the decades, we’ve learned a lot about the company’s tactics.
Keep reading to learn four essential things that every Hartford claimant needs to know.
1. Be Prepared for Surveillance
The Hartford has earned a reputation for its use of surveillance. The company frequently hires private investigators to monitor disabled claimants’ online and real-life activities. If your lifestyle seems inconsistent with your reported limitations and abilities, The Hartford may deny your claim or terminate your benefits.
If you feel like you’re being watched or tracked, you may be right. However, don’t panic if you’re the subject of surveillance. Instead, consult with a lawyer, know your rights, and protect yourself.
For example, investigators cannot enter your property without your permission or record you in your bedroom or bathroom. They also cannot harass or threaten you.
You also should do your best to live within your doctors’ suggested restrictions. For example, if your orthopedic surgeon says you should never lift more than 5 pounds, don’t pick up a 20-pound bag of dog food at the store, even on a good day. First, you may injure yourself. Second, an investigator might be recording your every move.
At Bryant Legal Group, we find that most surveillance footage is relatively benign. It may show you walking to the mailbox or pushing a grocery cart for a few minutes. It rarely shows the price you pay after your brief period of activity or your symptoms during a flare-up. However, you’ll still need evidence, such as medical records, that clarifies the surveillance footage and puts it into perspective.
2. Don’t Expect The Hartford to Investigate Your Disability Claim Properly
This piece of advice applies to every disability insurance company, including The Hartford. You should never rely solely on the company’s representatives to fully investigate and prepare your claim. While you may list all of your physicians and providers in your long-term disability application, the company might not request every single record — and they certainly won’t go out of their way to find evidence that supports your claim.
Instead, you need to compile your medical records, statements from your doctors, and other vital information. This is particularly important in ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) claims. In an ERISA or employer-sponsored LTD plan, you only have a limited time to submit evidence.
There are two levels of appeal in an ERISA claim: administrative and federal court. During the administrative (or insurance-level) appeal, you need to build up or “stack” your record with all your supporting evidence — such as your doctors’ notes and opinions.
Once the insurance company closes its case and makes its final decision, you can no longer submit additional evidence. That means that if you wait too long to hire a lawyer or properly develop your claim, it could be too late.
3. Be Skeptical of The Hartford’s Settlement Strategies
In 2005, a group of workers’ compensation and personal injury claimants filed a class-action lawsuit against The Hartford, alleging that the company intentionally failed to disclose that it would retain 15% of its structured settlement payments. Rather than take the case to trial, the insurance company settled it for $72.5 million in 2010.
While the class-action lawsuit’s allegations were never proven at trial, you should be cautious when accepting a settlement (especially a structured settlement) from The Hartford. Before you agree to a settlement or sign any paperwork, you should always consult with an experienced disability insurance lawyer.
RELATED ARTICLE: When Should I Speak With a Disability Insurance Lawyer?
4. Be Prepared to File an Appeal
The Hartford denies a lot of long-term and short-term disability claims, including cases where people are truly disabled. If you get a denial or termination of benefits letter in the mail, you’re not alone. However, you do need to take immediate action to protect your legal rights. Disability insurance claims have relatively short filing deadlines, and if you miss them, you could lose your right to benefits.
You’ll also want to consult with an experienced disability insurance lawyer at Bryant Legal Group. ERISA appeals are complicated, and you’ll have to follow a series of strict procedural requirements at every step. One missed deadline or clerical mistake can have a profound negative impact on your claim.
Bryant Legal Group: We’re Prepared to Stand up to The Hartford
Did The Hartford recently deny your disability claim? The skilled lawyers at Bryant Legal Group have handled countless claims against The Hartford and understand their tactics and strategies. To learn more about our approach and how we might be able to help you, please contact us today to receive a free and confidential consultation.
Cuomo, C., Wagschal, G. (2010, April 7). The insurer who spied on me: Disabled man sues claiming The Hartford unfairly cut off benefits. ABC News. Retrieved from https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/TheLaw/claims-disabled-people-hartford-stopped-insurance-benefits-surveillance/story?id=10301625
Sturdevant, M. (2010, September 24). The Hartford settles class-action lawsuit. Hartford Courant. Retrieved from https://www.courant.com/business/hc-xpm-2010-09-24-hc-the-hartford-settlement-0925-20100924-story.html
The Hartford fact sheet (2019, April). The Hartford. Retrieved from https://s0.hfdstatic.com/sites/the_hartford/files/facts-about-the-hartford.pdf
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.