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NOW CLOSED: Talk to Unum about "The Right Time to Talk About a Back Up Plan" - you could win a £250 Amazon voucher

(89 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 24-Sep-12 09:41:44

Following on from the challenge Unum set MNers earlier this year we've now been asked by them to ask your opinions on "The Right Time to Talk about a Back Up Plan".

A Back Up Plan is all about knowing what you'd be entitled to from:

a) your employer
b) any protection policies you have and/or
c) the state (existing benefits you may receive and also any you'd be entitled to due to the change in circumstance)

... should you or your partner be unexpectedly unable to do paid work due to illness or injury.

Unum say "Most of us manage to get by on our monthly wage with some savings for a rainy day, but what would you do if you became ill or were injured and had to stay off work for a long period of time? We know it might be a bit daunting to think about this. But we want to get Mumsnetters talking about Back Up Plans, like income protection - and how and when is the best time to ask about this and start to put something into place".

Unum have produced a guide for helping create a Back Up Plan - please take a few minutes to look at the information on this from Unum and let us know what you think.

~ Have you had this discussion with your workplace? Has your DP/DH?
~ At what point would/did you negotiate your benefits at work - was it when you started, or maybe when you returned to work after maternity leave? Or have you - or would you - raise it at an appraisal?
~ Have you thought about or considered what benefits you or your family would be entitled to should you have to be off work sick, or if your DP was off sick? What do you think you'd get and how would you find out about it?
~ What impact does the recession have on your views of this?
~ If you've successfully asked your employer about this what tips would you pass on?
~ If you're an employer yourself what do you think about this?

For more information on Unum please click here
We have some MN bloggers working on this too and you can read their blogs here and here

Any other comments welcome. If you have questions for Unum please visit https://twitter.com/askunum

Everyone who adds their comments and experiences to this thread will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will get a £250 Amazon voucher.

Thanks and good luck
MNHQ

CMOTDibbler Mon 24-Sep-12 10:55:01

DH and I have talked about it lots. Mostly alas since we've been through redundancy, long term sick leave, and disability between us.

My benefits aren't negotiable, dh has a flexible benefits portfolio, so neither of us discuss at appraisal, but certainly do during employment approaches.

We try and review annually to check we are ok for cover on critical illness etc

firawla Mon 24-Sep-12 11:19:14

I'm pretty sure dh has something to cover for long term illness etc, as part of his work benefits package but don't think we have anything to insure in case of redundancy, we can't really afford to be paying out extra each month for this so I don't think we would get it, they would have to give a lump sum redundancy fee wouldn't they so should help to cover for couple of months til he found something else??
This is not something we've talked about a lot, we would have to just deal with it as it comes but if something does happen to dh income we will be screwed because we don't have any savings and we have a load of debt to pay off too!

We are constantly checking and double checking that our policies are up to date and lokking around to see better deals etc. We, too have been through unemployment and all sorts of financial worries so like to keep on top of it all.

CouthyMowWearingOrange Mon 24-Sep-12 12:07:45

When I get back to work, I won't qualify for employer insurance due to pre-existing health conditions. It would cost more than I could afford even if I WAS accepted, the premiums for someone with uncontrolled epilepsy AND fibromyalgia would be stonkingly enormous.

Plus, 99% of the times I would NEED the cover would be FOR my pre-existing conditions. Which insurance wouldn't pay out for.

Believe me, I HAD insurance in my previous career, before either of my diagnoses. They didn't pay out when I was medically retired because after going through my medical records, it was obvious that my Epilepsy had been misdiagnosed as depression (!) and I had obvious symptoms of complex partial seizures on my medical record. So the insurance company refused to pay out on the basis that it was a pre-existing medical condition.

I lost my career, my house, and my comfortable life when I was diagnosed with epilepsy.

If I return to work (and that's currently a BIG if), it will be PT only, 16 hrs a week or less (All my Neurologist will sign me as fit for), light duties only, in a NMW job. I just won't have a penny spare to even attempt to cover the premiums I would have to pay for insurance.

