Frequently asked questions

Here is a list of answers to questions our customers have been asking during the COVID-19 emergency. Some of the answers confirm existing policies or procedures. Others indicate where we are temporarily making an exception to better support our customers during the pandemic.

Unless otherwise noted, the following information does not apply to Individual Disability Insurance (IDI).

Please note that any exception to a policy provision only applies if that provision is included in the policy. Unless otherwise noted, all other policy provisions continue to apply.

Exceptions may be reevaluated, corrected or limited at any time. We will communicate any revisions promptly.

Important note about premium payment

We can continue to cover employees under the circumstances described in the FAQs below as long as premiums continue to be paid. We understand that some employers are reducing hours or earnings for employees as the pandemic creates financial hardship. Please note that you must continue to pay premiums based on your employees’ earnings and benefit elections before the pandemic, so they can receive benefits based on those earnings, when applicable, if they file a claim.

Maintaining coverage for current policies and customers questions

Updated 5/20/20

 

Can employees maintain their inforce coverage during furloughs, temporary layoffs, leaves of absence or reductions in hours worked? 

We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic may require customers to unexpectedly furlough, temporarily lay off or provide leave of absence for employees. During this pandemic, we will continue to cover employees who are not currently working for their employers or who experience a reduction in hours or earnings, under these conditions: 

Group coverage:

  • We will consider furloughed employees to be on approved temporary layoff or leave of absence.

  • Employees on a temporary layoff or leave of absence that began on or before May 31, 2020 will remain eligible for coverage for 90 days or the length of the temporary layoff/leave of absence provision in your policy, whichever is greater.

  • Employees on a temporary layoff or leave of absence that begins after May 31, 2020, will remain eligible for coverage for the length of the temporary layoff/leave of absence provision in your policy.

  • Unum is aware that our customers are facing extraordinary challenges at this time. If you have a unique situation that merits additional consideration, we encourage you to contact your Unum representative to discuss your specific needs.

  • Premium payments should be based on the employee’s earnings, when applicable, prior to the change in hours or work status.

  • During this pandemic, we will not strictly apply minimum-hours-worked requirements for an employee to be considered actively employed.

Accident, Individual (including IDI) and Health benefits:

  • Employees are eligible to keep their coverage as long as they pay their premiums.

  • If premium payroll deductions are discontinued, we will send a conservation letter allowing the employee to be direct billed or the employee can port or convert their coverage, depending on the benefit.

Dental and Vision:

  • Employees on temporary layoff or leave of absence may keep their coverage for up to a year, as long as the premiums are paid.

Statutory Plans Insured by Unum (NY DBL, NY PFL, NJ TDB, Hawaii TDI)

Unum’s interpretation of state law is that employees who have been furloughed are ineligible for benefits under New York’s Disability Benefits and Paid Family Leave laws, New Jersey’s Temporary Disability Benefits law, and Hawaii’s Temporary Disability Insurance law.

This is primarily because a furlough is akin to a temporary leave of absence — not a termination — and these state laws either stipulate or imply that employees on temporary leave of absence are not eligible for coverage. (New Jersey extends TDB coverage for two weeks after the temporary leave of absence or furlough begins.)

Given this, premiums are not required from employees while they are furloughed. After the employee returns to work and premiums restart, employees become eligible for benefits without having to satisfy a new waiting period.

It is important to note that furloughed employees might be eligible for unemployment benefits. The New York Attorney General’s Office indicates that employees may be entitled to unemployment insurance payments for 26 weeks if they are permanently or temporarily laid off through no fault of their own. Please check with your state’s unemployment office for benefits eligibility and requirements.

Can employees maintain their coverage while they are quarantined and unable to work?

If an employee is quarantined based on a government order, or if the quarantine is an approved leave as defined by your policy’s leave provisions, the individual will be considered “actively employed.” They would thus be eligible to maintain their coverage, provided premiums are paid. People who self-quarantine will be considered to be actively employed for the length of time recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (currently two weeks).

Can employees maintain their coverage if our company falls below the participation requirements in our contract?

