When the fight against insurance follows the disease

Munich. Brigitte Lauer (name changed) seems self-assured and is not easily led astray. “She often thought about giving up,” admits the 40-year-old former dentist. She does not refer to the rare disease she diagnosed with the unpronounceable name of semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome. “It’s a disease of the vestibular system,” explains Lauer. This was associated with severe symptoms for her. Falls, vomiting and fainting and all that in an ambush.

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“I went to bed healthy and woke up sick,” says the doctor. But the disease was only one thing. What brought her to the brink of despair was her further struggle with her disability insurance (BI).

Paperwork was almost impossible to handle

“It all started with an initial application form and about 25 pages long,” recalls Lauer. That was two months after an operation in July 2019, when it became clear that she would never be able to work as a dentist again. Even this paperwork was nearly impossible to handle back then. After the operation, the patient first had to come to terms with her motor skills again. “It’s like having a stroke,” she explains. There was also hearing loss and vision problems.

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“I needed attention,” Lauer clarifies. In such a situation, people who are unable to work must make it clear to their insurance company that they can no longer work, at least in their original job. The first step is admitting it to yourself. “I didn’t want to believe it,” admits Lauer.

Every fourth or fifth person becomes unable to work

Statistically, one in four or five people in Germany becomes unable to work in the course of their working life. Cases are on the rise, especially in women under the age of 40. “She was totally knocked out, she was so scared, she was totally overwhelmed,” the doctor describes her state at the time the insurance company arrived with endless questions.

Since his illness is barely known, he understands it in principle. Then she had to present six certificates. “I thought that was it.” A mistake. Her doctors kept asking for more statements, which Lauer had to obtain as a patient. Even an expert opinion was not enough for the insurance company.

“We can do that with your BU pension,” Julia Reese assured him at the time. She is a supervisor on the MLP financial advisor service team, who arranged the BU policy for Lauer. Since 2016, this team has been serving BU policyholders who are having trouble enforcing their claims at no additional cost.

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This can take a long time. “I’ve had cases that have lasted anywhere from three days to two and a half years,” says Reese. Actually, the lawyer and insurance specialist is the contact person for the MLP consultants. He sometimes he also comes into direct contact with the insured.

The need for care is great.

Your need is great, care is well received. In 2018, MLP’s five-member team handled 179 cases. In 2020 there were already a good 500, a number that is also forecast for this year. “I’ve never had the feeling that someone is trying to do something with scams. A lot of people are just helpless and overwhelmed,” Reese says of her experience with people who have just become disabled.

The fact that mental illness has been the leading cause of work disability for several years, with rates close to a third, fits with the excess demand. Anyone who has been a victim of depression or suffers from burnout can often do little with questions from a BU insurer. But even those like Lauer who can’t work for other reasons have a lot to digest. Constantly asking BU insurance companies is quickly perceived as a problem and not a solution.

The Insured Association advises against going alone

“I felt like a supplicant and a cost factor,” says Lauer. She also got the idea that she was being consciously driven to give up her claims. Without the advice that accompanied her, she would hardly have been able to endure. The Insured Federation (BdV) also advises against acting alone.

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“If a consumer applies for a BU insurance benefit, they should not do it alone, but get professional support,” says Constantin Papaspyratos, BU expert at the BdV.

They can be specialized insurance advisers or lawyers who usually charge a few hundred euros for it. Insurers like Allianz also offer support. However, often only the initial consultation is free. With MLP as an intermediary, policyholders do not have to pay anything extra, even if the process takes years.

Support is important

A study by the analysis company Morgen & Morgen also shows the importance of support. The main reason for an unpaid BU pension is the fact that at some point a client no longer responds to questions, which is easy to understand from Lauer’s description.

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Read more after the announcement

“I have the great advantage of being medically trained,” emphasizes the former dentist. He also remembers an episode in which an ophthalmological certificate was required. The first ophthalmologist congratulated her on her practice when he found out that it was BU insurance. It was clear to him that this could result in many inquiries.

Since the end of 2020, Lauer’s BU insurance has acknowledged that he is unable to work. She six months ago she gave birth to a girl, but she wants to go back to work. She tried her luck as a science journalist before she was born and plans to do so now. A good life is still possible, albeit with restrictions. Hearing and visual impairments are permanent. Even cycling is no longer motorized, and it works on people. “The dentist never goes again,” laments the 40-year-old man.

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