OrangeKipper Mon 24-Sep-12 12:08:35

Unum has been working with successive UK governments on "welfare reform", ie cuts to state support for the sick and disabled, since the 1990s.

And then running scare campaigns for its own products off the back of these cuts.

Eg 1997 UNUM campaign: "April 13, unlucky for some. Because tomorrow the new rules on state incapacity benefit announced in the 1993 autumn budget come into effect. Which means that if you fall ill and have to rely on state incapacity benefit, you could be in serious trouble."

Unum is expecting growth in business from the restriction of state benefits and the economic downturn, because "Unum is uniquely positioned among benefit providers to capitalize on these opportunities." (Unum 2011 Annual Report p4)

They are trying to dismantle the welfare state - because they're in competition with it.

So we get a choice.

We can have National Insurance, which is not-for-profit and the money is hypothecated so what we pay in NI premiums comes back to us in pensions, sickness benefits and unemployment benefits.

Or we can have private insurers. Which pay for executive jets and profit for shareholders. And like G4S at the Olympics will dump the job back on the government whenever it's too hard.

OrangeKipper Mon 24-Sep-12 12:11:35

Yep Couthy, you're exactly someone who the private insurers have dumped back on the government.

Actually paying out is described by medical insurers as "medical losses". Rather than "delivering the product the customer's been paying for."

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Mon 24-Sep-12 12:13:31

What orangekipper said. Unum are not some nice altruistic helping people out in difficult times.

They are a private health insurance company.

It is in their interests to assist in dismantling state benefits, and scaremongering.

Both of which they do admirably.

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Mon 24-Sep-12 12:17:01

UNUM were accused by the US Government of being 'disability deniers'. Our Govt. think they're marvellous, and are using their model to deny disabled people the means to live dignified lives.

I wouldn't touch them with a very, very long bargepole.

Mumfortoddler Mon 24-Sep-12 12:19:12

I would love to have a backup plan. But the realities are that spare income is hard to come by as a single parent. I don't know how others do it- I'm a director of a charity on a good wage and I still don't have spare income, even though my salary is reasonable and above average. If this government wants us to start saving more money for our own contingency instead of relying on the welfare state it has to do more to drive down the cost of living and increase salaries to reflect year on year cost of living increases, and pressure companies who go for above inflation rises on services. Its critical to independence to give people more than just a hand to mouth wage.

OrangeKipper Mon 24-Sep-12 12:20:25

I'm not sure why Unum have recently moved from targetting individuals to currently targetting employers.

It might be that individuals now have less disposable income.

Or it might be that they're trying to effect structural change, and in a few years will turn round and say to govt, "Look, most employed, proper people have private insurance. So National Insurance is irrelevant."

They're certainly open about funding think tanks to try to "educate policy makers... in hopes we can partner with the public sector in developing a solution to these economic issues." (2011 Annual Report p7)

OrangeKipper Mon 24-Sep-12 12:22:43

x-post with Mumfortoddler!

ouryve Mon 24-Sep-12 12:29:44

YY orangekipper. The reasons these companies find not to pay up are numerous - pretty much the same as people were finding with PPI. And we're finding out over and over again that devolving societal responsibilities, previously dealt with by the state, to private companies who are in it purely for profit is not working. We're seeing it in the NHS, which despite lack of reporting is being slowly dismantled as private companies take over trusts and we've seen how it all goes wrong with G4S at the olympics. Just today we're hearing how the management of electronic tagging is costing 10 times as much as it could because private companies are taking so much money from it.

In their last round, in the 90s, the current government pushed people out of additional state pensions into private pension plans. Yeah, that worked. My husband has only just got back some of the contributions he paid into an Equitable Life money purchase scheme which was decimated by paying shareholders generously than investing that money wisely.

I'm a registered carer and out of the workplace. When i was working, I would have preferred to pay more tax and NI if it meant that there was a more robust safety net for people and my DH feels the same now. I would rather we all paid into a central pot according to ability to pay than only those who have the spare cash pay into a private scheme, such as that provided by Unum, which may or may not pay out when needed, but which would most certainly line the pockets of Unum executives and shareholders.

