Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

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greenchair
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Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby greenchair » Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:15 am

Pardon my ignorance. What is the difference between insurance recovery and insurance defense? It appears that TLSers shit on insurance defense work, but I am seeing a lot of big law firms do insurance recovery.

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Wholigan
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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby Wholigan » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:06 am

In insurance defense, you are representing the insurance company or its policy holder in lawsuits to recover damages or insurance benefits. Insurance recovery typically refers to representing the policyholder against the insurance company. Biglaw firms that have this practice area don't represent people with sore backs, though. They typically represent corporations who have insurance claims or coverage disputes.

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fruitoftheloom
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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby fruitoftheloom » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:50 am

Insurance recovery can also sometimes mean subrogation, where you represent the insurance company seeking to recover money against a third party. Cozen O'Connor has probably the largest subrogation practice out there.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby reasonable_man » Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:14 am

The funny part about shitting on insurance defense is that a lot of biglaw firms do insurance defense work - it just isn't though of as such because the recovery sought by plaintiff's is much larger and the biglaw firms are paid very high rates for their work. But in reality, the big firm representing manufacturers in asbestos litigation or a pharma company in a drug-defect case is almost certainly having (some or all) of their bills paid for by insurance companies. In many of my cases, where my client is actually my client (i.e. the case is not assigned by an insurance company), I still get paid by an insurance company (at least in part).

Insurance defense that everyone sort of shits on is the low end auto stuff, etc.

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fruitoftheloom
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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby fruitoftheloom » Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:20 am

On that note, most large firms handle reinsurance defense and plaintiff work too. Those are sticky, nasty things where you're fighting over millions or hundreds of millions of dollars.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby reasonable_man » Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:37 am

fruitoftheloom wrote:On that note, most large firms handle reinsurance defense and plaintiff work too. Those are sticky, nasty things where you're fighting over millions or hundreds of millions of dollars.


Yes. In reaility - on some level, the litigation over the insurance proceeds of the WTC following 9/11 was "insurance defense."

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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:36 pm

fruitoftheloom wrote: Cozen O'Connor has probably the largest subrogation practice out there.



I will second the statement about Cozen, I worked for a DC firm that focuses on re-insurance claims and we dealt with them frequently. The disputes I worked on were essentially "who is going to pay this multi-million dollar tab"

"Insurance defense" is very very broad, two firms may be properly said to do "insurance defense" but do completely different things.

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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby juzchilin189 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 4:34 pm

Can anyone shed light on the type of work the in-house legal claims department of a Fortune 500 insurance company would do? Would this would be more substantive than the work done by ID mills who typically get trashed on TLS?

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reasonable_man
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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby reasonable_man » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:06 pm

juzchilin189 wrote:Can anyone shed light on the type of work the in-house legal claims department of a Fortune 500 insurance company would do? Would this would be more substantive than the work done by ID mills who typically get trashed on TLS?



Depends on what you mean by "in house." In house on TLS is usually thought to be a job where you work in the corporate department (i.e. not litigation). However, at least in the NYC area, there are two "in house" type jobs at large insurance companies. The first is traditional in house in the corporate department. The second is where you work for a "law firm" that is created as a sort of fiction by the insurance company and actually litigate cases on behalf of the insureds of the insuance company. That can range from larger scale cases all the way down to true shit-law work...

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fruitoftheloom
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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby fruitoftheloom » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:18 pm

reasonable_man wrote:
juzchilin189 wrote:Can anyone shed light on the type of work the in-house legal claims department of a Fortune 500 insurance company would do? Would this would be more substantive than the work done by ID mills who typically get trashed on TLS?



Depends on what you mean by "in house." In house on TLS is usually thought to be a job where you work in the corporate department (i.e. not litigation). However, at least in the NYC area, there are two "in house" type jobs at large insurance companies. The first is traditional in house in the corporate department. The second is where you work for a "law firm" that is created as a sort of fiction by the insurance company and actually litigate cases on behalf of the insureds of the insuance company. That can range from larger scale cases all the way down to true shit-law work...


To add to this, at the company I work at there are definitely different types of jobs done by attorneys. We have in-house legal counsel available to defend insureds. Most attorneys who do this start defending small claims and soft tissue accidents. Those claims are a slow way to die. It's terrible. You're often arguing over $50-100, but because you're salaried the company won't pony up the money and would rather try the case. It seems to suck. This type of job is the only job I know of open to new attorneys. Even there, because of the glut of attorneys they mostly prefer attorneys with 2-5 years of experience who are willing to be paid $55-60k starting salary. If you do really well, you can move up to a position where you handle mostly larger, interesting cases (think bad slip and falls, fatalities, advertising injury, copyright infringement, etc). But you're being bossed around (mostly) by the adjuster. It's frustrating because the adjuster feels like they don't control the case, and you feel like you don't control the case. You also have to document EVERYTHING that you do and although you don't bill your time, the documentation you have to make up more than compensates for that annoyance.

