When it comes to filing insurance claims, it’s hard to know how things will play out, despite the seemingly clear terms of your policy and how valid you believe your claim is. With regards to disability claims in particular, it seems that insurance companies have recently been denying some perfectly valid claims on unfair and sometimes unintelligible grounds.
In December, two lawsuits were filed
against insurance companies in West Virginia following alleged bad faith practices. In one case, a man claimed that he was unfairly cut off from receiving disability payments approximately ten years earlier. In the other case, an insurance company was sued on behalf of a student who broke his ankle while playing basketball with a pre-existing injury. A few months later on the other side of the country, a woman in San Francisco was awarded $873,532 when it was determined that her insurance company had acted in bad faith by denying her claim – despite clear supporting evidence – that she was unfit to work.
Why the Sudden Increase in Bad Faith Insurance Lawsuits?
The examples given above are only three of many reported across the country. Why is it that insurance companies are clinging so tightly to their wallets lately? Is it just your average big-business stinginess? Or is there something bigger at play? It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly these denials are coming from, or why they seem to be occurring so frequently lately, but instances of bad faith lawsuits certainly do seem to be increasing in the past few years, at least in certain parts of the country.
The good news, though, is that the story doesn’t have to end with an insurance company’s refusal to pay. If you have a valid, lawful claim that has been unjustly denied, it is a good idea to speak to a lawyer to determine whether or not action can be taken.
What You Need to Know
In the wake of so many people having their rightful requests ignored, the most important thing to bear in mind is, a denied claim from your insurance company does not mean that hope is lost. In plenty of situations where a claim was denied, the claimant read up on his or her rights, hired a lawyer, and wound up making a successful appeal.
If you decide to make an appeal following your denied disability claim, there are some important steps you should take:
- First, make sure you understand your policy. Obtain a copy of the policy either from your insurer or from your company’s HR department. Keep multiple copies of the policy and make sure you have read and understand it completely.
- Similarly, review and understand the denial letter sent to you by your insurance company. Be sure to make note of any deadlines mentioned in the letter—if deadlines are given, you don’t want to miss them.
- Speak to an attorney. Whether or not you end up hiring one, it’s always a good idea to speak to an experienced professional when dealing with matters like this.
If you know your rights and believe in the lawfulness of your claim, you probably have a good chance for a successful appeal. When dealing with an insurance company that acted in bad faith, it is extremely important to talk to an experienced lawyer. A qualified lawyer will be able to inform you, support you, and bring you the justice you seek.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Lawlor Winston White & Murphy. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”