What to do if your disability insurance company refuses to pay a claim?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Dec 29, 2019

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If your insurer refuse to pay your claim, or pays too little, your first step, as the insured, is to immediately review the policy, plan or evidence of coverage document relating to claim or benefit denial, appeal or grievance procedures. 

Most often, there is a requirement that the insured appeal a denial of a benefit or service with a written appeal within a period as short as 15 to 60 days. In addition, there are typically multiple levels of appeal or grievance, which are mandatory and which involve subsequent short time limits. Appeal or grievance procedures, depending on the policy or plan, either require that final determinations of entitlement to benefits or services be made by required arbitration, or they allow the insured or member to file a lawsuit, but only after exhausting the appeal or grievance procedures set forth in the policy or plan. 

While legal assistance from an attorney is not necessarily required at the initial levels of appeal, it is strongly urged as soon as possible if the amount involved is large, or the insurer is denying that you are “disabled” under the terms of the contract or the matter is going to arbitration or lawsuit. Rest assured that the insurer or plan will almost certainly be represented by an attorney, and s/he or he will be out to have your claim denied.

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