From claimant to customer advocate: Some things are just meant to be

From claimant to customer advocate: Some things are just meant to be

Work Wisdom

From claimant to customer advocate: Some things are just meant to be

When the words “meant to be” come to mind, you might think about how you met someone special or landed the perfect job. For James Goggins, a benefits specialist at Unum who handles Individual Disability claims, it’s been a bit of both.

In 2008, James’s aunt was in the Moffitt Cancer Center fighting for her life. Diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, it was an uphill battle

Fortuntely, Jame’s aunt had Unum disability insurance which he believes “quite literally helped save her life.” The critical and timely support Unum provided made a lasting impression and inspired James to join the company in 2020. Six months later, James was in a severe skiing accident and had 30 fractured bones. He then found himself out on Short Term Disability (STD).

That STD experience, coupled with what his aunt had gone through, gave James new insights and inspiration for his work as a benefits specialist. Tabitha Oppenheimer was one of the first Unum customers James would help upon his return from STD leave. 

Tabitha Oppenheimer
Unum customer Tabitha Oppenheimer

Tabitha was on her final rotation of pharmacy school when she discovered a lump in her breast. She didn’t know how she was going to finish her rotation or even graduate.  Fortunately, she did graduate but she had to put her full-time career on hold to start treatment. She filed an Individual Disability Insurance (IDI) claim to help her financially and allow her to focus on getting better.  

“I was just back from leave, so I was apprehensive about a claim for such a serious illness right off the bat,” James explained. “When I saw Tabitha diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27, I thought about my aunt and younger sisters. Then I learned she received treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center and I knew I was supposed to be her benefits specialist.”

While handling Tabitha’s IDI claim was special, he says he tackles each claim with the same mentality: to make the customer’s life easier so they can focus on getting better.

“Every time I talked with James, it wasn’t just to accomplish a task or to submit a form,” explains Tabitha. “He was always very personable and concerned about me, in general. He always reassured me that I was going to get through this, and that we’d figure it out together. He was amazing.”

James gathered all the necessary paperwork and medical records quickly, so Tabitha could receive benefits while she took leave from full-time pharmacy work.    

“I can’t speak highly enough about disability insurance,” said Tabitha. “My benefits allowed me to stay afloat. I was able to pay bills, even some of my student loan debt.”

After chemotherapy and two successful surgeries, Tabitha’s scans are clear today and, with her recovery, is no longer receiving disability benefits. But she continues to pay for her policy. “It can’t hurt, and I might need it as a back-up in case something happens again,” she said.

“I do what I do because I love helping others,” said James. “I thoroughly enjoy interacting with customers and I look forward to helping them. Sure, it’s my job, but there’s something more to it. It’s the feeling you’re doing something really good for a customer by delivering superior service in a difficult time in their lives.”

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