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What’s it like to be a house attorney for a big insurance carrier?

The Travelers post got me thinking about this. I know some a hotshot09/22/18
I remember discussing with one of the major insurance carrie dingbat09/22/18
I heard it’s great for someone looking for work life balan hotshot09/22/18
It is very similar to working for an ID firm, but fewer hour flharfh09/22/18
What are options for someone who does insurance defense and hotshot09/22/18
This thread is conflating two completely different jobs: in- williamdrayton09/22/18
I am "staff counsel" for one of the major carriers. I am exp goorange88809/27/18
GEICO? Sounds like it. Agreed on all points. Most who sta fcct10/04/18
You literally have to clock in and out, with a card? cocksman10/05/18
goorange has it right. I am claims counsel for a large carri associatex11/13/18
hotshot (Sep 22, 2018 - 3:03 pm)

The Travelers post got me thinking about this. I know some attorneys who work for insurance carriers. What’s it like being in house counsel for the big carriers like GEICO, Farmers, Mercury? What’s the money like? Hours?

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dingbat (Sep 22, 2018 - 4:41 pm)

I remember discussing with one of the major insurance carriers in NYC.

Typical workweek is less than biglaw, but not much less (60 hrs or so), and the pay was pretty good, but not biglaw good (low 6 figures).

They had about 400 attorneys, in a lot of practice areas, not just insurance, and almost only hired former biglaw looking to dial it back a bit

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hotshot (Sep 22, 2018 - 8:16 pm)

I heard it’s great for someone looking for work life balance. I heard somewhere it’s as close as you can get to a straight 9 to 5 job as an attorney where you’re not looking at regular late hours or working weekends. Something along the lines of it being for someone who never wants to miss their kids little league games.

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flharfh (Sep 22, 2018 - 7:24 pm)

It is very similar to working for an ID firm, but fewer hours per week without the potential financial upside of making partner. There is the typical corporate layer of extra busy work to deal with but the benefits are better than a firm's in my experience.

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hotshot (Sep 22, 2018 - 8:23 pm)

What are options for someone who does insurance defense and finds out they don’t like it and want to get out? Do you get skills you can use elsewhere?

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williamdrayton (Sep 22, 2018 - 11:48 pm)

This thread is conflating two completely different jobs: in-house counsel for an insurance carrier which involves representing the carrier in subrogation coverage disputes, contracts, employment, commercial litigation, securities, M&A, regulatory matters etc.

VERSUS

Insurance defense for a carrier, which means representing the insured parties in fender bender and slip/falls.

The former is prestigious and requires biglaw experience. The latter . . . Not so much.

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goorange888 (Sep 27, 2018 - 3:44 pm)

I am "staff counsel" for one of the major carriers. I am expected to work 8-4:30, and any extra time I work is solely on me. No billables, or "fake billables" (diaries). I am in court and/or at a deposition 3-4 times a week, with a caseload of 100. It is very corporate-like, which can be good (good benefits), and also bad (clocking in and out, no booze at parties). Typically you do 2-3 trials a year, although the more senior people (10+ years exerpience) will typically have more. Starting salary for one year personal injury experience, in the NYC metro area, is ~$80k. Small raises, but essentially guaranteed, each year. You get a profit sharing bonus annually, which depends on how well the company did that previous year. It is a very relaxed job, although every office is different, depending on who your superiors are (like any job, really). I am about to make the jump to plaintiff's side due to a big pay bump and nice opportunity, but this is truly a lifestyle type of job, and very much a true "8-5", (although and 8-4:30 in my case) if that is what you are looking for.

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fcct (Oct 4, 2018 - 11:15 pm)

GEICO? Sounds like it. Agreed on all points. Most who stay decide the work/life balance is better than the potential financial upside of either attempting to make partner at a private ID firm or jumping to plaintiff's work.

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cocksman (Oct 5, 2018 - 12:04 am)

You literally have to clock in and out, with a card?

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associatex (Nov 13, 2018 - 3:50 pm)

goorange has it right. I am claims counsel for a large carrier (mentioned already). My hours are 9 am to 5:30 although some attys come in later and work late or come in early/leave early (depends on particular office/manager). We don't "clock in" since we are in court 2-3x a week. If we are stuck in court until 3 pm, we are allowed to just go home since our office is 100% paperless [we all get laptops and iPhones). We are just required to "bill" weekly which is used as a measure to keep claim expenses down (ie Claim # 12345 is an auto accident on 2/1/17 and the claim rep allocates $50K for no-fault and then maybe $20K toward litigation costs/expenses aka "cost to defend". Then our time for reports, court appearances, paralegal tasks, etc are deducted from that $20K pool]. So its "soft" billing in the sense that our office does not officially mail Invoices to the carrier-client.

The hours are marginally better than outside ID firms (and there is def a big difference between the "in house" job v. the "staff counsel" job where we defend first party/third party claims (slip and fall/auto accident/no-fault). My firm hires from smaller ID firms and starting pay is in the $75-85K range with the small corporate 2-3% raises each year (which by the way are NOT guaranteed - there are attorneys in my office who've gone through 2-3 years in a row of NO raises). Bonuses are completely discretionary and usually small (most I ever got was $6K).

Benefits are really where the value is. Good PTO time (20 days to start w/ 3 extra days awarded every 5 yrs until Year 25) and low deductibles for health insurance/vision/dental. My monthly OOP for health ins is $$210/mo which is pretty low. This is basically why I stay, lol.

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