Our current process is flexible, allowing 90 days of continued coverage if your employment falls below the required number of insured people. To account for impacts to your business caused by COVID-19, we have temporarily paused policy terminations due solely to low participation until September 1, 2020.

How are you handling re-enrollments scheduled between April and July?

We will allow inforce re-enrollments with an anniversary date from April 1 to July 1, 2020 to be delayed for up to 90 days.

If an employee is on leave/furlough and has a qualifying life event, when would the employee be able to change their elections?

If otherwise allowed by the policy, and premiums are paid, election changes may be made for a qualifying life event / status change as follows:

  • If furloughed on or before May 31, 2020, an employee can change their elections for 90 days or the length of the temporary layoff/leave of absence provision in your policy, whichever is greater.

  • If furloughed after May 31, 2020, an employee can change their elections for the length of the temporary layoff/leave of absence provision in your policy.

All other plan requirements, such as Evidence of Insurability, will apply.

Can a late entrant enroll in coverage at an annual enrollment while on a covered furlough, temporary layoff or leave of absence?

Yes. Late entrants can apply for coverage while on a covered furlough, temporary layoff or leave of absence at an annual enrollment or at a time otherwise allowed by the policy. Coverage will take effect when Evidence of Insurability is received and approved by Unum, if required, and the employee returns to active employment. All policy provisions will apply.

Can an employee elect increases in coverage during an annual or open enrollment that occurs while they are on a covered furlough, temporary layoff or leave of absence?

Yes, provided they remain covered during the furlough, temporary layoff or leave of absence. The date the increased amount goes into effect depends on the specific policy language. All policy provisions will apply.

If the employee falls out of a covered furlough, temporary layoff or leave of absence status before the increased coverage goes into effect, they will need to reapply when they return to active employment, as defined by the policy.

What plan rules apply when an employee returns to active employment?

Different rules apply based on the type of benefit, when the furlough, temporary layoff or leave of absence began; how long the employee was away from work; and whether premiums continued to be paid during the time away from work.

Group benefits

Employees don’t need to re-enroll if premiums are paid during the furlough, temporary layoff or leave of absence AND:

Furlough, temporary layoff or leave of absence began: Employee returns to work:
On or before May 31, 2020 Within 90 days, or the length of the temporary layoff/leave of absence provision in the policy, whichever is greater
After May 31, 2020 Within the length of the temporary layoff/leave of absence provision in the policy

If employees return to work outside of these time frames OR if premiums are not paid during the furlough, temporary layoff or leave of absence, they would need to re-enroll in coverage. They would be subject to any rehire provisions in the contract, which generally waive the employee waiting period if the employee is rehired within a specified period of time.

All provisions of the contract would apply, with the following administrative exceptions:

  • Group Disability. If an employee was previously enrolled at the same coverage level and had already satisfied the pre-existing condition exclusion period, we won’t apply a new pre-existing period, as long as the employee is rehired within six months of their coverage end date, or within the rehire term in the policy, whichever is less. The coverage end date equals the date for which premium payments cease.

  • Group Life. If an employee was previously enrolled at the same coverage level, we won’t require evidence of insurability for the re-enrolled coverage, as long as the employee is rehired within six months of their coverage end date or within the rehire term in the policy, whichever is less. The coverage end date equals the date for which premium payments cease.

Employees rehired at reduced hours can continue to be eligible for benefits subject to all provisions in the contract. Continued eligibility requires the employee to meet minimum hour requirements upon return and benefits would be based on current earnings as defined in the contract. Enrollment requirements are based on scenarios described in the two previous FAQs.

Voluntary benefits

Employees don’t need to re-enroll if premiums are paid during the furlough, temporary layoff or leave of absence and they return to work immediately after the furlough, temporary layoff or leave of absence, ends.

If premiums are not paid during the time away from work, coverage will lapse. For these benefits, however, they may not need to re-enroll. These conditions apply:

  • For employees furloughed on or after March 1, 2020 due to COVID-19, and who had coverage before being furloughed, we will work with you to reinstate their coverage upon request once they return to active employment up through December 31, 2020.

    • Payment of past due premium is expected and required to keep coverage intact continuously.

    • We are willing to reinstate coverage with a new effective date and will not cover the gap period during which premiums weren’t paid. Please make sure your employees understand this.

