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Injured police officer applied for nearly 250 jobs after insurer said he could be a librarian

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After being diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, former police officer Adam Watts applied for 250 jobs after his workers compensation insurer told him he could get a job as a librarian.

He is still unemployed five years after being medically discharged for the NSW Police Force and after his insurer assessed him as “employable”.

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Former police officer Adam Watts details the lengths his insurance company went to deny him his workers compensation after being medically discharged from the force.

“I applied for nearly 250 jobs and it is impossible to get a job,” he said.

Metlife Insurance rejected his claim for total and permanent disablement. A psychiatrist for the insurance company considered Mr Watts was not fit to return to the police force, but could be suitable for clerical or librarian work.

Former police officer Adam Watts has applied for 250 jobs after leaving the police force. Former police officer Adam Watts has applied for 250 jobs after leaving the police force. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Mr Watts, 47, said he had no qualifications to apply for a job as a librarian and has applied for hundreds of jobs in areas the insurance company doctors and vocational counsellors recommended for his employment.

They included jobs as a private investigator, compliance manager and security consultant.

“They send you to cash for comment doctors who make reports on you who say you can be a librarian. I don’t have any qualifications in librarianship or any skills or practical experience as a librarian,” Mr Watts said.

Mr Watts said he spent half an hour to an hour being assessed by insurance company doctors. But the insurer had ignored the opinions of his own doctors who had been seeing him for 10 years.

Former police officer, Adam Watts. Former police officer, Adam Watts. Photo: Louise Kennerley

“My doctors have been saying if Mr Watts gets well he may be able to pursue something but he is not well or it is unsure if he will ever get better,” he said. “But their doctors say, well, Mr Watts can be a librarian or do clerical work.

“I could apply to be a brain surgeon, but who is going to take me on. They don’t market test or speak to employment agencies and say would you take this person on.”

Fairfax Media has seen copies of rejection letters to Mr Watts from organisations including Aldi, Bunnings, Toll, Silverwater Jail, the Australian Turf Club, Ranstad, the Land and Housing Corporation, NSW Department of Education, Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, NSW Police Force, Australian Securities and Investments Commission,  NSW Department of Finance, Fire and Rescue NSW, Department of Family and Community Services and Legal Aid NSW.

As a young police officer one of his first jobs was discovering a young man who had gassed himself in his car. He also watched many autopsies and examined dead bodies, including babies.

After years of working a high-pressure environment, he started having flashbacks, nightmares and high levels of anxiety.

“I’d walk into work and I’d be perspiring and my heart would be pounding at massive rates. I started having high blood pressure,” he said.

“I knew I wasn’t well. I realised if I put my hand up and said I’m not well that would be the end of my career so I tried struggle on. It was all the years of policing.”

Mr Watts said it has been a constant battle trying to prove his injury and battling with the Metlife insurance company which had put him, his wife and three children under surveillance.

“It took them nearly four years to decide on my claim,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Metlife said it was not able to discuss the specifics of individual cases. 

“However, we can confirm that we did receive a claim with respect to Mr Watts. The claim decision was reviewed by both an internal panel, as well as an external independent Claims Review Committee, and the decision to decline the claim was upheld at each review,” the spokeswoman said.

“In Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) claims, the insurer’s role is not to diagnose physical or psychological conditions. Instead, it is to determine whether a claimant is unable to ever work again in any suitable occupation.”

The spokeswoman said surveillance is rarely used and only when there are inconsistencies in the information received during the assessment process.

“MetLife no longer uses surveillance in the assessment of claims related to mental illness,” she said.

A spokesman for NSW Police said MetLife is no longer contracted as an insurer of NSW police officers. “First State Super should be contacted to discuss any concerns pertaining to any claim that is managed by Metlife Insurance,” she said.

A letter from First Sate Super to Mr Watts sent in May last year says that Metlife had declined his claim because he has “not satisfied the criteria for TPD [Total and Permanent Disablement]”.

“As you will appreciate, a number of medical reports and opinions have been provided in the course of assessing your claim, and often it is the weight of all the evidence that determines claims of this nature.”

NSW Police Minister Troy Grant declined to comment.

Do you know more? Contact Anna Patty: apatty@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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