After acquiring Aetna’s U.S. group life and disability business The Hartford became the second largest group life and disability insurer. Hartford is notorious for their unreasonable tactics in evaluating Long Term Disability claims. It seems that once you are on Hartford’s radar it’s almost impossible to avoid a denial of benefits. A lawyer experienced with The Hartford and their predictable tactics could help you avoid a denial of benefits or even reinstate a denied disability claim on appeal. However, you may have a claim with Hartford that is on “cruise control” with the carrier and one which may be eligible for a lump sum settlement. If you have been on claim for years and interested in eliminating the risk that your disability benefits could be cut off in the future then a Hartford disability settlement could be a good option for you. You may also find it advantageous to receive a lump sum settlement payment in lieu of monthly benefit payments for any combination of reasons including tax purposes, investments, etc.
There are many questions you should ask before deciding whether to approach Hartford with a request for a buyout or before considering accepting an open offer from Hartford. Also, just because you have been on claim for years does not mean that Hartford will even consider offering you a buyout. Before approaching Hartford to request a buyout you should ask yourself the following questions:
These are not the only questions that should be asked and a full evaluation of your personal financial situation should be carefully considered with the right team including an experienced Hartford buyout attorney, accountant, financial advisor and in some cases a settlement annuity specialist. The right team can guide you in making the right decision and also handle the negotiating process to ensure you get the best possible buyout if you decide that a buyout is the right decision for you.
It’s just as important to consider the risks of staying on claim with the Hartford when considering a buyout offer. Just because you received an offer doesn’t mean that your benefits are guaranteed if you decline the offer to settle. If you are fortunate enough to have the right combination of treating physicians and a good Hartford claims examiner/manager then you may have a claim that is processed smoothly and without problem.
Hartford loves performing surveillance
When compared to other insurance companies, Hartford is one of the worst when it comes to performing “activity checks”. Most insurance companies will wait until something tips them off before sending a file to a private investigator to perform surveillance.
Not Hartford. Hartford likes to perform random surveillance periodically just to make sure you’re not trying to hide anything.
They also perform not so random activity checks during times when they expect you to be most active. They tend to know when you have doctors appointments and will have an investigator follow you to and from your appointments. They have also been known to follow claimants deliberately on their birthdays when Hartford expects the claimant to be more active than usual. As soon as they catch you performing any activity outside the “norm” they will attack your credibility and set out to set up interviews and independent medical evaluations to build a case against you.
If you are on claim, it is good practice to have the same doctor complete the Hartford claim forms each time Hartford requests them. The claim forms may be required every three months to every two years but you can be certain that Hartford will be requesting updated claim forms from you periodically. Unless your policy has a specific provision that states you are not required to be under the regular care of a physician due to your chronic medical condition—which is not expected to improve with any available medical treatment—Hartford will always require you to see a doctor on a regular basis and have your doctor complete claim forms.
Doctors frequently mess-up claim forms
If you have been on claim for years then your doctor may have become an “expert” on completing the Hartford claim forms for you. In situations like these it is not as likely that your doctor will make a fatal error in completing the claim forms, although Hartford has been known to change the required forms from time to time which could lead to easy mistakes that will set up the claim to be denied.
Sometimes you have to find a new doctor and some doctors resist filling out disability paperwork
Often, it is necessary to change your treating physicians. This need may arise where you have to change your health insurance carrier and your treating doctor is not in your new insurance company’s network of doctors. If this is the case, you will be forced to find a new doctor or pay your old doctor out of pocket to continue to complete claim forms. It is not a good idea to change doctors while on claim if you can avoid it, especially if it is the main doctor who completes the periodic claim forms.
Unfortunately, you do not always have a choice. Doctors retire and things change that could bring about the need to change doctors. If you are faced with a situation where you may need to change doctors or have recently changed doctors in between medical reviews then you should consult with a disability buyout lawyer before approaching Hartford with a request for a buyout.
Hartford has a specific set of criteria they consider when evaluating a claimant’s eligibility for a lump sum settlement. Some of the same factors that are considered in evaluating a claim to determine ongoing eligibility for future benefits are also relevant in determining whether you will qualify for a Hartford disability buyout.
Hartford will always require a medical review before giving a buyout any consideration and if you received a disability buyout offer from The Hartford you can rest assured that The Hartford performed a medical review of your claim before even looking at the numbers.
As part of the medical review, Hartford will consider various factors including:
Hartford has a predictable way of evaluating claims, especially when they are looking for a reason to deny a claim. 9 times out of 10, a Hartford denial will be based on either a Surveillance investigation, an in-person interview, independent medical evaluation or usually a combination of these.
If, however, you are interested in approaching The Hartford with a proposal for a buyout then you should be prepared for a medical review. Before contacting The Hartford it is to your benefit to contact lawyers best suited in handling buyouts with The Hartford.
The DI Lawyer has handled numerous settlements with The Hartford as well as handled numerous claims at every stage, from the initial application at the onset of the claim to litigating in federal court against The Hartford on a denied claim.
If you have an open offer for a buyout from The Hartford or Aetna you typically get 30 days to consider and accept the offer.