The second article on disability insurance law in our series for Dentist’s Money Digest explores the issues facing dentists who... Read more →
Bad Faith Insurance Lawsuits and Disability Insurance
Disability insurance companies hate the phrase “bad faith” when it comes to denying disability benefits claims.
They position themselves during the selling cycle as the kind and benevolent institution that can be trusted and relied upon to protect policyholders and their families during a time in the future that we all hope will never arrive – a time when we are injured or ill and can no longer perform the tasks of our profession. That façade drops away pretty quickly when claims are denied or delayed and a long and frustrating, never-ending series of bad events begin to take place.
When a policyholder cannot work and files a claim, they have placed their trust and faith in the disability insurance company’s promise of financial protection. The disability benefits are vital to ensuring that the family does not lose their home, that their quality of life can remain somewhat at the same level, and that the stresses and financial strains of not being able to work do not place an additional burden on an individual and a family already adjusting to the illness or injury.
A claim of bad faith in a disability lawsuit is different than other bad faith insurance claims. In matters concerning health, life or property insurance, a bad faith claim means that additional penalties can be assessed in a judgment against the insurance company. Unfortunately, in a disability insurance lawsuit, there are often no additional penalties for the insurance company, regardless of whether an individual feels that they were sold the policy in bad faith.
A bad faith denial of disability benefits is usually part of a systematic approach by the insurance company to deny or delay claims for the simple reason that they do not lose anything by denying the claim, even if a lawsuit later overturns the denial. The only cost to the insurance company is that they have to pay back the benefits that were to have been paid in the first place, potentially with interest and potentially for the insureds’ legal fees. The insurance company usually has a team of lawyers that work in an in-house department, or a law firm that they hire to handle claim denials. Their defense costs are relatively low.
Frankel & Newfield works with the insurance companies’ in-house and retained counsel every day of the week. We know their strengths, weaknesses, and strategies, and this experience gives us a distinct advantage over attorneys who do not practice in the disability insurance arena on a daily basis. The insurance companies’ lawyers know us also – and they know that we vigorously and aggressively represent our clients. If you believe that your claim has been denied in bad faith, call us today. You are not in this alone – we can help.