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Unum was founded as Union Mutual Life Insurance company and was incorporated in Maine in 1848. The company’s first acquisition was in 1940 when they purchased Massachusetts Accident Company’s health and accident business. In 1960 they introduced what would become their flagship product, group disability insurance.
In 1986 they became one of the first mutual companies to convert to a publicly traded company. This change was accompanied by the name change to Unum, and this was followed by several more acquisitions and expansions.
Unum merged in 1999 with Tennessee-based Provident and began operations as UnumProvident, but by 2007 went back to using just the name Unum. Headquarters is now located in the Provident office in Chattanooga, TN, but they still have offices in Portland, Maine as well as several other cities across the country. Unum also operates in the UK.
Unum writes group disability, life, accident, and critical illness along with supplemental health plans for hospitals, dental, and vision. They do not sell to the general public at all, focusing only employer-offered voluntary benefits.
Unum offers an array of group products from which employers can choose the options they want to offer to their employees.
Unum’s top product, disability insurance is available in both short-term and long-term formats. Short-term is offered from 9-52 weeks while long-term can provide coverage up until retirement.
The benefit amount varies and can provide up to 60% of the insured’s income. Short-term disability is portable in some cases, while long-term is portable in most.
Also available an is add-on individual disability that can provide increased benefits and is fully portable.
Unum’s group life plans are available as either term life insurance or whole life insurance. The website does not list details on the plan’s death benefits or issue requirements, which is not surprising since they likely vary based on the options selected by the employer.
Unum’s life insurance can be portable in most cases, but that should be verified with the employer.
Unum’s group accident insurance policy provides benefits paid directly to the insured to cover medical bills including ambulance, hospital, and follow-up treatment.
The amount paid out depends on the type of injury, and the plan includes a benefit for accidental death or dismemberment.
Critical Illness insurance provides a lump sum payment upon diagnosis with a list of covered illnesses, including heart attack, stroke, cancer, organ failure, and blindness.
The amount of the benefit varies and again depends on what is offered by the employer.
This group policy provides a lump sum benefit that can be used for the out of pocket costs associated with a hospital stay. Covered expenses include emergency room co pays, hospital stay coinsurance and co pays, and deductibles.
Dental & Vision
Unum offers both dental and vision insurance plans with access to a large network of providers. The plans vary, but cover things like annual exams, routine dental care and other treatments like fillings, and prescription eyeglasses or contacts.
The available network also varies by area, and there are several plan options that employers can select to offer to their employees.
Since Unum only offers group benefits, rates will vary greatly depending on how much of the cost is being subsidized by the employer and what coverage is being offered.
Group rates are almost always more affordable than individual rates since the cost is shared across many people.
Claims can be filed and managed entirely online by logging into the member area of the website. No claims information is available outside of that area of the site, but there is a toll-free number that can be called to get more information or ask questions about how to file or the status of a claim.
The claims process varies based on the type of product. Since many life insurance beneficiaries may not have access to user accounts for the policyholder, the toll-free number would be the best bet for finding out how to file that sort of claim.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Unum Group has an A- rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), lowered due to six complaints that were not resolved. There are 98 complaints on file in the past three years, and 31 were closed in the past 12 months.
Consumer Affairs has a total of 320 reviews on file, with 35 ratings in the past year adding up to a one-star overall rating. Only one review out of these was five-star, and the rest were one-star. Most of the complaints cite failure to pay claims, either because they have not yet been approved, or have been approved but not payment received.
We often find that group benefits companies do not have a lot of reviews online, since many people handle issues through their company’s HR department. That makes the number of complaints online somewhat unusual for this type of company, and it raises some concerns.
The Bottom Line
Most employees do not have any say in what company is used for group benefits, so the choice comes down to purchasing what is offered or seeking out individual coverage. Unum’s group products are likely more affordable, but their reputation is not as solid as we would like to see. A less expensive policy means little if they do not pay claims; it may well be worth choosing individual policies and paying more.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.