Wot OrangeKipper said. (I think you should win the vouchers Kipper grin)

OrangeKipper Mon 24-Sep-12 12:43:56

Tying basic welfare to employment contracts will also exacerbate the problems of arm's-length employment.

If you're already well-paid and valued, you'll be offered bonuses like health insurance.

If you're already treated like as disposable, on a "zero-hours contract" (how the fuck is that even a thing?) or told to declare yourself self-employed so the employer can evade employment regs, you're not going to be offered company health insurance.

So it's not even about The Virtuous Workers vs The Undeserving Scroungers.

Hard-working, low-paid, low-valued workers will be screwed.

OrangeKipper Mon 24-Sep-12 12:49:43

grin InigoMontoya

<plans shopping list of "The Price of Inequality: The Avoidable Causes and Invisible Costs of Inequality" and other stuff by Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist at the World Bank>

nameuschangeus Mon 24-Sep-12 12:58:13

Ooh this is interesting. My dp has just had testicular cancer. We have a critical illness policy which covers cancer. But guess what? My thoughtless dh went and got himself the wrong sort of cancer (not serious enough wtf) and they won't pay out. It makes me sick.

And oh yes, just because he's told them and put in a claim and he is now in the system as a cancer sufferer means that any other insurance we ever get will be massively expensive EVEN THOUGH HE HASN'T HAD A PAYOUT. angry

Our mortgage is being paid at the moment by the proceeds from our sold car. He only gets one week paid sick leave. The money we would have got if the insurers hadn't been bastards would have covered that off and taken a major worry off our shoulders at a shit time.

I wouldn't trust an insurance company ever again.

ComplexityAndFecundityOfDreams Mon 24-Sep-12 13:01:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Mon 24-Sep-12 13:14:19

Here are some interesting links about Unum. Don't forget that this company doesn't give a damn about your health - it's all about the money.

Long term disability denial

How they denied disability claims

THERhubarb Mon 24-Sep-12 13:18:35

~ Have you had this discussion with your workplace? Has your DP/DH?
I am self employed so my benefits are negligable. I know that dh has faced redundancy and at the time he was able to negotiate with his employer to re-train as a truck driver. He knows what his redundancy pay would be and knows where he stands if he was made redundant or lost his job through ill-health/injury.

~ At what point would/did you negotiate your benefits at work - was it when you started, or maybe when you returned to work after maternity leave? Or have you - or would you - raise it at an appraisal?
Dh started negotiations when redundancies were being made. We talked it through as a family too.

~ Have you thought about or considered what benefits you or your family would be entitled to should you have to be off work sick, or if your DP was off sick? What do you think you'd get and how would you find out about it?
I am not entitled to any sick pay. Dp does get sick pay but for long term sickness he would eventually be made redundant. We have savings that we use in emergencies and know that one of us would be able to claim disability allowance if proved that we couldn't do our job through ill-health.

~ What impact does the recession have on your views of this?
I think the recession has made it harder for people to be able to afford back-up plans quite frankly. Most people are eating into their savings just to pay the bills. Yes it is important to think about this but the majority of people are left with little choice than to keep their fingers crossed.

~ If you've successfully asked your employer about this what tips would you pass on?
I can only relate dh's experience and that was to talk to your employer about re-training for another role or even re-locating.

