Salesman’s disability benefits are denied by Hartford due to claimant’s failure to communicate with Hartford

William Polk was employed as a Salesman for Tyco International prior to being in an automobile accident on May 24, 2002. As the end of the elimination period in the policy approached, Mr. Polk applied for long-term disability benefits on November 12, 2002.

Hartford granted preliminary approval to Mr. Polk’s disability benefits claim on February 18, 2003, subject to the receipt of additional information, which Mr. Polk provided to Hartford in April 2003. Later that year, in October, Hartford learned that Mr. Polk had not treated with his physicians since June 2003, as the policy required him to do. Mr. Polk also had failed to respond to the attorney Hartford hired to help him apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in April 2003. Similarly, Hartford attempted to reach Mr. Polk by mail and by phone in October, November, and December 2003, and January and April 2004. Mr. Polk responded to none of the letters sent or calls placed.

Subsequent to Mr. Polk’s non-responsiveness, Hartford terminated his disability benefits effective June 1, 2004, via a June 4, 2004 letter. Mr. Polk telephoned Hartford two months later to question why he had not yet received his disability benefits check, at which point Hartford informed him that he had been terminated. On this same call, Mr. Polk confirmed the address to which the letters were sent was the correct address for corresponding with him. Mr. Polk then appealed the termination of his disability benefits on August 3, 2004, claiming that he never received any of Hartford’s letters. Hartford denied this appeal on August 20, 2004.

After filing suit, the court held that Hartford had acted properly in terminating Mr. Polk’s disability benefits. Based on his failure to respond to Hartford or the attorney provided to him for his SSDI claim, Hartford was contractually allowed to terminate Mr. Polk’s disability benefits.

See Polk v. Hartford Life & Accident Ins. Co., No. 07-10090, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82904 (E.D. Mich. Nov. 8, 2007).

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