Earlier this year Lincoln Financial and Liberty Mutual Insurance Group entered into an agreement in which Lincoln purchased Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, the group disability and life insurance group benefits portion of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group. For insured with disability or life insurance benefits provided by their employer, Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston is most commonly known as Liberty Mutual as that is the name most prominent on correspondence from the company and as such, most insured simply know the company as Liberty Mutual. For ease of reference and for purposes of this article we will refer to Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston as “Liberty” to avoid any added confusion.
To some, the purchase of Liberty by Lincoln has come as a sigh of relief. Many people who have had to deal with Liberty as it relates to a claim for disability benefits, or whose claims for disability benefits have been denied by Liberty will tell you of the difficulty in dealing with the company. Although all disability insurance carriers come with their own set of problems, historically Lincoln has built a reputation amongst group disability insurance carriers for providing fair reviews of claims for disability benefits. As the transition from Liberty to Lincoln continues we have recently started to receive correspondence for clients covered by Liberty as to Lincoln’s new role relating to ongoing Liberty disability claims. As this transition is relatively new (as of May 2018) it remains to be seen exactly how the acquisition of Liberty by Lincoln will unfurl and what that will mean for insureds already on claim with Liberty or for individuals whose employers provide disability and life insurance policies through Liberty.
Since the purchase was announced in the beginning of this year our office has observed a marked increase of disability claim denials from Liberty. Although we certainly suspect that the increase in Liberty disability claim denials is a result of the purchase, we have no way to prove that Liberty is/was trying to clear out cases in advance of the transition. However, we can say that Liberty’s scrutiny of claims appeared to be at a heightened level compared to previous years. With that being said, on the other side of the coin we have not observed an increase in negative claim decisions/denials from Lincoln, a fact that could bode well for those who are currently on claim with Liberty and whose claims are being transitioned to claims handling by Lincoln.
For those who have not yet filed a claim for disability benefits and whose employers provide disability coverage through Liberty it will remain to be seen as to whether Lincoln maintains the Liberty policies or replaces the existing policies with Lincoln policies. If the latter occurs there are some key difference between the policies that Lincoln and Liberty write – the main differences being Lincoln’s requirement of a two-step administrative appeal process in the event of a disability insurance claim denial and the policy language each carrier uses as it relates to disability, limitations due to certain medical conditions, and how occupations are defined.
Regardless of whether your disability benefits are with Liberty or Lincoln, the purchase of the former by the latter will result in some changes moving forward. If you have been contacted by Lincoln as it relates to your Liberty claim, or you are experiencing claim difficulties with Liberty similar to what’s noted above please feel free to contact our office for a free consultation with one of our disability insurance attorneys.