I agree that scare-mongering appears to be a tactic of most insurers. People are struggling to get by on what they earn without being pressured to pay extra for an insurance policy they may never use or which will squirm its way out of paying for a claim.

stopcarryon Mon 24-Sep-12 13:34:44

Thanks for links, Sunnywithachanceofshowers -have seen a lot of similar material about Unum's long-term efforts to deny benefits to rightful claimants

www.longtermdisabilityanderisablog.com/unum-found-guilty-of-fraud-by-federal-jury

www.meassociation.org.uk/?p=9217

As nameuschangeus' family has found , private insurance companies
have endless ways of denying claims

Brilliantly said, OrangeKipper

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 24-Sep-12 13:37:52

Thanks for responses so far...Unum asked me to post the below to those with queries/ questions about Unum:

"Unum only provides Income Protection cover to employers. This means they are able to protect their employees' salary if they are unable to work through long term illness or injury. In most instances, it is the employer who pays for the policy, not the employees. This is the same as other benefits you might get through work, such as life insurance. Until March 2012, a small part of Uunum's business was selling to individuals, but this has been closed to focus on the workplace, which Unum believe is the best place to get Income Protection.
Besides costs there are several other reasons why it is better for you to get Income Protection through work. A scheme through work insures a group of people, rather than looking at individuals. This means that, if you're at work when the policy starts, you'll likely to get cover, even if you've had illnesses or other conditions before. If you try to get an individual policy, you probably won't get the same cover. Your company is also likely to have an financial adviser, who will be able to advise on the most suitable scheme - many people don't have an IFA to turn to. Your HR team or the person who looks after your benefits at work is also likely to have had previous experience of buying similar products.

Unum is a completely separate company to Atos, who run the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) for the Employee and Support Allowance (ESA) state benefit. Unum has no involvement with, or visability of, the running of this system. For answers to more questions you might have about Income Protection or Unum or to ask your own question go to blog.unum.co.uk/your-questions/

Unum work hard to protect the incomes of more than 1.9 million people in the UK and in 2011 we paid out more than £5 million a week as payments to our customers".

vic1981 Mon 24-Sep-12 14:23:08

Before maternity leave, i worked in a school, and certainly no negotiation of benefits allowed, either at start or during an appraisal. However, after a few years i was elected to the staff council, and with the council we managed to get my employers to agree provide some additional benefits- e.g. death in service, an improved (private) pension for staff. Before i went on maternity leave, the staff council was working with management looking at providing a better than statutory sickness pay scheme. I think the key factor in successfully persuading my employers to adopt these measures was pointing out, that whilst there would be a financial outlay from them, this would be balanced by them having a more motivated and successful workforce. I remember that staff retention levels were poor at the time, and something that helped inform these decisions was the data showing this to be the case. It was very much also in the employers best interests for something to be done too, as a small fortune was being spend on new staff training, who would then not stay a long time!

Impact of the recession on my views: Ironically, in these times of economic instability, think more people would like income protection, but far less will actually be able to afford it.

OrangeKipper Mon 24-Sep-12 14:27:42

"... decision earlier this year to discontinue the sale of new group long-term care policies. This was a difficult decision because we recognize there's a need in the market for this coverage. After a very thorough analysis, however, we concluded that... it simply no longer met our business and risk management objectives. " Unum 2011 Annual report pp2-3

Unum makes decisions that are good for Unum. It's a profit making company, it's what it does.

Btw this cover they'd like you to pester your employer to buy on your behalf? From the above, looks like it's short-term only...

Hopezibah Mon 24-Sep-12 14:37:18

~ Have you had this discussion with your workplace? Has your DP/DH?

My DH is quite clued up on his entitlements at work from all the paperwork when he started.

~ At what point would/did you negotiate your benefits at work - was it when you started, or maybe when you returned to work after maternity leave? Or have you - or would you - raise it at an appraisal?

Only discussed at start. I suppose it would be a good idea for it to be reviewed annually as part of an appraisal.

~ Have you thought about or considered what benefits you or your family would be entitled to should you have to be off work sick, or if your DP was off sick? What do you think you'd get and how would you find out about it?

I would use the internet to find out in the first instance and then follow up with relevant organisations / governement agencies as appropriate. We are aware of workplace benefits but not any state benefits we would be entitled to.

~ What impact does the recession have on your views of this?

I think the recession put the possibility of job loss on everyone's radar. No job seems 100 per cent secure these days.

~ If you've successfully asked your employer about this what tips would you pass on? n/a
~ If you're an employer yourself what do you think about this?
n/a

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