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60 Minutes To Air Its Probe Of UnumProvident

Nov 14, 2002 | The Chattanoogan

60 Minutes, the CBS Sunday night newsmagazine, will air a story next Sunday on Chattanooga-based UnumProvident.

The segment will be titled "Did Insurer Cheat Disabled Clients?, according to CBS.

The investigative piece comes on the heels of one by NBC on its Dateline program.

UnumProvident officials have denied the charges, saying that a large majority of claims are paid, though mistakes may have been made on a few cases.

CBS said this about the upcoming program that will air at 7 p.m.:

Former workers at the nation’s largest disability insurer accuse their former employer of cheating disabled people out of the money entitled to them in a companywide effort to fatten the bottom line.

One worker tells Ed Bradley that bonuses were awarded to some managers who closed especially large claims. Bradley’s report on the UnumProvident Insurance Company will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Among the former employees is Gina Hartley, a claims handler who resigned recently from the firm’s Chattanooga headquarters. Hartley says each department had monthly monetary savings goals set for them, amounts they had to hit by shutting down claims. Hartley says the pressure to reach these goals often led to the termination of legitimate policies. “No doubt about it,†she says.

Some of the terminations apparently resulted in bonuses for the staff who shut down those claims. “There were staff meetings that we sat in, that the manager would say,'So-and-so just closed a $2 million claim today,' and everybody would give them a hand and, two or three weeks later, lo and behold, that person would end up being presented with a bonus, a check, money,†Hartley tells Bradley.

More than a dozen current and former employees of UnumProvident, including vice presidents, confirmed some or all of Hartley’s allegations. Closing claims has resulted in nearly 3,000 lawsuits against the company in the last five years alone. Hartley says the company was savvy about closing policies in certain states, however. “We would get guidance as far as what state you might be able to close this claim in…‘This is a tougher state, they’ve stronger insurance commissioners…strong courts, courts that favor the insured. Better not mess with this one too much,’" Hartley says the company’s lawyers warned.

UnumProvident provides 17 million Americans with disability insurance privately or through their employers. Of America’s largest corporations, 22 percent, including CBS, use it. UnumProvident declined to talk to 60 Minutes on camera, but its executives repeatedly denied any targets were set for saving money by closing claims. They said the company occasionally makes mistakes, as it processes 400,000 claims a year

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