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Archive for September 2013

Mumsnet & UNUM, A Letter

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UNUM are topical just now, since it was revealed that they are currently involved in a closed ‘fringe event’ at the conferences of all three major political parties taking place at the moment. This is a matter of considerable concern to disability, and associated, activists who view it as further attempts by the insurance company to secure their influence over our health-related benefits no matter which party assumes power at the next election.

Coincidentally, I chanced upon a Mumsnet forum a couple of days ago. It was a Q&A session, on the topic of returning to work/carrying on working with cancer, an obviously sensitive topic. Questions were answered by the head of rehabilitation from UNUM, and centre head of  ‘Maggie’s Cancer Care’, a psychologist.

Among the published questions, which generally were seeking help, one stood out in raising the ‘issues’ about UNUM that many of us find deeply troubling; the influence that many among us believe they’ve brought to bear upon our welfare system since the early 90s, in order to ultimately ‘make a killing’ in selling ‘Income Protection’ to anxious workers unnerved by a severely undermined social security system. I think that about sums it up.

Though, no doubt, there are people working for UNUM, perhaps in areas such as rehabilitation, who believe they are working for the good of their clients, the truth must be faced that this is not a company whose general demeanour I would think Mumsnet would find acceptable since they claim they

“…do not accept advertising from a number of companies including Nestle, because of their aggressive marketing of formula in breach of international standards, and for a number of products, including formula milk, cosmetic surgery or anything that we believe does not sit well with our philosophy…”

So I’ve emailed them today, and am posting the contents here because, as Mumsnet inform us, they do receive thousands of emails and I don’t have a great expectation that mine will have any particular chance of being noticed. At least posted here more people will be able to see, particularly, the list of links at the end, which are individuals who are currently taking UNUM to court for what they contend is an illegitimate non-payment of their insurance benefits, into which they have paid over many years.

The Letter

Dear Mumsnet,

Great respect is due Mumsnet for being an enterprise which has adopted an ethical attitude towards advertising, evidenced by your rejection of companies such as Nestle, and those products which you consider have a negative effect on women’s health or self-esteem.

In light of this I felt compelled to write to you about the insurance company, Unum, with whom you recently ran a Q&A session in your ‘Mumsnet Talk’ section, about return to work while/after suffering from cancer. (Link included)

This company has a more than questionable reputation in the States, having been found guilty of denying health insurance claims wholesale, and operating like a ‘disability denial factory’. Their history in this is freely available on the internet. They also stand accused by many disabled activists in the UK of infiltrating government since the 1990s in order to profit from the increasing withdrawal of benefits from the sick and disabled, as evidenced in the current ‘row’ over Atos Healthcare and the Work Capability Assessment. It is Unum’s ‘model’ which was adopted by, initially, the Conservative government, in order to ‘pare down’ eligibility for health related benefits.

Unum claim to have ‘cleaned up their act’ in the U.S. but the barest research proves that they are still ‘up to their old tricks’ of renaging on claims which people have in good faith paid in into in order protect them, should ill health prevent them working in the future. Its painfully ironic to see them use the language of ‘support’ in your Q&A, when the most evident thing about their company is their disgraceful actions in denying huge numbers of their customers the legitimate payouts that they are due.

Sick people are suffering in the States because of this company. People now in the UK are suffering too, in increasing numbers, because UNUM conspired with our government to utilise UNUM’s model towards the reduction of benefits for those who are by any reasonable measure entitled to them.

You might ask what’s in it for UNUM? The answer is that they seek to prosper from this lack of state support for the sick and disabled; the fear, essentially, that this is engendering, by selling their own ‘Income Protection’ product. If you’re not feeling a little sick by now, then please read the links I’ve put at the end of the email, because these are real people who are right now suffering at their hands.

UNUM, much like this present government, speak the language of ‘support’ while doing the opposite, removing it. And they’re doing it to the most vulnerable of the population.

Here is a list of just some of the law suits currently (2013) being actioned across the United States against UNUM, by sick people, some of whom have lost homes and faced bankruptcy on account of UNUM’s denial of their payouts. There are many, many more instances stretching back well over a decade.

I hope that you will reconsider any association with this company, who have one face for the public, but quite a different one behind the scenes.

Yours sincerely,


The List

South Carolina: Amy Avery (Disability, unspecified)

Seattle, Washington: Rachel Jacobson (Hypereosinophilic Syndrome, heart attack, chronic asthma, other conditions)

Illinois: Clark Weimer Jr (Degenerative disc disease in the lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine)

Florida: Marie Jean (Disabling chronic dyspnea with angina, shortness of breath, pulmonary nodules with hypoxia, arthritis, radiculopathy, myalgia, hypertension, GERD, cardiomegaly with mitral valve prolapse, and other conditions)

Michigan: Michael Sosinski (Brain injury, loss of hearing, brain hemorrhage, cognitive dysfunction)

Michigan: Mary Mora (Fibromyalgia)

Michigan: Sinoun Liv (Chronic debilitating back pain following surgery, nerve damage)

Michigan: Larry Tate (Debilitating IBS, Scoliosis and other conditions)

Georgia: Peggy Powell (Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD, and other conditions)

Massachusetts: Mary Paulk (Lumbar Spondylosis with degenerative disc disease)

Florida: James Randall (Disability, unspecified)

California: Victoria Arendain (Total disability due to back problems treated by multiple surgeries)

Indiana: Lisa Russ (Numerous physical impairments, unspecified)

Florida: James Maxey (Disability, unspecified)

Florida: Kevin Kyarsgaard (Disability, unspecified)

South Carolina: Andre Griffin (Disability, unspecified)

West Virginia: Katie Hall (Husband’s Death Policy Benefits)
(Dismissal due to the issue having been fully dealt with and settled.)

California: Dr Alan M. Gross (Eye surgeon whose diabetes caused blurred vision and hand numbness, complicated by co-morbidy of bone disease in feet)

Texas: Byron (Diagnosed as permanently disabled, serious heart condition. Unum claimed his doctor said he was fit for work, proven to be an untruth.)

Los Angeles: Ruben Don (Disability, unspecified)

California: Leah Bilyeu (Chronic fatigue)

California: Tanya Mondolo, (Avascular Necrosis (bone death) and fibromyalgia, both caused by chemotherapy treatments for Leukemia.)

The following three are mentioned in the link that follows them:

Portland, Oregon: Judy, (Nurse whose staff infection immoblised her for a year. Unum approved her claim, but never paid her any money. Has lost her home & medical bills continue to mount.)

Pennsylvania: Elvira (Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Initially UNUM paid her fees while she awaited government disability. When that was through demanded she pay back money they’d paid her. Lost her home, having to file bankruptcy.)

Oregon: Mason (Heart attack, Drs said he needed five more weeks off work due to delayed healing. Unum rejected doctor’s opinion.)

(Understandably) Unidentified Woman (Anal Cancer. Radiation therapy led to complete loss of control of bowels, resulting ‘accidents’ mean she must shower and wash clothes when they happen. UNUM said she was completely able to continue to work if there was a bathroom within 100 feet of her)

And on, and on…

Which is why…
Unum was listed as number two in the American Association for Justice (AAJ)’s “Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America” in 2012.


Written by bigleyma

September 26, 2013 at 5:13 pm