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Insurance companies exist under the premise that they provide people who purchase their policies with peace of mind. Depending on what — or who — the policyholder insured, should anything happen, the insurance company promises to come to the rescue and foot the bill. However, the more insurance companies pay out to policyholders, the less profit they make. Because of this, insurance companies try to deny claims whenever they can.

The good news is that when an insurance company denies your claim, does not honor your policy’s provisions or attempts to lowball you, you can appeal these decisions. You may also pursue litigation options. An experienced insurance lawyer can review your case to better determine what your next step should be.

What Is Insurance Law?

There are federal and state laws in America that govern how insurance companies can interact with their customers. These are some of the many things insurance laws can cover:

  • How insurance companies determine eligibility for coverage
  • Procedure for canceling policies without the policyholder’s consent
  • The max premiums insurance companies can charge
  • Minimum or basic coverage offerings
  • Mandatory policy inclusions
  • Minimum qualifications of people selling insurance

There are many federal insurance programs, such as Medicaid, but insurance lawyers mostly handle claims against private insurers. Insurance lawyers are often also known as bad faith lawyers, because they commonly handle bad faith claims. These lawyers can represent either insurance companies or policyholders and beneficiaries. Some law firms take on both types of cases.

What Is Good Faith or Bad Faith?

Good faith is one of the founding principles of the insurance industry. It applies to both customers and insurance companies. Good faith requires both parties to be honest with each other when engaging in transactions and asks both parties to work together to fulfill the requirements of the insurance contract. Because of this, both insurance companies and policyholders can face accusations of bad faith, which can lead to litigation with a lawyer.

Say, for instance, that a man discovers he has a heart condition that could result in sudden death. The person decides to shop around for insurance and then realizes that insurance is much cheaper if he does not list the pre-existing heart condition. The man cannot afford the other premiums and decides to take a chance on not listing the condition.

After 10 years of faithfully making all premium payments in full and on time, the man passes away from the heart condition. Beneficiaries pursue their claims with the insurance company, but it refuses to pay. The beneficiaries accuse the insurance company of bad faith, because it failed to honor its agreement.

The insurance company then provides proof that the policyholder knew of his medical condition but did not include it on the paperwork. It, therefore, reserves the right not to pay out the benefits because the policyholder failed to uphold his good faith responsibilities. This is an unfortunate situation, but it does happen fairly often.

What Types of Insurance Require Lawyers?

You can work with a lawyer for all types of insurance, though not all of them might refer to themselves as insurance lawyers. For instance, a lawyer can help you appeal a Social Security Disability Insurance denial. These attorneys generally focus on cases related only to government benefits and may call themselves “disability attorneys.”

These are the types of private cases conventional insurance lawyers tend to tackle:

  • Homeowner’s and renter’s insurance
  • Health and dental insurance
  • Business or commercial insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Car insurance
  • Workers’ compensation

How Should I Handle My Insurance Law Case?

Insurance lawyers primarily assist with negotiating settlements and fighting denials. The procedures for both of these differ based on the type of insurance claim you are fighting against. For instance, how an attorney handles a car crash case is much different from how another takes on a workers’ compensation denial claim. The appropriate advice also depends on whether you are an insurer or the insured.

There are a few basic steps that can apply to any type of case if you are the insured party. Still, only an experienced, local attorney can give you specific advice.

1. Seek Medical Attention

Most insurance cases follow some type of injury or damage. If you suffered injuries related to the claim, tend to them as soon as possible. You may also need medical records as proof of why you need the insurance company to honor the policy or pay out a particular settlement.

2. Collect Evidence

All types of insurance law cases require evidence. You may need to present this to a responsible or at-fault party, the insurance company, the court or even a police officer. Here are common pieces of evidence a lawyer would want you to have that apply to most types of insurance cases:

  • Insurance policy contract
  • Photographs
  • Insurance policy amendments
  • Video footage
  • Insurance policy change requests
  • Medical records

3. File a Claim

An attorney can assist you with filing a claim. If a negotiation process follows, it is almost always best to have an attorney negotiate on your behalf. Insurance companies tend to take claims more seriously when they know a professional is on the case. Should they still continue to stall, low-ball or deny the claims, attorneys can assist with appealing and potentially filing suits.

Do I Need To Work With an Experienced Local Insurance Lawyer?

There are many lawyers who refuse to go up against insurance companies and other big corporations. Insurance companies tend to walk into courtrooms with guns blazing, because they have the resources to do so. This makes these cases much more complex. If even many attorneys refuse to take these cases, then civilians would be wise not to attempt to take them on alone, either.

Many customers take this advice to heart and attempt to find city lawyers hundreds of miles away from their homes. However, you can find a qualified local lawyer wherever you are. If you are injured, it is even more important to work with a law office close enough for staff to visit you at home or in the hospital.

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