Having a life insurance claim denied can leave you feeling frustrated and angry. After a denial, it might be time to hire a lawyer to help you with your claim.
The Job of a Claims Lawyer
Many attorneys specialize in helping individuals obtain life insurance settlements for which they've previously been denied. These attorneys help clients:
- Complete claims paperwork as required
- Submit the new paperwork to the appropriate department at the insurance company
- File any additionally required paperwork
- Answer any questions or inquiries the company submits
Their goal is to help their clients obtain the settlements to which they are entitled, and many do not charge a fee for their services unless they are successful in their efforts on a client's behalf.
It is rare for a lawyer to specialize in life insurance claims. However, many attorneys do practice in the field of insurance, which may include filing for claims.
How to Find a Claims Lawyer
The first place to begin searching for a claims lawyer is your state's bar association website. Most state bar associations operate websites that allow users to search for local lawyers that practice in the area of insurance claims or specialize in the area of insurance.
Some bar associations allow you to search for a lawyer that can practice in both federal and state court. For example:
- Florida Bar Association: This state bar association's website allows users to engage in an expanded search to find lawyers in the state that practice insurance law and are permitted to practice in federal and state courts.
- Maryland State Bar Association: Users of this website can search for a lawyer in the state who practices insurance law.
- The Iowa State Bar Association: The advanced search option on this website allows users to search for a lawyer who practices insurance law.
- State Bar of Texas: in addition to location and types of practice, this state's bar association website allows users to search by certifications and law school the lawyer attended.
To be a member of a bar association, most states require lawyers to have passed a bar exam and meet licensure requirements. Therefore, a lawyer you find on these websites will likely be licensed. These websites also usually tell you whether a lawyer has had any disciplinary action taken against them in the past, which may affect your decision to contact a specific lawyer.
Choosing and Meeting with a Lawyer
When choosing a lawyer, in addition to having a good record with no disciplinary history, look for a lawyer with numerous years of experience practicing in insurance law. Select a few lawyers to interview; most don't charge a fee for an initial consultation. Meeting with several lawyers and obtaining their preliminary opinions about your case will help you choose the lawyer with whom you are most comfortable.
When interviewing these lawyers, inquire into:
- How many insurance claims they've handled and how many have been successful
- The companies they've pursued claims against in the past on behalf of clients
- How many insurance claims they've litigated in state and federal courts
- The lawyer's normal process for handling claims they agree to undertake
- The length of time the normal claims process takes
- Their fee structure and when payments are due
- Whether you can speak with former clients
Lawyer Referral Agencies
Lawyer referral services connect clients seeking a lawyer to help them with an insurance claim with lawyers who practice or specialize in this area. Usually, these agencies are private, and are paid by the lawyers in their systems for referrals.
Although not all agencies are unreliable, they do not run background checks or otherwise investigate the lawyers to whom they refer clients. Therefore, always check into any lawyer's background with your local bar association prior to meeting with him or her about your claim.
Working with a Lawyer
Having a lawyer help you with your life insurance claim after being denied requires that you and the lawyer be open and honest. Select a lawyer with whom you think you can have a good working relationship for a lengthy period of time since some claims may take several months to manage.