The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: HIG), the leading U.S. seller of group disability insurance, 1 is expanding its claims services to ensure experienced medical experts help ill and injured workers at each step of a short-term disability (STD) claim until they return to an active, productive life.
A key aspect of this industry-leading claims service is having nurses as the first point of contact for the disabled worker. The Hartford has employed nurses to manage STD claims for some large employers for the past four years. Now, the company is making this the standard service for new clients with 50 or more workers and will be moving existing clients to this claims experience over time.
"We have seen great results with nurses as our first point of contact for sick or hurt employees because they resolve complex issues at the earliest stages of an illness or injury, as well as offer compassion and comfort at a difficult time," said Glenn Shapiro, vice president of claims for The Hartford's Group Benefits Division. "With The Hartford's experts providing timely medical insight, workers are getting on the road to recovery faster, and employers are seeing a quicker return to productivity."
That boost in worker productivity translates into STD durations that are on average four days fewer than the industry average, according to the 2008 JHA Disability Fact Book. Employees gain by returning to their full salary, and employers reap improved cost savings, he noted.
"We strongly believe that people want to return to active, productive lives," Shapiro said. "Our expanded disability claims service is part of The Hartford's commitment to help people of all abilities, through products, services, research, and philanthropy."
In addition to nurses handling intake of claims, The Hartford's expanded claims management system has triggers that automatically prompt clinical reviews at key times during a worker's recovery, as well as a specialized team of rehabilitation specialists who facilitate employees' safe return to the workplace after a short-term disability.
When The Hartford's nurses begin working with a disabled employee, they use their seasoned judgment along with established medical guidelines to establish key milestones for case management. In addition, nurses speak directly with the employee's physician(s) to gather additional medical information to ensure the nurses are making the most accurate decisions.
"We understand that being out of work due to an illness or injury can be a difficult period for many people. Employees, particularly those experiencing disability for the first time, value our nurses' expertise and compassionate approach," Shapiro said. "Our nurses, who have an average of 20 years nursing experience, can tackle tough medical situations and find solutions to benefit both the employee and employer."
Medical and behavioral health case managers become involved depending on the claim's duration, the employee's medical situation, and the nurse referrals. In addition, the system automatically flags claims that would benefit from additional involvement by The Hartford's medical experts.
"The Hartford's claims management system represents an investment in people, as well as processes and technology," Shapiro said. "Our system is sensitive enough to prompt clinical intervention, ensuring consistent, professional care throughout a worker's recovery."
The Hartford's team of return-to-work coordinators review all STD claims for employees with return-to-work potential. These rehabilitation specialists determine the right time and the right way to ease employees back into a productive, active life. These experts work with doctors, employees and employers toward creative solutions that will enable a worker to return to productive work, including workplace modifications or helping employees find new jobs that better match their abilities. The coordinators also support workers through the transition.
At the center of The Hartford's claims service is its Ability Philosophy - a focus on abilities, not perceived limitations.
"The Hartford's Ability Philosophy helps individuals return to productivity after a disability and enables businesses to retain experienced employees," Shapiro said. "Our investment in empathetic experts at every step of the STD claims process delivers on our promises to employers and employees - to remove the burden of benefits administration and help them manage their health and their wealth."
The Hartford's Ability Philosophy is demonstrated through its corporate citizenship and philanthropy activities, including its support of U.S. Paralympics, the division of the U.S. Olympic Committee dedicated to recruiting and training elite athletes with physical disabilities; the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit that honors and empowers disabled U.S. veterans; and Casting for Recovery, a national non-profit organization that helps women recover physically and emotionally from breast cancer through fly fishing.
In addition, The Hartford's focus on abilities is evident in how it serves breast and prostate cancer survivors. In 2005, The Hartford became the first insurer in the nation to offer life insurance at standard rates to women age 40 and older who had been treated for early-stage breast cancer. In 2006, The Hartford became the first insurer to offer life insurance to men 60 and older who had been successfully treated for moderately aggressive prostate cancer that was confined to the prostate and that had been surgically removed. Last year, The Hartford became the first U.S. insurer to offer life insurance at standard rates to men who have been successfully treated with radiation for moderate levels of prostate cancer.
Reference: The Hartford is one of the nation's largest financial services companies and a leading provider of investment products, life insurance and group benefits; automobile and homeowners products; and business property and casualty insurance. International operations are located in Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil and Ireland. The Hartford's Internet address is www.thehartford.com.
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