Quantity versus quality of ethical representation should be on the minds of all policyholders when selecting attorneys, restoration contractors, or public adjusters following a catastrophic loss. Unfortunately, it seems as if many policyholders are receiving a lot of people soliciting to provide help who are in the quantity game of helping people versus providing quality representation. “Scaling up” for more profit seems to be the mantra and on the minds of many business owners promising policyholders relief rather than providing the quality of work deserved.
An example is a Texas law firm that advertised its way into Louisiana and now has tens of thousands of clients with a handful of attorneys working on those claims. A recent article in the Claims Journal, McClenny Moseley Sanctioned by 3rd Louisiana Judge for Duplicate Filings, seems to indicate that the law firm is mired in controversy over its ethical solicitation and then treatment of those thousands of Louisiana clients.
My book, Pay Up!: Preventing A Disaster With Your Own Insurance Company, not only offers advice about the types of public adjusters and restoration contractors a policyholder should hire but also talks about the type of attorney a policyholder should look to retain:
Do not always trust advertisements for legal services. Television commercials and online ads make it very easy for anybody to market themselves as specialists in many areas. They’ll wear one hat in one advertisement as an expert and another in the next. There are many general litigators marketing themselves as property insurance attorneys (and a slew of other things) even though they work across many areas of law.
As with hiring an agent or a public adjuster, look for an attorney with the right qualifications and credentials. They should be in good standing with the state bar. They should have good references. The best lawyers are leaders in their field and command the respect of their peers. Their passion for their field of law will show in their participation in professional organizations. The best lawyers publish articles and educate others on their area of the law.
Finally, consider the lawyer as a person. The attorney-client relationship is just that—a relationship. The best insurance claims attorneys are true advocates of policyholders. This will show in how they talk to you. Do they listen? Are they respectful? Do they communicate well with you on an individual level? This is someone you may work with possibly for years. They will quarterback your whole insurance team. They should be someone you trust to represent you.
All the technology in the world is not going to replace the human component of time spent with the policyholder learning facts about the property which was damaged and the facts of the case. This concept of time with the policyholder is just as important for property insurance adjusters as it is with property insurance attorneys. I shake my head when I am told that a catastrophe adjuster only spent an hour with a policyholder suffering a total loss.
How would you like your own claim being traded for more business? Some law firms and public adjusters unethically agree to exchange their clients’ cases, so the attorney sends cases to public adjusters for appraisal in return for the public adjuster sending the attorneys cases needed for litigation. All attorneys know this is unethical treatment of their clients. All attorneys know this is unethical solicitation which could lead to disbarment. Yet, the practice goes on. Some public adjusters suggesting that I do this seemed surprised when I tell them attorneys cannot do that, and it may even be criminal. Their response is that other lawyers do this practice.
Why would any policyholder want to deal with and be represented by unethical people? Policyholders should verify and seek assurances about how they will be treated by professionals offering help before signing any contracts. They should always seek credentials and investigate the background and references before allowing others to work for them regarding an insurance loss.
Thought For The Day
We might come closer to balancing the Budget if all of us lived closer to the Commandments and the Golden Rule.