What is an Insurance Lawyer?
An insurance lawyer specializes in insurance of all types and the laws that govern insurance. Some work with insurance companies, ensuring they comply with regulations and laws or defending against claims from policy holders.
Insurance lawyers also represent policy holders and help people make claims and get the money they deserve. They help resolve and settle disputes between policy holders and insurance companies.
Because most of the regulation of insurance is at the state level, insurance lawyers are also experts in state laws and procedures. They understand how the industry works in the state in which they operate and are uniquely able to help residents.
When Do I Need to Hire an Insurance Lawyer?
As an individual, you may need to hire an insurance lawyer when dealing with an insurance company. You may need an insurance lawyer in a few different situations:
- You have a policy and need to make a claim or appeal a denial of a claim.
- You are trying to buy insurance and are being unfairly denied a policy or a reasonable rate.
- You have been involved in an incident with a third party and need to make a claim with their insurance company.
Buying insurance and making claims are often straightforward processes. When you have a complication, you may need to rely on a lawyer to sort it out. Some examples include:
- The insurance company, either yours or that of a third party, denied your claim in error.
- Your insurer is refusing to cover something you believe is in your policy.
- The insurance company offered you less than you think you deserve.
- You have a claim that involves a lot of money or extensive and complicated circumstances.
- Fault is difficult to establish in your claim.
- A life insurance policy isn’t paying out after a loved one’s death.
- You feel that an insurance company has unfairly denied you a policy or a fair rate, for instance, based on discrimination.
- You are buying insurance but have complicating factors and need advice on coverage, policies, and contracts.
- A third party is claiming your insurance policy, but you don’t think they have a case to do so.
What Can an Insurance Lawyer Do for Me?
The insurance laws in your state are designed to protect you, the consumer. The industry is regulated to make sure companies act in good faith, offer fair pricing, and don’t unfairly discriminate. You can work with an insurance company without a lawyer to represent or advise you, but it’s easy to get in over your head with an insurer’s legal team.
There are several things an insurance lawyer can do for you and reasons to have this advocate on your side in all insurance matters:
- Provide expert investigation
Insurance disputes often require evidence. For instance, you need proof the company discriminated against you unfairly or that you didn’t disqualify yourself for a claim through negligence in an injury or car accident. An insurance lawyer has the resources and experience to investigate and gather the needed evidence to make your case.
- Face insurance company lawyers
You can bet that the insurance company you’re in a dispute with has a high-powered legal team. Insurers want to pay as little as possible for claims, if anything, and going up against these pros is intimidating and difficult. A lawyer can do it on your behalf.
- Get your claim sooner
You may be able to get what you’re owed eventually, but a lawyer knows how to expedite the process.
- Get a better outcome
If you have a lawyer working with you from the beginning of a claim or a dispute, you have a better chance of getting the outcome you want. You are also likely to get more compensation. Having a lawyer shows the insurer you are serious and cannot be bought off with a quick but low offer.
- Appeal a denial
If an insurance company has completely denied your claim, there is no simple appeals process. You’ll need a lawyer to investigate the incident, negotiate with the insurance company, and, if necessary, start a lawsuit.
Hiring an Insurance Lawyer
When hiring an insurance lawyer, be sure you look at firms and attorneys who represent policy holders, not the insurance company. You need someone with experience working with individuals in disputes with insurers.
Talk to friends and family to get references. Someone you know may have been in a similar situation and have a lawyer they trust. You can also check with your state bar association or simply search for an insurance lawyer. You may also want to ask someone you know who works in insurance. They have likely come up against good lawyers representing policy holders.
Once you have a list of potential lawyers to hire, request a free consultation with each. You should be able to ask important questions before choosing:
- How long have you been in insurance law?
- How much of your practice is devoted to insurance law?
- Do you only or mostly help policy holders?
- Can you provide references from past clients?
- How would you handle my case?
- Do you think I can get a good outcome?
- Do you work on a contingency basis?
Working with Your Insurance Lawyer
To get the best outcome, you need a good lawyer, but you also need to be a good client. Provide your lawyer with all the information they need to make your case. Don’t hold back or lie about anything. They can only help you if they know everything, even if you think it incriminates you.
Also important is asking questions and demanding to stay informed. A good lawyer wants to keep you up to date so you can make informed decisions about your own case. Be on time for meetings and be easy to contact so they can do their job.
Working with an insurance lawyer is an important way to take on the insurance industry successfully. If you have a dispute with your insurer, a good lawyer is your best advocate and ally.