Skilled Bad Faith Insurance Attorneys Serving Clients in Alaska
Many Alaskans use individually purchased long-term disability insurance to protect themselves from potential loss of income in the event of a disabling injury or sickness. However, it’s important to realize that having a genuine disability won’t guarantee that you’ll start receiving the monthly benefits you’re entitled to.
Bad faith insurance litigation is an avenue you can explore when your private insurance company decides not to play fair after you submit a legitimate disability claim. Unfortunately, insurers frequently attempt to bend the rules to delay your monthly insurance benefits or refuse to pay altogether; if that happens to you, you’ll need an Alaska bad faith insurance lawyer on your side.
What Is Alaska Bad Faith Insurance Litigation?
When you purchase a long-term disability insurance policy, you enter into a contract with the insurance provider. Should the insurance company fail to honor an obligation contained in that contract, you may file a lawsuit against it on the grounds it acted in bad faith or unreasonably.
Insurance policies of all kinds in Alaska contain what is known as an implied duty of fair dealing and good faith. Wrongfully denying a claim or offering a claimant less than they’re entitled to will generally be a breach of that duty of good faith and fair dealing.
It’s important to note that bad faith insurance litigation is usually only possible in a disability setting with individually purchased long-term disability insurance policies. Employer-sponsored plans are governed by a piece of federal legislation known as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). This federal law sets out a mandatory administrative appeals process claimants must complete before filing a federal lawsuit, and also imposes various restrictions on the lawsuits themselves.
ERISA is a federal law, and so cases filed under are adjudicated in federal court. However, when it comes to individually purchased policies, your Alaska bad faith insurance lawyer may be able to file suit in state court if your insurer is based in Alaska as well. It is generally advantageous to bring cases to state, rather than federal, court, as it is usually cheaper and there are fewer administrative hurdles to deal with.
When Do You Become Entitled to Long-Term Disability Insurance Benefits?
Broadly speaking, there are three requirements you must meet before you become entitled to income replacement benefits from an individually purchased or employer-sponsored long-term disability insurance policy. They are as follows:
- You must visit your physician and have them verify that your illness or injury meets the definition of a disability as set out in your long-term disability insurance policy. There are two main disability definitions policies use, which are discussed below.
- Your physician must provide the most appropriate treatment for your condition.
- You must wait for the elimination period on your policy to elapse. These vary widely from one plan to the next; you should consult your policy to see exactly how long you’ll have to wait, ideally with the assistance of your long-term disability attorney.
The two broad definitions of disability insurers use in this area are known as “any occupation” and “own occupation”. Under “any occupation” terms, your condition must be severe enough to prevent you from doing the essential tasks of any occupation for which you are trained, educated, or suited by experience.
“Own occupation” terms, on the other hand, treat you as having a disability once you can no longer perform the important duties of your occupation you had prior to the onset of your symptoms. You will be entitled to monthly benefits even if you remain capable of doing some other job outside of your previous role. Certain “own occupation” policies even allow you to take up other paid work and continue receiving the full amount of monthly disability insurance benefits to which you’re entitled under your policy.
There are many other potential details your insurance contract may contain that could be of relevance here. The best way to develop a full understanding of your insurance policy benefits is to work with a specialist Alaska bad faith insurance lawyer.
Alaska Disability Statistics
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that around 21% of Alaska residents over the age of 18 (over 111,000 individuals) have a disability of some kind. Mobility-related disabilities are the most common type, affecting 9% of Alaskans, with disabilities related to cognition (8%) and hearing (7%) being the next most prevalent.
The statistics also show a high level of correlation between disability and other issues in Alaskan patients. For example, those with a disability were over three times as likely to suffer from depression as the average Alaskan.
How Our Alaska Bad Faith Insurance Lawyer Can Help You
Long-term disability insurance is a much more complex landscape than many policyholders appreciate at first glance. If your insurance company delays or denies your monthly benefits in bad faith, you can be left facing a difficult battle unless you have a top-class Alaska insurance lawyer in your corner.
Contact DarrasLaw today to schedule a free initial consultation, including a free analysis of your policy, assistance with your claim, or help with your appeal. Remember, it’s vitally important to move quickly after you receive an initial denial on an ERISA group disability claim, as you need to submit a comprehensive administrative appeal in advance of your insurance company’s strict deadline.