Suppose you are appealing the denial of your insurance benefits. In that case, there is a greater chance that you will end up in litigation with the insurance company. That is simply a fact. Of course, a well-presented appeal makes litigation less likely, but it still happens. After all, it is difficult to convince an insurance company that its denial was wrong and that it needs to pay your claim.
When faced with appealing the denial of your insurance claim, you can do the appeal yourself, hire an attorney, or hire a non-attorney advocate.
Each has advantages and disadvantages. However, a recent deposition experience highlighted three advantages to hiring an attorney during the appeal process that do not present themselves until litigation.
What was that experience? Before hiring Kantor and Kantor, our client hired a non-attorney advocate to appeal the denial of their life insurance claim. The appeal was not successful. Since the non-attorney advocate was just that, not an attorney, they needed an attorney if they wanted to continue to pursue the claim. That is when Kantor and Kantor got involved.
Kantor and Kantor filed a lawsuit, and discovery commenced. Part of the discovery conducted by the insurance company was taking the deposition of the non-attorney advocate. During the deposition, the non-attorney advocate went out of their way to say the client’s claim had no merit and that our client had lied to them. Our client had not lied to them.
What the non-attorney advocate was doing was defending themselves at the expense of the client. Moreover, the non-attorney “conveniently” had lost all of the documentation that might have supported our client’s claim.
Three things became apparent, unlike an attorney, a non-attorney advocate does not (1) owe the client a continuing duty of loyalty, (2) have the ability to assert attorney-client and work product privileges, and (3) have a duty to maintain records.
While this situation may be the exception that proves the rule, these three items can become necessary if your appeal is not successful and litigation ensues. It is easy to understand the importance of a continuing duty of loyalty. After all, an attorney will not testify that your claim should not be paid.
Having open and frank conversations during your appeal without fear that those conversations will be used against you during litigation may not cross your mind. You also may not think about being called a liar at some point in the future when your interests and your advocate’s interests may diverge. However, without the ability to assert your attorney-client privilege, this can happen. And only attorneys carry this privilege.
Similarly, it seems evident that your records will be maintained, but a non-attorney has no obligation to do that. An attorney does. So, if it is crucial to have a record of your appeal, having hired an attorney to handle your appeal provides you with that extra protection.
These advantages certainly do not come up in every case. However, the future is not known. Suppose you are thinking about whether to hire an attorney or a non-attorney advocate to help you appeal the denial of your insurance claim. In that case, these three items should be part of your decision-making process.
Our law firm provides free consultations. If you are involved in an insurance dispute over a claim, that is the best time to contact an insurance attorney and learn if you have a case. Call our law firm today or fill out this contact form and one of our team members will be glad to speak with you.