    • If an employee reinstates with the same coverage level, we will not require Evidence of Insurability or apply a new pre-existing conditions exclusion period, provided the employee already satisfied the pre-ex period before their coverage lapsed.

  • We can only reinstate certain voluntary benefits with a gap in coverage. Therefore, reinstatement may require the employee to pay any past due premiums. Employees who cannot make these payments will need to re-enroll.

  • For any reinstatement requests after December 31, 2020, the employee will need to re-enroll for new coverage and will be subject to all policy rules. However, they would still have the advantage of any re-hire provisions stated in the underlying policy, as applicable.

  • Employees rehired at reduced hours will be considered actively at work and eligible to reinstate their coverage, as long as they are expected to return to full active employment and will meet the minimum hours requirement under the policy by December 31, 2020.

What options are available for employees whose group Life coverage contains portability or conversion provisions?

If an employee is temporarily laid off, on leave of absence, or furloughed, but remains an active employee, and if the employer is no long remitting the premium, an employee can convert their coverage to an individual policy, with guaranteed coverage and no requirement for evidence of insurability. Once the employee returns to work and is re-enrolled under the group policy, they can choose to cancel or keep this converted coverage.

If the employee does not return to active employment and is subsequently terminated, they can keep their converted individual policy. However, because premium was not remitted for the employee while they were on temporary leave or furloughed, they will not have the option to port their coverage. If premium is paid during the furloughed period, the employee is eligible to port or convert that coverage, effective on the date of termination.

If an employee:

  • is temporarily laid off, on leave of absence, or furloughed

  • remains an active employee

  • has premiums paid for coverage during the permitted 90-day furlough/layoff period

  • is then terminated from employment at the end of the furlough/layoff period

they would be able to port their coverage at that time only, because premiums have been paid.

Maintaining coverage for new employees on current policies questions

Updated 4/10/20

Can new hires, newly eligible employees and employees enrolled in a recent open enrollment continue to satisfy their coverage waiting period if they are quarantined or furloughed due to COVID 19?

Quarantined employees

We will consider quarantined employees to be actively employed if they are quarantined pursuant to a government order or if their quarantine is an approved leave in accordance with the leave provisions of the applicable policy.

We will consider individuals who self-quarantine to be actively employed for a period of time consistent with the quarantine period recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (currently two weeks).

These periods of active employment will count toward satisfying the coverage waiting period.

Furloughed employees, including reduced-hour furloughs

  • Group benefits

    • If an employee is furloughed on or before May 31, 2020 and before their effective date of coverage, we will allow up to 90 furlough days to count toward satisfying the waiting period.

    • If the waiting period is satisfied during the first 90 days while the employee is on furlough, then the effective date of coverage is the day after the waiting period is satisfied. Premium payments would need to begin as of the effective date, and be based on earnings prior to furlough or any reduction of hours. All other provisions apply.

    • If the waiting period is not satisfied during the first 90 days while on furlough, or if the employee is furloughed after May 31, 2020, the employee will need to enroll in new coverage when they return to active employment.

  • Voluntary benefits

    • If a new hire is furloughed or laid off before their coverage becomes effective, they are not covered.

    • Coverage elected would go into effect as follows: If the employed is furloughed after the coverage effective date, and no premiums have been deducted or applied, we will review the claim. If payable, we would deduct the premium (either to the date of loss or to the end of the benefit payable period) to bring the policy up to date.

    • Voluntary benefits that require waiting periods may be able to be administered with the group furlough exception as described above. Please see your Unum service consultant for more information.

Do newly eligible employees under an IDI GSI plan qualify for coverage if quarantined or furloughed due to COVID 19?

  • GSI offers are available to all eligible full-time employees as defined in the offer letter.

  • If an individual is furloughed at the time of eligibility, they can apply for coverage under the parameters of the GSI offer once they return to work full time and are performing their usual duties, provided they are asymptomatic and have no restrictions or limitations.

  • If an individual is quarantined and/or working from home but asymptomatic they would be eligible for coverage.

