Sometimes in writing about ERISA and private disability claims we tend to get into the finer points of insurance claims law and downplay the basics, which are frequently more important in pursuit of such a claim.
The big thing to remember is that insurance companies fight these battles hundreds, if not thousands, of times a day. You have just one shot to get it right.
In this post we are going to try to outline what should be done in the ordinary case when a claim situation arises.
If you think that an injury or illness which prevents you from doing your job may develop into a longer-term disability which might trigger payments under your ERISA or private disability policy, be certain to retain all papers, reports, prescriptions, X-rays, medical and hospital bills involved in the course of that medical incident.
These materials should be maintained for a reasonable period of time if there is a possibility that this injury or illness may recur in future and lead to a claim.
Should you have to file a claim, understand that this is one of the most important parts of the claims procedure. Don’t be lazy or sloppy. The assumption by claimants that they can correct an omission or error on their claim form later, has sunk more disability claims than there are wrecks on the ocean floors of the world.
Your first claim form, if not carefully and properly completed in accord with the terms of your policy, seriously undermines your chances of collecting, even if you have a claim that seems to you indisputable!
Many insureds, because they are not warned otherwise, assume that they are providing that their application for benefits to an impartial reviewer and that their feet will not be held to the fire if they make a mistake. WRONG!!!
Many times, especially under ERISA, the very insurance company which will have to pay you benefits has the right to determine whether or not your claim is covered by their policy. (Guess which way these insurance companies lean in deciding this question?). And, to top it off, their decision is given deference by the courts.
Not only that, you can bet your bottom dollar that if your claim is ever reviewed by a court, the errors of what you omitted or misquoted on your original application will be thrown up to the court time and time again.
So, if in making an ERISA claim, you start off by omitting an important document or medical report or if your physician is sloppy in reporting the facts and nature of your disability, you can be certain that error or omission will haunt you throughout the proceeding. Get it right the first time!!!
When you are unable to work, making a claim for income, perhaps for the rest of your life, is not the time to take chances and hope for the best. You get only one bite at this apple. Make sure you put your best teeth forward!
If you have any qualms about your ability to present all aspects of your disability claim in its best and fairest light, get help from an experienced disability claim lawyer.
It is not wise to stand alone in this fight. You and your family have too much to lose.