The American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyer of America) has named Liberty Mutual as the tenth worst insurance company in the United States. The report alleged that Liberty Mutual has adopted a policy of denying, delaying and defending claims rather than simply paying policyholders what they are owed. In addition, Liberty agreed to pay out $7.5 million to New York and Connecticut in response to allegations of systematic bid-rigging.
Based in Boston, Liberty Mutual is the fifth-largest property and casualty insurer in the world and one of the largest corporations in the world. In 2018, Liberty Mutual had $41.6 billion in annual revenue. Lincoln Financial recently acquired a portion of Liberty Mutual’s insurance portfolio, specifically Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, which includes Liberty Mutual’s group disability benefits policies.
If you have a long-term disability (LTD) policy through Liberty Mutual, it is important to understand how this insurance company uses a variety of tactics to deny or delay claims. Doing so can help you put together a successful application for benefits. A skilled New Jersey disability benefits attorney can help with the process, examining your policy, gathering documentation and aggressively advocating on your behalf.
How Liberty Mutual Denies and Delays Long-Term Disability Claims
LTD benefits are designed to help you when you need them most. If you are unable to work due to a disability, those benefits — typically 50 to 60% of your salary — may be the only thing keeping you from financial distress. When an insurance company unfairly denies your application, it can make your already difficult situation (dealing with a disability) even worse.
Liberty Mutual is well-known for denying legitimate claims and for delaying claims so that it ultimately does not have to pay LTD benefits. The company uses a number of tactics designed to avoid paying. Liberty Mutual may inform a policyholder that their claim has died:
- Because the evidence provided does not support the request for LTD benefits;
- Due to a finding that you provided a “materially false” answer on the application for insurance;
- Because you did not prove adequate medical support (even if you applied them with all requested medical authorizations);
- Due to a pre-existing condition that excludes you from coverage under the policy;
- Based on surveillance that Liberty Mutual claims demonstrate that you are not disabled;
- Due to alleged nonpayment of a premium; or
- Because of an interpretation of the policy that benefits Liberty Mutual.
Any of these reasons could lead to you being denied benefits outright. It may also lead to a significant delay in the receipt of benefits if you are required to file an appeal and go through a lengthy process.
For example, if Liberty Mutual claims that you did not provide adequate medical support for your disability claim, it may take some time to demonstrate that you did provide adequate documentation in addition to signed medical releases. Once you have proven this — and/or provided new releases and evidence — it may be several weeks or months before you receive a decision on your case. During that time, you won’t be receiving benefits and may even be able to return to work before the case is fully resolved.
Appealing When Liberty Mutual Denies a Long-Term Disability Claim
If Liberty Mutual denies your application for LTD benefits, then you may be able to file an appeal. All insurance companies are required to act in good faith and to deal fairly with policyholders. If Liberty Mutual is found to have denied a claim in bad faith, then they may be found liable for any damages that a policyholder suffers as a result.
If your claim for LTD benefits is denied, you will typically have a set period of time to file an appeal directly to Liberty Mutual. This timeline will either be governed by your insurance policy or by federal law. If you fail to file an appeal within that time frame, you will likely lose your right to file both an appeal and a lawsuit.
There are two possible outcomes of an appeal: approving your benefits or a denial. If you are denied again, then you may choose to file a lawsuit. One basis for a lawsuit may be that Liberty Mutual acted in bad faith in denying your claim.
Like other insurance companies, Liberty Mutual may deny LTD insurance claims in bad faith. In New Jersey, if a policyholder can show that an insurance company had no reasonable basis to deny the claim, then a bad faith claim can succeed. If the denial was “fairly debatable,” there was no bad faith.
How a New Jersey Disability Benefits Attorney Can Help
Unfortunately for policyholders, Liberty Mutual is known for denying and delaying applications for long-term disability benefits. This can put you in a tenuous financial position as you are unable to work, yet are not receiving the benefits that you need through your insurance policy. A skilled New Jersey disability benefits attorney can help you put together a strong application for benefits to reduce the chances of a denial and then advocate for you throughout the process.
At Bross & Frankel, our team of legal professionals has more than 20 years of experience working with people who cannot work due to disabilities. We understand how challenging this situation is for our clients, and we are committed to helping them achieve the best possible outcome. To schedule a free disability claim review, contact our office today at 856-795-8800 or reach out online.