  • If an individual is quarantined and/or unable to perform their job at from home, they would be ineligible for coverage. However, an individual can reapply for coverage under the terms of the GSI offer once they have returned to work full time performing their usual duties, provided they are asymptomatic and have no restrictions or limitations.

Maintaining coverage for new policies and customers questions

Updated 5/20/20

When Unum is taking over coverage from another carrier, will employees who are on a COVID-19-related furlough, temporary layoff or leave of absence at the time of the takeover be eligible for new benefits?

Yes, provided they were covered and actively at work before the furlough, temporary layoff or leave of absence and the premium continues to be paid. Premiums must be based on the employee’s earnings prior to the temporary layoff, leave of absence or reduction in hours or salary.

How are you handling not-previously-covered employees who were in the process of satisfying their waiting period at time of change in carrier, if they are quarantined or furloughed due to COVID 19?

Quarantined employees

We will consider quarantined employees to be actively employed if they are quarantined pursuant to a government order or if their quarantine is an approved leave in accordance with the leave provisions of the applicable policy.

We will consider individuals who self-quarantine to be actively employed for a period of time consistent with the quarantine period recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (currently two weeks).

These periods of active employment will count toward satisfying the coverage waiting period.

Furloughed employees, including reduced-hour furloughs

  • Group benefits

    • If an employee is furloughed on or before May 31, 2020 and before their effective date of coverage, we will allow up to 90 furlough days to count toward satisfying the waiting period.

    • If the waiting period is satisfied during the first 90 days while the employee is on furlough, then the effective date of coverage is the day after the waiting period is satisfied. Premium payments would need to begin as of the effective date, and be based on earnings prior to furlough or any reduction of hours. All other provisions apply.

    • If the waiting period is not satisfied during the first 90 days while on furlough, or if the employee is furloughed after May 31, 2020, the employee will need to enroll in new coverage when they return to active employment.

  • Voluntary benefits

    • If a new hire is furloughed or laid off before their coverage becomes effective, they are not covered.

    • If the employee is furloughed after the coverage effective date, and no premiums have been deducted or applied, we will review the claim. If payable, we would deduct the premium (either to the date of loss or to the end of the benefit payable period) to bring the policy up to date.

    • Voluntary benefits products that require waiting periods may be able to be administered with the group furlough exception as described above. Please see your Unum service consultant for more information.

What do I do if an IDI enrollment is impacted by COVID-19?

Some states are now requiring non-essential employees to stay at home and may require employers to prioritize responsibilities. If an enrollment just started or can no longer be supported, we will work closely with you to determine if an open enrollment can be supported later this year or in 2021.

What if an IDI enrollment has unfavorable participation results during this time period?

We understand this is a challenging time for all. We will work closely with you to determine when another open enrollment can be supported later this year or in 2021.

Are employees who are below the minimum numbers of hours required on a prior carrier’s policy eligible for benefits at takeover?

Yes, provided premium continues to be paid. Premiums must be based on earnings prior to the temporary layoff, leave of absence or reduction in hours or earnings. We will not strictly enforce the minimum hours requirement during this pandemic.

Billing and payment questions

Updated 4/10/20

Does a business closure or reduction of our employee base due to the pandemic affect the premium remittance process?

We understand this is a challenging time for your business. We’re committed to delivering dependable service as you navigate the effect on your workforce. We also remain committed to ensuring you and your employees are supported during this time, including helping employees keep their valuable coverage. We will continue to perform billing services as normal, and subject to any state-mandated requirements about premium grace periods (see grace period question below). However, if you anticipate having any issues with remitting your premiums due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, please contact AskUnum at askunum@unum.com or connect with your Billing Coordinator.

If you do not make arrangements to pay premiums, the coverage will be terminated. Termination dates will depend on the type of coverage you have:

  • Group Disability Insurance. Coverage will end on the day the employee is furloughed or laid off.

  • Dental and Vision. Coverage will end the day the employee is furloughed or laid off. If you employ more than 20 people, you’re required to offer COBRA insurance to the employee.

  • Voluntary benefits and Individual Disability Insurance (IDI). The coverage will end on the furlough or layoff date. Unum will mail a letter directly to the employee with options for maintaining their coverage directly with Unum.

