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from our blog


August 26, 2014

Better Health Care Provided to AZ Workers

Recent reports indicate Arizona is one of the best employers concerning employee health benefits to workers. Workers in Arizona pay a smaller share of their overall bill compared to the majority of state workers anywhere else in the country. According to analysts, Arizona regularly conducts surveys to compare their benefits on the national stage. The […]

 

Arizona Disability Insurance Dispute Attorney

Wherever you are in Arizona, if your disability insurance claim was delayed, denied, handled unfairly or in an unsatisfactory way, the Law Offices of Shane L. Harward are on your side. Our offices are in Phoenix and Scottsdale, but we have helped clients throughout the state of Arizona. No matter where you are, if you are being treated unfairly by an insurance company, we can help you obtain fair compensation and justice.

 When Shopping for Disability Insurance Ask Questions

Statistics show that 3 in 10 workers will become disabled at some point, for some period of time, prior to retirement.  There are few things more scary than the prospect of losing a job and its income because of a disabling injury or illness. There are various options for buying disability insurance as an individual or through a group, such as an employer or trade association, and there are a range of disability insurance options to consider. If you had the foresight to buy disability insurance that replaces lost income, you should expect your disability insurance company to treat your fairly. It is equally important for you to make sure you ask the right questions when shopping for disability insurance to ensure that you and your family are adequately protected.

  • Are there caps that apply to your disability benefits? These can be monthly and/or during the lifetime of the policy.
  • How does the policy define “disabled?” Is your disability policy focused on a specific profession (attorney, doctor, dentist, etc.)?  If not, most disability insurance policies define “disabled” as not being able to perform “any of usual and customary duties” or “all of the material duties” of your occupation.  The distinction between Any or All is obviously important to consider.
  • Similarly, is your policy an “own-occupation” policy or an “any-occupation” disability insurance policy? Under an “own occupation” policy, for example, if you could no longer do your job as a dentist due to a disabling wrist injury, you would be entitled to benefits even if your disability would not prevent you from working as a receptionist in your office. Under an “any occupation” policy, the answer varies from state to state and policy to policy. That’s why it’s so important to ask questions (and read your policy) so that you know your rights.
  • Does the policy have a shifting definition of “disability?” Many disability insurance policies provide benefits during the first 24 months after you have become disabled, if you cannot do your pre-disability job.  After that, the disability policy only provides benefits if you cannot do ANY job at all.
  • Will your disability insurance benefits be offset (reduced) by Social Security Disability benefits or other sources of income?
  • What is your “elimination period?” Similar to a deductible in health insurance policies, most disability policies contain an “elimination period” that requires you to be disabled for a certain period of time before you can collect benefits.
  • Finally, and perhaps most important, does the disability insurance policy give too much power to the disability insurance company to decide whether or not you are disabled?

Experienced in Disability and Injury Insurance Law

Shane L. Harward knows that some insurance companies will do whatever they can to refuse, delay, or underpay on your claim. The Law Offices of Shane L. Harward focuses on insurance policy claim disputes and insurance bad faith law. We can defend you against the intimidation, frustration, and stress that the insurance company may be causing you.

If you have become ill or have been injured, you may not be able to continue in your profession. Fighting with your insurance company is not helping your situation. You thought they respected you as a policyholder. But, rather than respecting you and honoring your policy, they are making a hard situation even more difficult through:

  • Offering a “low-ball” amount far below fair value
  • Wrongfully accusing you of fraud
  • Denying your claim by arguing that you can still work in another occupation
  • Delaying an investigation with bureaucracy and stalling tactics
  • Unexpectedly denying the claim for mistakes in the policy application or for undisclosed pre-existing health conditions through post-claims underwriting practices
  • Demonstrating Insurance Agent Error/Insurance Producer Malpractice

The Basics About Filing A Disability Claim

Read your policy and review your application.

