Are You Disabled but Unable to Collect Disability Insurance Benefits from The Hartford?
Can you imagine finding yourself disabled but unable to collect individual or group disability insurance benefits from your insurer? Even worse, the hoops which insurance companies can require you to jump through for claim approvals can feel never-ending. There has been a great deal of litigation around issues of disability insurance claim denials. While insurers have a right to protect their business interests, they should not do so at the expense of the truly disabled. You can fight back and win if your individual or long-term ERISA claim has been denied.
The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. is a huge enterprise, with revenue of more than $26 billion in recent years. Huge insurance carriers understand that they can often increase profits, by denying legitimate claims or giving policyholders the eternal runaround. If you believe Hartford Insurance has treated your individual or ERISA disability claim unfairly, we can help.
Unfortunately, disability insurance companies act in bad faith more often than one might imagine. Common red flags of possible illegitimate claim delays or denials are:
- Requests for independent medical examinations by doctors in the wrong specialty
- Massive requests for duplicative claim documentation
- Denials that are not accompanied by any real explanations or evidentiary proof
- Failing to make a claim decision within a reasonable amount of time
- Failing to relate relevant policy and benefit information to the claimant (or person filing the claim), etc.
At DarrasLaw, our team of bad faith disability insurance attorneys and ERISA lawyers includes Frank N. Darras, America’s Top Disability Lawyer. We have the knowledge and the seasoned litigation experience to handle your denial of disability insurance benefits or unreasonable delays, and fight for the benefits you deserve from The Hartford. Our top-rated disability insurance benefits lawyers handle:
- A review of the features, advantages and benefits of your coverage
- The application for individual, short-term or long-term disability benefits from The Hartford Group
- ERISA appeals and litigation related to the denial of Hartford group long-term disability benefits
- A lawsuit related to the improper, wrongful or bad faith denial of individual disability benefits by Hartford
Contact DarrasLaw today for immediate assistance with your Hartford insurance disability case. We help disabled individuals from all across the country who need help after The Hartford Insurance wrongfully withholds, denies or terminates coverage.
Applying for Short-Term or Long-Term Disability Benefits from The Hartford
Short-Term Disability Benefits
Short-term disability (STD) benefits generally provide covered employees with partial income replacement for a short period of time if the employee becomes disabled. The disabling sickness or accident has to fall under the policy’s covered provisions. The Hartford lists some common examples of covered sickness and accidents that may allow for short-term disability benefits through their policies. These include:
- Rehab after a crash
- Maternity cases
- Knee injuries
- Whiplash/ neck problems
- Tennis elbow
- Surgery recovery
- Bunion removal
- Carpal tunnel syndrome, Cubital tunnel problems
- Stress/ anxiety/ mental nervous or substance abuse cases
- Tendonitis, sprains and dislocations
- Herniated disks
- Broken bones
- Heart, HIV, cancer, Fibromyalgia and Lyme diseases
Many short-term disability insurers provide similar benefits, but with slight variations among each of them. The Hartford’s generic short-term benefits include: benefit start dates that fall on the first day of injury; benefits paid for as many as 52 weeks; 50 percent to 67 percent of income loss as a monthly benefit.
To receive short-term benefits through The Hartford, a policyholder must file a disability insurance claim and meet all proof of loss requirements. The Hartford’s standard disability insurance claims forms include four sections:
- Section I: Employer’s Statement to be completed by the employer’s authorized representative.
This section includes requests for information related to: claimant’s hire date and salary information, the physical and mental demands of the employee’s occupation, information about the employee and the claim, information about the occupation as it relates to the claimed disability.
- Section II: Employee’s Statement to be completed by the employee who is applying for Short Term Disability benefits.
This section includes requests for information related to: how the claimed injury or sickness began and other income that you are receiving or eligible to receive that may reduce the benefits The Hartford provides.
- Section III: Authorization to Obtain Information to be signed by the employee.
For The Hartford—or any disability insurance company—to receive access to your medical records, they are required to receive permission from the insured. This form authorizes your medical provider(s) to release and send The Hartford any and all information related to you. The Hartford includes specific requests for medical documentation, but it is a very broad release, so be aware.
- Section IV: Attending Physician’s Statement – to be completed by the physician or physicians who are treating the employee outlining the physical and mental restrictions preventing work.
This section includes information related to: patient’s (claimant’s) medical history, past hospitalizations, medical impairments the patient is suffering or has suffered, the progress of the patient as of the current date, prognosis and expected length of the disabling condition
To view a sample of The Hartford short-term disability income benefits application, click here.
