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Extras! Extras!

Voluntary benefits bring goodwill with a small price tag, but watch out for liabilities.

Ilan Mochari, CFO Magazine
February 22, 2005

Liberty Mutual - Human Capital

In regards to the 03/07/2006 Liberty Mutual article and ERISA; I cannot stress enough to stay away from Liberty Mutual products. When I was injured, I was insured through my employer and partially self-funded for disability insurance through Liberty Mutual. In 2002, I injured my back and by November, I was completely paralyzed from my waist down and subsequently suffered bladder dysfunction. When the point came that I needed to see a neurosurgeon Liberty Mutual started denying my claim. During my sort term disability, they sent copious amounts of paperwork to my supervisor, my doctors, and myself. Ultimately, I was responsible by contract to complete the paperwork. If one area did not fill out the paperwork my claims would automatically be denied. (Even though all paperwork was supposed to go through me.) Their claims representative would tell me to fill out forms within 10 days of another and their supervisors would tell me it was not necessary. They refused to comply with HIPPA regulations, backdated letters, purposely extended the period in which they would review prior-approvals etc.. Ultimately, I was denied STD once and LTD altogether. I am on my fifth related back surgery this March with a spinal chord stimulator and have no LTD. I still self-catheterize periodically and have had two three-level disc fusions. Of course, they claim that I am completely able to work a sedentary job. It was clear from the beginning of a serious medical issue, ergo ERISA that I was to be denied benefits. In twenty-five years of working, I had not known a single person to be denied benefits. That year, three people from the same demographic location were denied. It gets worse; Fleet Bank purchased Liberty Mutuals financial arm in 2002. (The year I was injured) Their COB, Gary Countrymen, sat on the board of directors overseeing Fleet's executive compensation pkg. That same year Fleet changed its 401K retirement to Liberty ACORN. That same year the SEC stated their was a conflict of interest between Countrymen's board position and Liberty Mutual. That was accepted and changed his role as overseer of Fleet's Human Resource department. Folks, guess which department hires Liberty Mutual to oversee Short Term Disability, Long Term Disability and Workmen’s Compensation. There were some very nice executive pay packages released that year. Yet, I am left permanently disabled and without the disability benefits that was touted when I was hired as a Senior Project Manager. Sincerely, John Waterbury

Posted by John Waterbury | March 07, 2006 10:09 pm

Valid, but Incomplete

The factors cited in this article supporting growth of voluntary benefits are valid, but incomplete.

In 2005, several states passed laws setting substantial penalties for employers and their external service providers and partners (payroll, benefits, records, security, unions, etc.) that fail to provide "reasonable safeguards" over workers' identity data. Court precedents have also established civil liability for this failure. And the truth is, almost every company has significant issues -- gaps in process and security -- that expose data. Every HR or IT person knows about these issues -- spreadsheets with confidential data, or reports available freely on the Intranet, or access to data by temps, or accounts that are not secure or properly terminated, and more.

This liability is TRULY significant. 10 million ID thefts occur every year, and OVER HALF occur in the workplace, or are thefts of worker data. This is the basis of recent calculations estimating potential liability at over $500 per employee per year for all those companies that have security gaps.

In this context, effective identity protection offered as an employee benefit -- whether voluntary or employer-paid -- is a great value for the employer, and also in high demand by employees. The best programs provide effective prevention, monitoring, insurance, and recovery.

Posted by Peter Marshall | January 09, 2006 09:18 am

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