If you are reading this blog post, you are most likely searching for an experienced, highly skilled attorney to handle your delayed or denied insurance claim. Perhaps you recently received a life (or other) insurance denial, are concerned that you are going to be denied, or as quite often happens, are being ignored or given an endless run-a-round by an insurance company.
Since the majority of The DiGeorge Life Insurance Law Firm practice is dedicated to representing beneficiaries of life insurance claims and property claims, like those stemming from Hurricane Sandy, this blog will offer a few notes of caution when seeking an insurance attorney.
The first step is to make sure that any attorney you consider is actually licensed to practice in your state or otherwise allowed to handle your case. In this Internet era, many lawyers and firms pay handsome fees to Google to advertise nationally on the web. Even though “so and so’s” legal ad pops up when you do your web search for an insurance lawyer, it does not mean that the lawyer (or any lawyer, if it is a firm) is able to file a law suit in YOUR state.
Lawyers and law firms are required to be clear on all forms of advertising, including on their web sites, as to what states they are able to practice in. If you can’t easily find that information when looking at an attorney’s web site, consider it a red flag. This is not to say an attorney can never practice in a jurisdiction outside of his or her own, on a case-by-case basis; however, your attorney must be open and honest about certain jurisdictional limitations, and knowledgeable of the rules of your state.
So, step one is to confirm where any lawyer you contact is licensed to practice law. If the attorney you contact is not licensed in your state, make sure you ask for an explanation as to what exception allows them to take your case.
Also, You should always ask the attorney if they will be willing and able to file suit in your state if necessary. Filing a law suit against an insurance company is a big deal, and this is where the rubber meets the road for many lawyers. Although clearly not ethical, it can nevertheless be tempting for an out-of-state lawyer to take on a case that they really shouldn’t handle to see if they can get a quick settlement on your behalf. An out-of-state lawyer who fields your call might conclude that you have a decent case, so they will agree to represent you. They will write a nasty letter to the insurance company demanding payment and then sit back to see what happens.
Thus, my second piece of advice is that even if the attorney in question is licensed in your state or is otherwise allowed to represent you, make sure that the attorney you hire has a track record of success against the insurance companies. When push comes to shove, you need to have legal representation with sharp teeth because the insurance companies aren’t stupid, and neither are their lawyers. You must have counsel that can and will litigate when the circumstances call for it.
The Internet is a double-edged sword. It allows us tremendous access to useful and valuable information, but it can also be difficult (if not impossible) to sort through the available information. We don’t always know enough to ask the right questions. While just about everyone has a relationship with or at least knows a lawyer in their circle, most lawyers know little or nothing about insurance law. This means that for a highly specialized field like life insurance law, the Internet can be a great way, and quite possibly the only way, to find an attorney qualified to handle your case. On the other hand, once you start searching the web, you are going to be bombarded by lots of ads and law firm web sites directing you to the “world’s greatest life insurance attorney” or other bold claims.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to get the right advocate in your corner. Every insurance contract is different. Every state has different laws. Insurance practice is definitely not a “one size fits all” kind of thing. Your goal has to be to hire the best lawyer or firm possible. If an insurance company knows that your lawyer doesn’t litigate his or her cases (and they will know), it is very unlikely to pay regardless of how strong your facts may be. Insurance companies live by the motto “a dollar saved is a dollar earned.” These are often very tricky cases that could easily go one way or the other. There is no question that picking the right legal representation is often the only difference between winning and losing. My final word of advice is to make sure that you speak to at least two or three different insurance attorneys before making such an important decision.
The DiGeorge Life Insurance Law Firm can answer your questions and help guide you through the process of filing a successful insurance claim. We are here to help, so please email or call us any time @ 800-210-5397.