Long-term Disability Benefits
Long-term disability (LTD) insurance benefits provide beneficiaries with a portion of their income in the event that they cannot work—for an extended period—due to a covered disability. Your disability insurance policy will generally cover disabilities including:
- Sprains, strains and fractures
- Heart attacks, Diabetes and strokes
- Congestive heart failure
- Coronary artery disease
- Neck and back pain and problems
- Scoliosis and problems with the spine
- Pneumonia, asthma, lung conditions
- Pregnancy complications
- Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Lyme, chronic fatigue, and tick diseases
Long-term disability benefits through The Hartford can include up to 67 percent monthly income protection.
To receive long-term benefits through The Hartford, a policyholder must timely file disability insurance claims forms. There are some overlaps with the STD claim’s application, but also some significant differences. The Hartford’s standard claims forms include four sections and one subsection:
- Section I: Employer’s Statement to be completed by the employer’s authorized representative. Be sure to provide any necessary attachments (see Section K).
The information in this section mimics the STD section listed above. See STD section above for more information.
- Section Ia: Information for Group Life Premium Waiver Benefits to be completed by the employer’s authorized representative if the employer also has a Group Life Insurance policy with The Hartford that includes a Premium Waiver benefit. Be sure to provide any necessary attachments (see Section K).
This section is found in a box on the first page of Section I. It asks the employer to indicate whether the claimant has Group Life Insurance coverage with The Hartford, and, if so, more information regarding the coverage: for example, basic amount, supplemental amount, and the date of the coverage.
- Section II: Employee’s Statement to be completed by the employees or representative who is applying for Long-Term Disability insurance benefits.
This section does require, however, more extensive documentation than what is requested for STD. This includes: more information about hospitalizations, treating physicians, requests for driver’s license information, and more detailed information regarding third party benefits that may offset the sum of benefits that the Hartford provides, among other things.
- Section III: Authorization to Obtain Information to be signed by the employee.
This form—like the form in the STD application—authorizes your medical provider(s) to release and send The Hartford any and all information related to you. The Hartford’s form includes specific requests for medical documentation, but it is also a very broad release. Because LTD benefits exist for a longer period, it is possible that The Hartford may request substantial amounts of health, financial and occupational information related to the claimant.
- Section IV: Attending Physician’s Statement to be completed by the physician or physicians who are treating the employee.
The section includes more in-depth information regarding the patient’s health file than was seen in the STD benefit application—for example, the patient’s (claimant’s) medical history, past hospitalizations, physical and mental impairments the patient is suffering or has suffered from, the progress of the patient as of the current date, etc. Furthermore, the provider must provide information regarding the claimant’s ability to stand, walk, push, pull, drive, use a keyboard, etc.
To view a sample of The Hartford long-term disability income benefits application, click here.
ERISA Litigation Related to the Denial of Group Hartford Long-Term Disability Insurance Benefits
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a wide-ranging federal statute that applies to U.S. employee benefit plans when private employers or labor unions provide those group plans. Like other parts of an employee’s benefit package, disability insurance plans are subject to ERISA. Pertinent parts of ERISA include reporting and disclosure rules and certain prohibited transactions.
When insurers like The Hartford fail to comply with ERISA, liability could result. Some examples include:
- Failing to provide accurate plan information to group ERISA disability insurance policyholders—what is and is not covered
- Not following standards of conduct for plan managers and other fiduciaries
- Failing to enforce provisions that help to shield disability insurance plan funds so that qualifying beneficiaries receive the benefits to which their plans entitle them
- Neglecting to provide policyholders with directions on how to file a disability insurance claim in the event that the policyholder becomes disabled
- Refusing to outline the appeals process, in the event that an insurance company denies a group policyholder’s claim
The Hartford is currently defending ERISA litigation all across the United States.
Case law states, ERISA requires plan administrators to exercise care, skill, prudence, and diligence. This means that a Federal court will not allow plan administrators to act in arbitrary and capricious manner to deny disability claims. Conduct typically constituting a plan administrator’s breach of fiduciary duty includes deceptive practices or misrepresentations. Knowingly making false statements to save money at the beneficiary’s expense—as well as the failure of a plan administrator to communicate key plan terms to a beneficiary is actionable. Click here for more information.
This means that the Hartford can face liability under Federal ERISA provisions for not telling you enough about your group disability plan. The Hartford has a duty to make you aware of all your policy coverage when you inquire.
