Insurance companies in the United States are generally required to operate under a duty of good faith and fair dealing toward the policyholders that they insure. When a company breaches that duty, a policyholder may file a lawsuit against the company with the help of an attorney. An attorney who plans to become an insurance bad faith attorney must complete both an undergraduate degree and three years of law school. An attorney who aspires to become an insurance bad faith attorney should also attempt to gain practical work experience in the field, either during or after law school.
An insurance policy is a contract between the insurance company and the policyholder. Aside from the duty to uphold the terms of the contract, most jurisdictions in the United States hold the insurance provider to a higher standard of "good faith and fair dealing." Basically, this means that the insurance company must be honest and straightforward with the policyholders and provide the coverage that the policyholder pays for in the event of a loss. In addition, the insurer must inform the insured of the limitations of his or her policy and the realistic chance that he or she may incur additional liability if a lawsuit proceeds to trial, among other things. Unfortunately, not all companies uphold the duty of good faith and a policyholder may find himself or herself in a position where filing a lawsuit against the company is necessary.
An individual who plans to become an insurance bad faith attorney must first complete a four-year undergraduate degree in the major of his or her choice. Contrary to popular belief, there is no "pre-law" major. Common majors for a student who plans to apply to law school, however, include business, political science, and philosophy. For a student who hopes to become an insurance bad faith attorney, an undergraduate degree in business may be a wise choice.
The next step for anyone on the path to become an insurance bad faith attorney is to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and apply to law school. While in law school, a student should seek internship opportunities or part-time employment opportunities with local insurance companies, if possible. Even if the student ultimately plans to represent plaintiffs, or injured victims, understanding how the insurance companies defend bad faith lawsuits will be extremely helpful in the future. After completion of law school, a lawyer must still pass the bar examination and multi-state professional responsibility examination (MPRE) in the state where he or she plans to practice law. Once licensed, an insurance bad faith attorney should seek employment with a plaintiff's law firm or with an insurance company as in-house counsel.