Insurance Officials Checking UnumProvident ComplaintsNov 19, 2002 | AP
Tennessee and Georgia insurance officials said they are reviewing complaints about UnumProvident Corp., the nation's largest disability insurer.
Everett Sinor, assistant commissioner for insurance in the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, said the department started its review following a report by NBC's "Dateline" last month.
Sinor said agency officials also saw a CBS "60 Minutes" report about the company on Sunday.
"We are going to fulfill our regulatory responsibility," he said.
Sinor said all investigations are confidential.
Georgia insurance officials also said they earlier started a review of complaints against the Chattanooga-based company and planned to have a report finished by the end of December.
UnumProvident executives in a statement Tuesday described the company as a "victim" of negative publicity. Lawsuits filed by a former employee and some customers contend the company routinely denies claims and requires its medical employees to support the denials.
"Behind the allegations are a handful of plaintiff's attorneys and a few disgruntled former employees, all of whom have personal interests in painting a negative view of the industry-leading company," according to the UnumProvident statement.
UnumProvident's stock closed Tuesday at $17.74, up from a 6.68 percent drop to $17.31 on Monday.
The company, which insures some 25 million people, last month went on the offensive ahead of the television reports, predicting they would be unfair.
Sinor said there have been 35 complaints about UnumProvident among 3,643 complaints received by the agency this year. In 2001, there were 28 complaints against UnumProvident, among a total of 3,904, he said.
Dr. Patrick McSharry, who was dismissed as UnumProvident's medical director in January, sued the company in July. Several dozen policyholders have also sued, contending claim applications were unfairly denied.
UnumProvident spokeswoman Linnea Olsen previously said the company has "about 30 percent" of the nation's disability insurance business, with the next largest competitor having about 9 percent.
Olsen said UnumProvident last year handled about 400,000 claims and "about 2 percent were denied." Of those, "less than four-tenths" prompted lawsuits, she said.
About 3,500 people work for UnumProvident in Portland, Maine, where the former Unum Corp. was founded. UnumProvident was created by the 1999 merger of the Unum Corp. and The Provident Companies, based in Chattanooga, where there are more than 2,217 workers.
Olsen said UnumProvident employs about 100 doctors at claims offices in Chattanooga; Portland; Worcester, Mass., and Glendale Calif.