  • The definition of disability in your insurance policy will determine whether or not your condition qualifies for benefits.  You must be familiar with it.
  • Almost all disability insurance policies require that you be under continuing care by a doctor to qualify for disability benefits. Ask your treating doctor to confirm and explain your disability in writing to your disability insurance company.
  • Your disability insurance company will obtain all your medical records from both before and after the disabling event.  You must make sure that the answers in your application are consistent with your medical records. If there are inconstencies, you probably should contact a disability insurance attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. If any questions are answered incorrectly you must have a good explanation. If there is an inconsistency between your application and your medical history as reflected in your doctor’s records, it is often because you misunderstood a question on an application, or, your agent told you the insurance company was not interested in minor problems, or, you did not know, at the time you filled out or signed to the truth of your answers that you had a condition that would have required a different answer. You must be prepared to explain any inconsistency no matter how minor you believe it is.

Even if you have not yet retained a disability insurance attorney, you should file your disability insurance claim as soon as possible.

The insurance company has the right to know that you are currently disabled and that you will be applying for benefits. A failure to promptly submit a disability insurance claim can result in the insurance company denying your disability benefits. Don’t give the disability insurance company any excuse to do this. It doesn’t matter if you won’t be eligible for disability benefits for several months – file your insurance claim promptly upon discovering your disability.

 Confirm ALL communications with your disability insurance company in writing.

As with all insurance claims, you MUST confirm every phone call, every conversation, and every communication in writing when dealing with a disability insurance company.  It is alright, and expected, that you will speak with your disability insurance claims adjuster over the telephone, but you MUST clearly confirm those conversations in writing. (This does not mean that you must, or should, allow the insurance company to harass you with requests for information to your most confidential records, for example income tax returns, without first discussing your options with an attorney.) You will not remember the specifics of the conversation with the disability insurance company later if litigation becomes necessary and a confirmation letter will quickly let the disability insurance company know if there has been any misunderstanding.  Send the confirmation letters via certified mail return receipt requested or through facsimile with a confirmation report – do not allow the disability insurance company to claim that it never received the confirmation letter.

Similarly, as will all insurance claims, it is a good idea to keep your own claims log or journal.  The insurance company will certainly keep a log of every phone conversation, in-person conversation, date, time, name of person spoken to, etc. If litigation becomes necessary, wouldn’t you want your own record so that you have some way to verify the validity of the insurance company’s log?

 Warnings of things to expect if you file a disability insurance claim.

Surveillance. Yes, disability insurance companies do conduct surveillance and investigation into claimants. Be aware that if you file a disability claim, you could be videotaped by the disability insurance company when you unaware. The purpose is to record you doing some activity you claim you are unable to do so that the insurance company can claim that you are committing insurance fraud. Do not give the disability insurance company an excuse to deny your claim by exaggerating your disability.

Harassment. Some disability insurance companies will attempt to wear you down so that you will accept a low-ball settlement.  Do NOT give up! You are entitled to the full benefits for which you have been paying your insurance premiums. If you paid your premiums, shouldn’t the insurance company honor its obligation to pay you the disability insurance benefits you deserve? Don’t sign anything without knowing your rights!

Unfortunately, if you fight the insurance company alone you will probably lose.

Large insurance companies are specialists in denying, delaying, and underpaying. They have armies of bureaucrats, adjusters, and attorneys aggressively finding ways to deny, delay, and underpay claims. Whether automobile insurance claims, life insurance or homeowner insurance claims, some insurance companies do all they can to keep money from their policyholders. In the case of disability and personal injury insurance policy claims, the stakes are particularly high. You need an experienced and aggressive attorney who is familiar with the strategies that insurance companies will use to keep what is rightfully yours.

Don’t fight the insurance company alone. Contact the Law Offices of Shane L. Harward for a free telephonic consultation and get the right Arizona disability insurance dispute lawyer on your side.

  • Shane Harward Law Offices of Shane L. Harward PLC

    10575 North 114th Street
    Suite 103
    Scottsdale, Arizona 85259

    Telephone 480-874-2918
    Facsimile 480-588-5063

    By Appointment Only:
    4809 East Thistle Landing Drive
    Suite 100
    Phoenix, Arizona 85044

    Telephone 602-384-4638

    Mailing Address:
    Post Office Box 12877
    Scottsdale, Arizona 85267