  • Individual Disability Insurance (IDI).We will work with employers to discuss payment options. If the employer chooses not to pay the premium, then individual policyholders will be sent premium notices to continue their coverage. For specific questions, please reach out to your billing contact or call us at 1-800-633-7490.

My company is temporarily closed or operating with limited capacity. Are you going to extend your payment grace period?

We understand that COVID-19 presents a very unique challenge, and we want to help you maintain coverage for your employees. Your contract of benefits contains a premium grace period that allows coverage to continue for a period of time. Please refer to your contract to review the provisions and administration of the grace period.

As your grace period nears expiration, we will communicate with you before your coverage lapses, to work through your situation and better understand your ability to remit payment. Any dental or vision service rendered after the grace period expiration will pend (neither deny nor process) until the premium is paid to date; or the policy is terminated. Additionally, we are closely monitoring any state directives on premium grace periods and will update our guidelines and processes with state notices as appropriate.

If your policy does terminate, we will work closely with you through the reinstatement process.

If you would like to discuss your specific issue and request, please contact Ask Unum at askunum@unum.com or connect with your Billing Coordinator.

I receive a paper bill and I'm unable to go to the office to retrieve it. What should I do?

If you can’t get to your office to pay your bill, we will honor the bill-payment grace period in your contract. We can help by providing an electronic copy of your bill or setting you up for online self-serve access and payment. Please contact AskUnum at askunum@unum.com for assistance. For Individual Disability Insurance (IDI), please reach out to your billing contact or call us at 1-800-633-7490.

Our company typically mails a paper check to pay premiums, but since our office is closed, we can’t do that. What options do we have ?

Unum offers ACH electronic payment for all our Group, Voluntary Benefits and Individual Disability benefits. Contact Ask Unum at 1-800-275-8686 or at askunum@unum.com for further information on how to set up ACH payment for your policy.

Group benefits customers can make a one-time premium payment via phone. Please contact Ask Unum at 1-800-275-8686. For prompt processing, please have your group policy number, business checking account and routing number ready.

Benefits and services questions

Updated 5/20/20

Do Unum’s benefits and services cover COVID-19-related claims?

Some of our benefits and services would cover COVID-19-related claims, and we will follow the provisions in our policies and service agreements to determine coverage, as we would for any other diagnosis.

Here’s a brief description of how we would approach COVID-19-related claims, assuming all other policy provisions have been met.

  • Short Term Disability Insurance (individual and group)

    Fully insured: If a person is diagnosed with COVID-19 and becomes disabled as defined in the policy, a claim for Short Term Disability benefits would likely be payable after the elimination period. Individuals who are quarantined without a diagnosis and not sick generally would not have a payable claim.

    Administrative Services Only (ASO): We are continuing to administer self-insured Short Term Disability customers per their contract, and we recommend employers adhere to the initial intent of the disability plan, which is to ensure that all employees and conditions are handled consistently. View more ASO guidance below.

  • Long Term Disability

    Fully insured: If a person is diagnosed with COVID-19 and becomes disabled as defined in the policy, a claim for Long Term Disability benefits would likely be payable after the elimination period. As with Short Term Disability, individuals who are quarantined but not sick generally would not have a payable claim.

    Administrative Services Only (ASO): We follow the same approach we use with fully insured Long Term Disability customers.

  • Individual Disability Insurance (IDI)

    We would likely approve a claim for IDI filed by someone with a COVID-19 diagnosis after the elimination period, if the definition of disability has been met. As with other products, individuals who are quarantined but not sick generally would not have a payable claim.

  • Accident Insurance

    Accident Insurance does not provide benefits for the diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19, except where it includes a Sickness Hospital Confinement Rider, which may provide benefits if the individual is hospitalized for a covered sickness.

  • Critical Illness Insurance

    COVID-19 is not considered a covered condition under our Critical Illness products except where the contract includes “Infectious Disease.” In that case, the requirements specified in the contract must be met — generally that the individual must have a positive diagnosis and be confined to a hospital (not to home) for a minimum of 14 consecutive days.

  • Hospital Indemnity Insurance

    Individuals who are admitted or confined to the hospital after a COVID-19 diagnosis may be eligible for benefits, provided all other provisions of the policy are met, including facility definition.