The other types of in-house counsel include attorneys who review and analyze compliance issues, attorneys who may be in charge of adjusters and who give direction regarding litigated files, attorneys who review/draft policies, endorsements, etc. In our company, attorneys "direct" bad-faith claims, but we never have in-house counsel defend bad faith claims. Also, any mergers and acquisitions are typically handled by large law firms the company hires for that one issue. These types of jobs are few and far between and would never be open to a newly-minted attorney unless you have some kind of serious specialized skills.

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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby keg411 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:37 pm

reasonable_man wrote:
juzchilin189 wrote:Can anyone shed light on the type of work the in-house legal claims department of a Fortune 500 insurance company would do? Would this would be more substantive than the work done by ID mills who typically get trashed on TLS?



Depends on what you mean by "in house." In house on TLS is usually thought to be a job where you work in the corporate department (i.e. not litigation). However, at least in the NYC area, there are two "in house" type jobs at large insurance companies. The first is traditional in house in the corporate department. The second is where you work for a "law firm" that is created as a sort of fiction by the insurance company and actually litigate cases on behalf of the insureds of the insuance company. That can range from larger scale cases all the way down to true shit-law work...


Yup, my dad does the ID latter set-up (the fictitious law firm). Also, I once called it "shitlaw" to his face and he got really really really pissed at me. So I've tried to be more respectful about what he does since then. Not a bad gig because no billables at all; so for people who really respect their time over making a lot of money (at least not until late-career when you can definite get over six figures) and don't have a ton of debt, it's not a bad gig.

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AssociateX
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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby AssociateX » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:06 pm

keg411 wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:
juzchilin189 wrote:Can anyone shed light on the type of work the in-house legal claims department of a Fortune 500 insurance company would do? Would this would be more substantive than the work done by ID mills who typically get trashed on TLS?



Depends on what you mean by "in house." In house on TLS is usually thought to be a job where you work in the corporate department (i.e. not litigation). However, at least in the NYC area, there are two "in house" type jobs at large insurance companies. The first is traditional in house in the corporate department. The second is where you work for a "law firm" that is created as a sort of fiction by the insurance company and actually litigate cases on behalf of the insureds of the insuance company. That can range from larger scale cases all the way down to true shit-law work...


Yup, my dad does the ID latter set-up (the fictitious law firm). Also, I once called it "shitlaw" to his face and he got really really really pissed at me. So I've tried to be more respectful about what he does since then. Not a bad gig because no billables at all; so for people who really respect their time over making a lot of money (at least not until late-career when you can definite get over six figures) and don't have a ton of debt, it's not a bad gig.


This is what I do. I'm staff counsel for a large ins co. It's called "captured counsel" where my business card says "Law offices of ___" but we bill and act like an outside firm (yet we share the same floor and computer system as the claim reps). I handle anywhere from 250-400 files with the majority of them worth $15K or less (and yes, I even go to trial on cases worth $200). However I am out the door by 5:30 pm every day (no weekends), get 6 weeks vacation this year (and I am encouraged to take it) with a 6 figure salary. Our billables are 1900 a year but its used more as a way to measure attorney productivity for the purpose of raises and bonuses.

When people s**it on ID it's mostly due to the low salary and high billables. This all depends on the firm. My old firm had a bunch of former Wilson Elser partners and my files back then were all professional liability claims. More exposure, more $$, more stress. All for the lowly salary of $65K and 2200 billables a year. Unfortunately you have to get through this crap to reach a better job down the road. When people ask what I do and think my firm is some lowly ID firm, but fail to realize that half the files we also work on are coverage and uninsured claims which involve some level of complexity..just last month, I worked on a case with Cozen O'Connor as our co-defendant...so I really love the variety of it..

When you interview for these positions, you have to ask who the clients are and try to get a sense of the culture. Some ID firms are complete mills and chop shops, while others are well respected with a variety of cases.

rad lulz
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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby rad lulz » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:44 pm

I don't think I've ever heard a decent thing about Wilson Elser

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fruitoftheloom
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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby fruitoftheloom » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:45 pm

but fail to realize that half the files we also work on are coverage and uninsured claims which involve some level of complexity.


You're allowed to work coverage? We only allow our captured counsel to defend. If any complex coverage issues are present, the entire file gets kicked to outside counsel with one attorney to represent the company & one to represent the insured. Do you work for a smaller company?

