People with insurance coverage questions or involved in insurance coverage disputes who surf the Internet looking for answers sometimes find their way to this blog, and some of them call or email me. Like James from New York, who inquired this afternoon about where he might find some more case law or legal treatise resources on a particular issue of New York insurance law.
I read James's email and considered not responding. After all, he, like the others who send unsolicited emails to me, should have no expectation that I will take the time to respond. But I did. Respond. Nothing too crazy. Just some links to some posts within these pages, instructions on navigating to Subpart 60-2 of Title 11 of New York's insurance regulations, and a perfunctory disclaimer that my reply did not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship.
Two hours later James's perception intersected with my reality. He replied with a thank you email, which began:
Ouch. Really? If James has had much interaction with attorneys in the past, his compliment to me serves also as an indictment of the legal profession. And regardless of the accuracy of that perception, its very existence should be troubling to all who have attained membership to the bar.This is great and quite wonderful of you. Are you sure you are an attorney? I can't remember when I have been so informed and kindly treated by a member of your profession.
Less than an hour later I returned a telephone call to Steven from California, who owns rental property in Buffalo and had a question about vandalism coverage. In describing the background of his loss and very first property insurance claim, he told me of a telephone conversation he had had with his insurance agent -- bearing the same company name as his insurer -- earlier today. In response to Steven's remark that it seemed to him that his insurer was looking for grounds to deny his claim, his agent said, "Don't all insurance companies look for a way to deny coverage?"
Ouch. Really? If that's the perception of even producing agents, insurers should be concerned. I know no one who likes paying insurance premiums, but when the consuming public think insurers look to deny rather than pay their claims, something's wrong. And as with James's perception of attorneys, the very existence of what is now Steven's perception of insurers should be troubling to insurance companies.
The last slide of every single one of my PowerPoint presentations on insurance coverage and fraud topics reads:
Remember, the glass is half full,
not half empty.
Seek to determine whether payment
can be made, not denied.
When it comes to attorneys, insurance companies, and insurance company attorneys, perception should not necessarily equal reality.