Here are two illustrative situations concerning your rights as an insured:
In situation one, a bright, wealthy, educated man (circa 1980) decides he is smart enough to act as his own attorney in a divorce. He does consult an attorney, but does not want to pay attorney's fees for the divorce. He negotiates what he believes is a fair monetary settlement with his soon to be ex-wife, including child support. However, he fails to secure visitation rights in writing. As a result, he pays child support, but has nothing to compel his ex-wife to allow him to see his children on a regular basis. He saved money on attorney's fees, but lost out on his rights as a father and invaluable time with his children.
In situation two, a profitable business has a dispute with a long standing employee over his commission. He quits the company and demands payment of back commission. The company has an attorney it consults from time to time, but decides it can handle this one without consulting the attorney to avoid the fee. The company pays the former employee his commission. The company does not secure a release. The former employee files suit and recovers additional commission money. Without a release, the former employee was free to pursue his claim for even more money, despite the company's payment.
Yes, you can "research" the law on Google and cite your policy language. But as illustrated above, what you don't know about your rights as an insured can cost you coverage to which you are entitled.
In the past month I have had the pleasure of securing increased settlement offers on property damage cases from 15% to 60% more than the initial offer to the insured. Potential clients are admittedly concerned that paying my fee to negotiate on their behalf will not result in an increased offer. They often state: "The insurance company told me that this was their final offer". Don't you believe it! An insurance company has twin competing desires: Save money vs. Close the file. When you hire an attorney to you aggravate these desires to your benefit.
Do you know all of your rights as an insured? My discussions with potential clients with disputed or denied claims inevitably leads to their skepticism that my 17 years of practicing insurance law and litigating these claims may not add value to the process. After all, the insurance company "denied" their claim or has refused to pay more, despite the client's clearly stated reasons why the claim should be paid, apparently supported by the policy and the potential client's reliance on the insurance company's promise of coverage. The potential client has asked and been denied! What value can possibly be added by paying me when the insurance company has already told them "no"? My response is: More than you can possibly know. Why? Unless you practice this area of law, you don't know all of your rights as an insured as set out in the Illinois Insurance Code, contract and common law. We do!
If you have a disputed insurance claim, please call for a free consultation.