Also looking at your info - I don't want to be rude, but I find it hard to believe that you're getting paid 100k+ to handle small BI claims unless you're paid hourly/contract.

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AssociateX
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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby AssociateX » Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:48 pm

fruitoftheloom wrote:
but fail to realize that half the files we also work on are coverage and uninsured claims which involve some level of complexity.


You're allowed to work coverage? We only allow our captured counsel to defend. If any complex coverage issues are present, the entire file gets kicked to outside counsel with one attorney to represent the company & one to represent the insured. Do you work for a smaller company?

Also looking at your info - I don't want to be rude, but I find it hard to believe that you're getting paid 100k+ to handle small BI claims unless you're paid hourly/contract.


Technically coverage on the bigger claims get kicked toward our co-counsel within the company to handle it, but we have several files that we must handle because they are all part of the same claim (ex- we will file a declaratory judgment action in state court because it affects 50 of the underlying cases we have pending in the civil courts- and instead of going back and forth with co-counsel, our firm handles the entire claim from start to finish.

Yes I know it's hard to believe but not all lower end ID work is low paying. Senior associates at my firm are in the $120-160K range easily and if they go for a management position (ie Associate Managing Counsel or Managing Counsel)- they are at the $160-225K level. I am not hourly, i am considered an employee of X Insurance Co and its Affiliates. I'm at 6 figures now for base and bonuses range anywhere from a low of $3K-15K (could be higher, I did get a $15K bonus 2 years ago). My ins co is quite large (ie as big or bigger than AIG to give you an idea) so the salaries are higher than our competitor firms. Compared to BigLaw, yes it's low paying..but as it was pointed out above, the work hours are pretty much 9 am to 5 pm. Plus we get the standard corporate benefits like generous 401K match, health/vision/dental, free gym membership, and accrual of add'l vacation days with seniority (ie an employee 8 years w the company gets as much as 55 vacation days/yr).

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fruitoftheloom
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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby fruitoftheloom » Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:54 pm

AssociateX wrote:
fruitoftheloom wrote:
but fail to realize that half the files we also work on are coverage and uninsured claims which involve some level of complexity.


You're allowed to work coverage? We only allow our captured counsel to defend. If any complex coverage issues are present, the entire file gets kicked to outside counsel with one attorney to represent the company & one to represent the insured. Do you work for a smaller company?

Also looking at your info - I don't want to be rude, but I find it hard to believe that you're getting paid 100k+ to handle small BI claims unless you're paid hourly/contract.


Technically coverage on the bigger claims get kicked toward our co-counsel within the company to handle it, but we have several files that we must handle because they are all part of the same claim (ex- we will file a declaratory judgment action in state court because it affects 50 of the underlying cases we have pending in the civil courts- and instead of going back and forth with co-counsel, our firm handles the entire claim from start to finish.

Yes I know it's hard to believe but not all lower end ID work is low paying. Senior associates at my firm are in the $120-160K range easily and if they go for a management position (ie Associate Managing Counsel or Managing Counsel)- they are at the $160-225K level. I am not hourly, i am considered an employee of X Insurance Co and its Affiliates. I'm at 6 figures now for base and bonuses range anywhere from a low of $3K-15K (could be higher, I did get a $15K bonus 2 years ago). My ins co is quite large (ie as big or bigger than AIG to give you an idea) so the salaries are higher than our competitor firms. Compared to BigLaw, yes it's low paying..but as it was pointed out above, the work hours are pretty much 9 am to 5 pm. Plus we get the standard corporate benefits like generous 401K match, health/vision/dental, free gym membership, and accrual of add'l vacation days with seniority (ie an employee 8 years w the company gets as much as 55 vacation days/yr).


Does your company write auto? I'm asking because I'm with a top 5 casualty & property insurer in the US, and I know that our starting salary is 55-60k in lower paying cities, no more than 75k even in NYC/CA and tops out at about 120k. This, again, is for in-house defense counsel. They do have good work hours and the benefits are okay. (everything you mentioned, except maybe slightly less vacation). The managing attorneys can make more, but it's not like there are many openings. With the glut of attorneys, our company is starting to hire a lot of 1 year contract employees and paying them much less and giving them fewer benefits. I believe (based on my convos with adjusters/friends at companies that are the largest in the US) that this is consistent with what every other company is doing.

The only exception may be companies with HQ's overseas (think Zurich et al) and even there the attorneys seem to be terrified of the wave of layoffs/downsizing they see in the future.

