Lincoln Long-Term Disability Denials
If you have a long-term disability policy through Lincoln Financial, you’ve probably had some difficulty trying to collect on that policy. One of two things is likely to have happened. They either denied your claim outright or they’re continually asking you for more information in an attempt to delay paying you benefits.
Here’s one thing that most people don’t know. Insurance companies don’t make the majority of their money on premiums. They make the majority of their money on investing premiums. Those investments accrue value the longer they are sitting on the market. Stalling thus becomes a means of maximizing profits. So does denying otherwise valid claims.
If you’re trying to cash in on the long-term disability policy that you’ve spent years paying into, having an attorney litigate your claim ensures that you get your money faster than you would otherwise. Those who file claims alone are low-hanging fruit to insurance companies. They bank on you not being willing to fight or being willing to settle your claim for less than it’s worth.
Robinson & Warncke has successfully helped thousands of clients get the financial security they deserve. Call us today to learn more about how we can help with a Lincoln long-term disability denial.
Unfair Claims Settlement Practices
On March 7 of 2017, the New York State Department of Financial Services announced a settlement with Lincoln Financial in which the insurance megalith was forced to pay $50.7 million to beneficiaries and a $1.5 million fine based on unfair claims settlement practices. After Lincoln Financial merged with Jefferson-Pilot, the company “lost” thousands of policies it had inherited from the merger. Despite early warning signs, Lincoln Financial did nothing to correct the situation.
What Are Bad-Faith Denials?
Under the law, every insurance company has a fiduciary duty to protect the best interests of their policyholders. Often, however, policyholders find themselves at odds with their insurance company and requiring the aid of an attorney to force the insurance company to pay up at added cost to themselves and a delay in getting their money. While the insurance company has a right to investigate the claim, it must provide a solid legal reason for denying it. When it doesn’t, it can be held liable for operating in bad faith.
Bad faith denials include instances of an insurance company:
- Failing to fully investigate a claim
- Denying the claim without legal cause
- Stalling the process of making a decision
- Failing to inform the claimant what they need to satisfy the claim
- Conducting independent medical examinations (IME) in bad faith
- Conducting functional capacity evaluations (FCE) in bad faith
Tactics Used to Delay or Deny Claims
One of the most likely problems you may face is endless requests for more information. For example, Lincoln will tell you that you cannot make a claim because you haven’t provided all of the necessary documents. So you ask your doctor to send the information to your insurance company. A few weeks pass, and Lincoln has yet to make a decision, so you call Lincoln asking why. Lincoln tells you that they requested such and such information and haven’t received it.
Upset, you go back to your doctor who insists he or she sent the required information. Confused, you ask the doctor to resend it. Lincoln continues to claim that the information was never sent. You tell them that you asked the doctor personally to send it again and then wait for a response.
Eventually, Lincoln admits that the documents have reached their office. But they send out a notice asking for more information in addition to what they asked for previously. You may be thinking, “Well why didn’t you tell me I needed that in the first place?”
Functional Capacity Evaluations
At some point, Lincoln may ask you to undergo a functional capacity evaluation (FCE). These exams compare your current disabilities to your work-related duties. Ostensibly, they are for the purpose of determining whether or not you can do the work you claim you can’t do. Meanwhile, your employer may have required you to file a claim against their group ERISA policy, and your doctor may be telling you that you risk causing yourself more injury by returning to work.
What are the results of the FCE? Typically, the FCE doctor will find any plausible reason to claim that you can, in fact, perform the duties of your job even though your boss told you to file a claim and your doctor’s telling you it’s dangerous to continue working.
Appealing a Lincoln Long-Term Disability Denial
Lincoln Financial has a history of denying claims and then banking on the fact that the policyholder will not fight the denial. If this works 10% of the time they are saving themselves millions of dollars each year. Even in cases where it does work, they tell the policyholder that they can either take a settlement for a fraction of the value of the policy or they’ll fight them for years if need be. It’s a process of intimidation.
If Lincoln denies your claim, make sure you keep the denial letter, which should delineate the reasons for the denial and lists steps to take if you wish to file an appeal. Also keep copies of any and all correspondence between you and Lincoln.
Once you receive a Lincoln long-term disability denial, you will need to act quickly. You only have a short window to file your appeal. This is especially true if you were part of a group policy paid for by your employer. The policies are governed by ERISA regulations and there is a specific process for appealing ERISA denials. Individual policies work differently. Policyholders may be able to file lawsuits against their insurance company to mediate the dispute.
To learn more about appeals, read our article Should I Handle My Own Appeal?
We Can Help You Hold Lincoln Accountable for Bad Practices
Our attorneys can also assist you in dealing with disputes that arise from Lincoln engaging in the following:
- Failing to respond to policyholders’ requests for more information
- Failing to comply with ERISA regulations
- Ignoring new medical evidence
- Using questionable video surveillance tactics
- Issuing lowball settlement offers
- Providing misinformation about policy terms
Contact a Long-Term Disability Denial Attorney in Atlanta, GA
At Robinson & Warncke. we have successfully litigated claims against Lincoln Financial and its subsidiary companies. Contact us today for help understanding your policy and to discuss your options.