  • Life Insurance

    COVID-19 is a covered illness for our group and voluntary Life Insurance benefits. Benefits would be paid according to policy provisions.

  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment

    Accidental Death & Dismemberment coverage does not apply to COVID-19.

  • Long-Term Care Insurance

    A Long-Term Care claim filed by an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 would likely be payable if they meet the policy definition and are receiving covered services. If a claimant is quarantined and not receiving covered services, no benefits would likely be payable.

  • Wellness Benefit

    Tests for exposure to the novel coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 illness, are not currently covered under the Wellness Benefit. Screening tests under this benefit are encouraged for prevention of disease, not diagnosis. In addition, as test kits are currently limited, we do not want to encourage unnecessary testing. We will continue to closely monitor the legislative actions around testing, which may diminish any out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus tests.

  • Work-life balance employee assistance program (EAP)

    This service can help employees with managing anxiety about the pandemic. It can also provide guidance for management teams on issues like ensuring employee productivity or managing a remote workforce. It's included with group Long Term Disability and is available with group Life Insurance.

  • Worldwide emergency travel assistance

    When traveling, one phone call can connect employees and their family members to medical, legal and other services 24/7, and can provide custom travel support during the pandemic. It's available with group Long Term and Short Term Disability Insurance.

How will you calculate benefits for employees who are furloughed or whose work hours or earnings are reduced due to COVID-19?

Basic benefits can be calculated based on the earnings, when applicable, that the employee was receiving before any COVID-19-related change in work hours or earnings, using the policy’s definition of earnings. Premiums must have been paid on the pre-reduction earnings.

For earnings definitions with components averaged over a specified period of time (e.g., bonuses or commissions averaged over 12 months), we can prorate those components to exclude up to 90 days of any COVID-related furlough, temporary layoff or leave of absence.

This accommodation will end after 8/31/20 and we will follow our policy provisions thereafter.

Is an individual who is quarantined but not sick or diagnosed with COVID-19 considered disabled?

Probably not. Generally, we do not consider quarantined workers to be disabled unless they have a medical condition that results in restrictions and limitations that satisfy a policy’s definition of disability.

Which employers are affected by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA?)

The FFCRA chiefly affects public employers and private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Under the law, these employers are required to provide paid leave to employees impacted by the pandemic. The cost of this leave can be offset by a fully refundable tax credit. See our COVID-19 legislative updates page for more information.

If an employee receives an emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) payment mandated by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), will it affect the way Unum calculates their disability benefit payment?

FFCRA payments issued for care of a family member will not affect a disability benefit payment.

FFCRA payments issued for the employee may affect a disability benefit payment under the following conditions:

  • When specific offset language applies.

  • Where there is no specific offset language, there will be no impact on the payment.

If an employee receives a payment mandated by a state disability/sick leave law or state paid family leave law, will it affect their Unum STD/LTD payments?

If the payment is issued for care of a family member, it will not affect a disability benefit payment.

If the payment is issued for the employee, it may affect a disability benefit payment under the following conditions:

  • When specific offset language applies.

  • Where there is no specific offset language, there will be no impact on the payment.

How long can a terminated employee access the Employee Assistance Program?

EAP services typically extend for 30 days after an employee’s termination date. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, terminated employees can access the EAP program 90 days post-termination.

Leave and ADA questions

Updated 5/20/20

Are sick or quarantined employees entitled to FMLA protection?

Under the original Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), quarantined employees are generally not entitled to job-protected leave unless they meet the definition of a serious health condition. However, if a serious health condition develops, FMLA might apply. This remains true for employees working for employers with 500 employees or more.

However, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which went into effect April 1, temporarily expands FMLA like this:

  • Employees can be eligible for job-protected and paid leave if, due to this public health emergency, they are unable to work or telework and must care for their child under 18 because the child’s school or childcare facility is closed, or their childcare provider is unavailable.

  • The expansion applies to all private employers with fewer than 500 employees and most public employers.

  • Employees must have worked for their employer for at least 30 days to be eligible.

  • This expansion applies through December 31, 2020.