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AssociateX
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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby AssociateX » Tue Mar 26, 2013 11:11 pm

fruitoftheloom wrote:
AssociateX wrote:
fruitoftheloom wrote:
but fail to realize that half the files we also work on are coverage and uninsured claims which involve some level of complexity.


You're allowed to work coverage? We only allow our captured counsel to defend. If any complex coverage issues are present, the entire file gets kicked to outside counsel with one attorney to represent the company & one to represent the insured. Do you work for a smaller company?

Also looking at your info - I don't want to be rude, but I find it hard to believe that you're getting paid 100k+ to handle small BI claims unless you're paid hourly/contract.


Technically coverage on the bigger claims get kicked toward our co-counsel within the company to handle it, but we have several files that we must handle because they are all part of the same claim (ex- we will file a declaratory judgment action in state court because it affects 50 of the underlying cases we have pending in the civil courts- and instead of going back and forth with co-counsel, our firm handles the entire claim from start to finish.

Yes I know it's hard to believe but not all lower end ID work is low paying. Senior associates at my firm are in the $120-160K range easily and if they go for a management position (ie Associate Managing Counsel or Managing Counsel)- they are at the $160-225K level. I am not hourly, i am considered an employee of X Insurance Co and its Affiliates. I'm at 6 figures now for base and bonuses range anywhere from a low of $3K-15K (could be higher, I did get a $15K bonus 2 years ago). My ins co is quite large (ie as big or bigger than AIG to give you an idea) so the salaries are higher than our competitor firms. Compared to BigLaw, yes it's low paying..but as it was pointed out above, the work hours are pretty much 9 am to 5 pm. Plus we get the standard corporate benefits like generous 401K match, health/vision/dental, free gym membership, and accrual of add'l vacation days with seniority (ie an employee 8 years w the company gets as much as 55 vacation days/yr).


Does your company write auto? I'm asking because I'm with a top 5 casualty & property insurer in the US, and I know that our starting salary is 55-60k in lower paying cities, no more than 75k even in NYC/CA and tops out at about 120k. This, again, is for in-house defense counsel. They do have good work hours and the benefits are okay. (everything you mentioned, except maybe slightly less vacation). The managing attorneys can make more, but it's not like there are many openings. With the glut of attorneys, our company is starting to hire a lot of 1 year contract employees and paying them much less and giving them fewer benefits. I believe (based on my convos with adjusters/friends at companies that are the largest in the US) that this is consistent with what every other company is doing.

The only exception may be companies with HQ's overseas (think Zurich et al) and even there the attorneys seem to be terrified of the wave of layoffs/downsizing they see in the future.


Yes we write auto, (and we also write homeowners, property, etc).(maybe we work for the same company ? ). My firm does PIP (first party auto/no-fault) defense work. Our office is about 50 attorneys spread between the local offices in NYC, NJ and Long Island. I do know some insurance companies like State Farm have been doing what you are describing. A few years ago, they took back about 75% of their auto litigation files from one firm which resulted in them laying off 9 attorneys over the course of 6 months. I find that it's all about the relationships the Managing Counsel has with claims management. At that particular firm, the attorneys were overbilling and the partners weren't monitoring reserves closely or making sure win/loss ratios were being achieved. That's the thing about being an outside defense firm- all it takes is one new manager in the claims dept to say "the heck with this, lets just take this all in house" and fire outside firms. My company has already trimmed the fat which is why we are handling a lot more coverage cases. Suffice to say, our current managing partner is very pro active and the CEO has already mentioned our staff counsel office as being one of the top performing offices within the company for the entire Northeast region so I guess I am not too worried about that angle of things..lol ;)

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reasonable_man
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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:36 am

Thanks for taking time out to post AssociateX.

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guano
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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby guano » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:50 am

I just want to add to this that some insurance companies do a lot more than this. At a large life insurance company that I'm familiar with, in-house has 400+ attorneys doing everything from litigation, m&a, regulatory work, tax, trusts&estates, securitization, real estate, etc.

Large firms are billion dollar companies and pretty much everything they do touches on the law (hell, their chief product is an insurance contract)

keg411
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Re: Insurance recovery vs. insurance defense

Postby keg411 » Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:00 am

AssociateX, your insurance company sounds similar to my dad's (in terms of PIP work). Although his has definitely improved a lot since new management came in a few years ago (and they actually get pretty great bonuses now too). The only difference is that you guys have billables and they don't at all, which is why it's basically 9-5:30 unless it's a court day. And yes, the salaries get to over six figures.

Look, it's not BigLaw and most people think ID is kind of mundane in terms of looking for complex legal work; but if you can find a situation where you're not working for a "mill", it's not a bad place to be if you have no debt and don't want to work all the time.




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