Although ERISA was intended to protect the interest of employee policyholders, it has become a complex system-favoring employers. For policyholders of ERISA-regulated disability insurance plans, ERISA establishes strict rules for filing claims and for appealing claims, but few consumer’s rights or remedies.
ERISA requires meeting specific, unforgiving time deadlines and submissions for the disabled insured. If you have a group ERISA disability insurance plan, ERISA generally requires that you must timely and thoroughly appeal a denial, in writing, within 180 days of the denial. Failing to timely appeal—according to ERISA guidelines—could prohibit you from filing a Federal suit in court later. Talk to an experienced, disability-insurance lawyer or ERISA attorney to ensure that you stay in compliance with ERISA if it applies to your policy.
Truly experienced disability insurance lawyers and ERISA counsel understand ERISA. You can fight back when your disability insurance company denies you coverage and an experienced disability insurance lawyer or ERISA attorney can wage a successful battle on your behalf.
Appealing a Denial of Hartford Disability Insurance Benefits
- If The Hartford denies your claim, it must provide you with the reasons for the denial
- If you receive a group long-term disability denial letter, you must generally file an appeal within 180 days of the postmark date of the denial letter. The appeal must be thorough, comprehensive and in writing. For more information on writing your initial appeal, click here.
- If The Hartford denies your timely filed long-term disability appeal, you may need to do a second appeal before filing an ERISA lawsuit in Federal court.
The Hartford’s Patchy Claims History
The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (The Hartford) is a U.S. based investment and insurance company. A Fortune 500 company headquartered in Hartford, Connecticut, it is the twelfth-largest property and casualty company in the United States.
Insurance companies have an obligation to act in good faith. This means that, while some claim denials are certainly legal, insurers are not permitted to use marginal references and unethical tactics to find reasons to deny otherwise legitimate claims.
In 2005, a class of plaintiffs— numbering 21,000 persons—sued The Hartford. What joined these persons were their claims that The Hartford engaged in questionable business practices. Each of these 21,000 persons had claims alike enough to convince a judge that they were similarly situated—a prerequisite for a class action suit. All of these people alleged, with slight variations, that The Hartford acted in bad faith with respect to paying legitimate claims. Ultimately, The Hartford settled for $72.5 million—with each of the 21,000 persons in the class receiving about $3,300 before fees and expenses.
Don’t Play The Hartford’s Disability Denial Games. Call DarrasLaw Today.
The bad faith disability insurance attorneys and ERISA lawyers at DarrasLaw are widely considered the nation’s top disability law firm. The firm takes take on large disability insurance companies who wrongfully deny needed and deserved disability benefits to insureds and wins.
The Hartford Insurance Group has been known to employ a variety of unreasonable tactics in delaying, denying, devaluing and terminating valid disability claims, including:
- Repeated, duplicative, exhaustive requests for medical records while delaying the receipt of needed monthly disability benefits
- Requiring a lengthy in-home interview or field claim review by a Hartford investigator of a disabled claimant who simply needs access to deserved disability benefits
- Requesting an Independent Medical Exam (IME) or a paper review by a doctor chosen by the Hartford in the wrong medical specialty or with “suspect or inadequate” training
- Misrepresenting facts to your doctor, without notifying you, via a mailed questionnaire or conversation in an effort to secure an admission that you are capable of some form of work
These are just some of the institutional bad faith tactics The Hartford is allegedly known to employ to delay or deny legitimate disability benefits. Our disability insurance attorneys and ERISA lawyers are reviewing new disability denials every day, staying on top of all the illegitimate the ways insurers attempt to take your premium but deny your benefits.
If you believe that your claim for benefits was wrongly denied, unduly delayed or the Hartford Group acted in bad faith in devaluing or terminating your claim, contact DarrasLaw today.
If You Were Denied Individual or Group ERISA Disability Benefits by The Hartford, Contact DarrasLaw
Top-rated, AV pre-eminent trial lawyer Frank N. Darras and his national team handle a wide spectrum of individual, short-term and long-term disability insurance claim denials, from a few thousand dollars to claims worth millions. We have an unmatched track record of forcing insurers like The Hartford to fulfill their contractual obligations and act in good faith.
Our nationwide disability insurance attorneys and ERISA counsel evaluate cases against all major insurance companies. We are here to assist and advocate for your disability benefits when your insurer has let you down. Frank N. Darras and his firms have recovered nearly $1 billion in insurance benefits for injured and disabled people across the country. For a free policy or claim consultation, contact DarrasLaw online or call us at (800) 458-4577. If you are considering purchasing an individual, short or long-term disability insurance policy with The Hartford, contact us today for a free policy analysis.