Insurance defense firms represent a group of attorneys who are closely controlled by their clients. A survey was made of claims officers of major U.S. casualty insurance companies. It indicated that the amount of fees charged was an important factor in the selection of outside counsel, but that records on past cases and timeliness of responses to inquiries were more important.
Other findings of the survey include the following:
- All companies responding will accept billings at least annually, but monthly, quarterly, or end of case billings are unacceptable to some of the responding companies. Different companies have different requirements.
- Complete, detailed bill forms are preferred, and computer printouts of detail work are acceptable to all respondents.
- Summary bills are unacceptable to some respondents, and bills showing case title and number of hours charged only are unacceptable to most responding companies.
- All respondents find disbursement billing by forwarding invoices for payment acceptable, and all but one company reports monthly disbursement billing acceptable.
- Almost all respondents report advance payment of disbursements for costs unacceptable.
Insurance companies were some of the first corporations to require outside counsel to itemize what will be done and how much each step will cost before allowing outside counsel to begin work on a matter. In some cases the companies have decided, for example, to eliminate certain interrogatories as being more expensive than could be justified. Many of these companies have printed directives and forms which must be completed by outside counsel before the law firm can consider itself to be employed by the insurance company for legal work.
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