If we are administering your leave program, we would also consider applicable state leave laws and corporate leave policies in determining whether the employee is entitled to leave.

For more information on laws passed to deal with the pandemic, see our COVID-19 legislative updates page.

Should we update our leave policies to address COVID-19? Is Unum administering leave any differently?

 

We recommend that employers refrain from changing their existing plan, to ensure all employees and conditions continue to be handled consistently.

 

We will manage paid or unpaid corporate leave policies related to COVID-19 if the employee or family member has a serious health condition. We will not manage paid or unpaid corporate leave policies for COVID-19-related absences that are not related to a serious health condition.

Unum manages Americans with Disability Act (ADA) services for our company. What actions will you take if an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19?

If a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, ADA Services will request and evaluate medical information to determine if the severity of illness rises to the level of disability under ADA or any equivalent state laws. Individuals who are quarantined without a diagnosis and not sick generally would not be considered disabled. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published guidance for employers on specific workplace practices and inquiries related to COVID-19.

How is Unum responding to updated guidance from the EEOC on ADA accommodations and COVID-19 risk?

April 9 EEOC guidance expands the right of individuals at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 to request ADA accommodations to lower the risk of contracting the disease. We have incorporated the expanded “high risk” definitions into our service and put a work flow in place to handle these requests and ensure compliance.

Operational readiness questions

Updated 4/10/20

Are you seeing an increase in claims and leave requests? What are you doing to meet any increased volume?

Here are just a few of the steps we’re taking to address our customers’ needs:

People

  • We established a dedicated team to process leaves related to the FMLA expansion program.

  • We are engaging with our employees to ensure they are taken care of so they can take care of our customers.

  • We continue to monitor customer satisfaction and service levels to ensure best-in-class service delivery.

  • We are redoubling our volume forecasting and capacity management to identify and deploy additional team members to areas with expected volume increases.

Process

  • We are streamlining and simplifying our internal processes where possible to aid our ability to maintain quality and deliver timely decisions as we navigate this ever-changing environment.

Technology

  • We are continuing to focus on enhancing the web and mobile experience for our customers — something that is even more critical today as a result of social distancing.

We’re in this together and we ask for your understanding as we focus on delivering benefits to your employees as rapidly as possible. Please remember to encourage your employees to submit claims through our website, which will help them get assistance quickly.

Legislative impact questions

Updated 5/20/20

We continue to monitor developments in state and federal legislation and will adjust our approach as needed. The most up-to-date information is included on our legislative updates page.

How does new federal guidance on ERISA-plan deadlines affect my coverage with Unum?

Effective May 4, 2020, the federal government extended the deadlines for individuals to file claims and appeals of adverse determinations for certain benefit plans governed by ERISA.

According to the new guidance, claim administrators should extend filing deadlines by disregarding days during the COVID-19 “outbreak period.” The outbreak period begins March 1, 2020 and ends 60 days after the COVID-19 national emergency end date, or possible alternate dates depending on regional variances, none of which have been announced yet.

These guidelines apply to Unum Life, Accident, Long Term Care and Disability plans governed by ERISA. Our claims administrators will be following this new guidance where applicable.

My business has under 500 employees. How can the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) help me and my employees during this pandemic?

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, authorizes the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make loans to help small businesses pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The loans can be used to pay for payroll costs, including benefits, and certain other costs of protecting business operations. If the funds borrowed are used for payroll costs, including benefits, the loans will be forgiven. Other provisions also apply.

After the initial application period, which began April 3, 2020, the $349 billion originally authorized for this program was quickly exhausted. In response, Congress authorized an additional $310 billion, and the SBA resumed accepting applications from participating lenders on April 27, 2020. Demand for these loans is still expected to outstrip the funding, so employers are encouraged to apply promptly. For more information, see this guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Which employers are affected by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?

The FFCRA chiefly affects public employers and private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Under the law, these employers are required to provide paid leave to employees impacted by the pandemic. The cost of this leave can be offset by a fully refundable tax credit. See our COVID-19 legislative updates page for more information.

Will Unum administer the new Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act?

Like other paid sick leave laws, the administration of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act will not fall under Unum’s standard services.