The best insurance lawyers are students of the insurance industry rather than just students of insurance law. I learned this truth from insurance claims expert Gary Fye and the late Eugene Anderson. Let me paraphrase what Anderson used to tell me, ‘for the same reason doctors don’t learn medicine by reading medical malpractice case law, judges and lawyers wanting to understand insurance should not expect to learn insurance by reading insurance case law.’ Amen.
So, why do so many lawyers profess to be alleged specialists in insurance law after a few years of law practice or doing some cases in a particular field of insurance? Probably because their potential clients do not know that the best insurance lawyers study at least as much about insurance operations, claims practices and what the insurance companies are teaching their own insurance adjusters as they do insurance case law.
Most newer law firms no longer have a law firm library because all the case law is available on the internet. The best insurance law firms have an extensive repository of insurance industry reference materials and books so their attorneys can access and use those in cases. At the Merlin Law Group, we not only have that library, but a law librarian whose job it is to help us track down reference materials to help us destroy the creative but clearly wrong arguments that the insurance defense attorneys make to win their cases.
I do not want to be one of those leaders in my law firm and a speaker to others that “do as I say, not as I do.” I gave a unique speech at the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters Spring Conference about “the why” being a public adjuster is so important to policyholders and the public. One topic I mentioned was the inherent requirement to be the best you can be for the people you are serving. I stressed the importance of learning and obtaining certificates showing the world the credentials of one’s depth of knowledge as a commitment to one’s self, clients, and the public.
So, I am signed up with The Institutes (link) to obtain an Associate in Claims Designation with a Property Insurance Track. After I finish that, I will start on another designation through The Institutes and hopefully end up with a CPCU Designation. Here is what the first of numerous courses to get the AIC Designation—the AIC 30—teaches:
AIC 30 Segment A Topics:
- The claim function and professional ethics
- The claim handling process
- Setting case reserves and investigating claims
AIC 30 Segment B Topics:
- Documenting claims
- Communicating effectively
- Dealing with fraud
AIC 30 Segment C Topics:
- Negotiating claims
- Litigating claims
- Good faith claim handling
Policyholders wanting to hire the best insurance lawyers should look for lawyers dedicated to knowing not just insurance law, but insurance lore and practice which can actually change insurance law and win cases otherwise unwinnable. For me, I owe it to my clients, other lawyers in my firm, and to anybody else I am trying to teach, to be the best insurance law attorney I can and that is why I try to improve everyday—and God knows it is not easy for an old dog like me to learn new tricks!
Thought For The Day
There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.