Washington Disability Insurance Claims

We are a healthcare/professional disability insurance law firm with a national reputation for obtaining successful results for our clients. Our firm has represented physicians, dentists, lawyers, executives and other professionals throughout the country, with the goal of securing and protecting their entitlement to benefits on own-occupation disability insurance policies.

We consult with physicians, dentists, attorneys and business executives filing disability claims throughout Washington, including the Seattle and Spokane areas. If you’d like to discuss your particular claim with our attorneys, we are happy to set up a free consultation.

Below are some resources for policyholders filing disability insurance claims in Washington. If you would like to learn more about the disability claim process or insurance bad faith in other states, please visit our homepage.

Does Washington Recognize Insurance Bad Faith?

Washington does recognize insurer bad faith. As explained by the Supreme Court of Washington, “[t]he duty of good faith is not specific to either of the main benefits of an insurance contract but permeates the insurance arrangement.” St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Onvia, Inc., 165 Wash. 2d 122, 129-30, 196 P.3d 664, 667-68 (2008) (internal citations omitted).

The Supreme Court of Washington has also instructed that “[t]he good faith duty between an insurer and an insured arises from a source akin to a fiduciary duty.” Id. This fiduciary duty “implies more than the ‘honesty and lawfulness of purpose’ which comprises a standard definition of good faith. It implies ‘a broad obligation of fair dealing’ . . . and a responsibility to give ‘equal consideration’ to the insured’s interests.’” Id.

Additionally, “[a]n action for bad faith handling of an insurance claim sounds in tort.” Id.  In order to establish bad faith, “an insured is required to show the breach was ‘unreasonable, frivolous, or unfounded.’” Id.

The case excerpts above are not meant to be a comprehensive discussion of each state’s first-party bad faith or disability insurance law. They are merely meant to act as a resource/starting point for those interested in learning more about how insurance bad faith works in their state.

You should always speak with an attorney before making any legal arguments relating to your disability claim.

Notable Washington Disability Insurance Cases

Abrams v. Unum Life Ins. Co., C21-0980 TSC (W.D. Wash. Dec. 27, 2022) (Appellate attorney suffering from long COVID filed for disability benefits; the court found that Abrams was disabled from doing the “mentally and physically grueling” work of an appellate attorney when all Abrams’ providers confirmed that he was sick and unable to meet the demands of his prior occupation, although all did not agree on a diagnosis of long-haul COVID).

Hsu v. Northwestern Mutual Life, C20-88 TSZ (W.D. Wash. Feb. 5, 2021) (Washington interventional medicine doctor suffering from constant right elbow pain, exacerbated by wrist extension and/or elbow flexion; the court determined that Dr. Hsu had filed late and missed the proof of loss deadline and also determined that whether he had been a physician or had no regular occupation was debatable; while the court initially found for Northwestern Mutual in this decision, they later granted Dr. Hsu a re-hearing and the case then settled).

Kaplan v. Northwestern Mutual Life Ins. Co., 115 Wn. App. 791; 65 P.3d 16, (Wash.App. 2003) (Plaintiff with severe OCD filed a disability claim; the court found that “under the care of a physician” was ambiguous since it was not clear whether the insured needed to be under the care of a doctor at the time the disability arose or when the claim was brought; the court further found that, particularly in mental impairment claims , so long as a current treating physician certifies disability retroactive to a particular date, insurer cannot deny benefits by relying on “under the care of a physician” clause).

Scapa v. Provident Life and Accident Ins. Co., 108 Wash.App. 1017 (2001) (Washington podiatrist diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and cervical radiculopathy filed a disability claim with Provident/Unum; Provident denied coverage stating that Dr. Scapa had dual occupations (podiatrist and medical clinic administrator), and was only disabled as a podiatrist; the court found there was an issue of fact regarding whether Dr. Scapa was engaged in dual occupations and reversed and remanded the case).

Common Disability Claim Questions

What should I expect when filing a disability claim?

What issues am I most likely to face handling my disability insurance claim alone?

Why are disability insurance claims made by physicians, dentists and other professionals especially targeted for denial or termination?

My disability claim was just denied. What should I do now?

What can my insurance company do when it is investigating my claim?

Do insurance companies conduct surveillance and, if so, when are they watching?

Why does my insurer want to conduct a field interview?

How can I tell if I have a true own-occupation policy?

What are the different types of disability policies?

Washington Federal District Court Locations

Professional disability claims are often filed in, or removed to, Federal Court given the amounts in controversy. When we work with local counsel to be admitted pro hac vice, we identify the courthouse that is closest to you. Below is a list of the primary Federal Courthouses in Washington, but there may be satellite courthouses that are closer to where you live.

Spokane. Thomas S. Foley U.S. Courthouse, 920 W. Riverside Avenue, Room 840, Spokane, WA 99201.

Seattle. 700 Stewart Street, Suite 2310, Seattle, WA 98101.

Tacoma. 1717 Pacific Avenue, Room 3100, Tacoma, WA 98402.

Who Do Your Disability Insurance Attorneys Represent?

The lists below provide a representative overview of the types of professionals we represent, the disability companies we file claims with and litigate against, and a non-exhaustive list of some of the disabling conditions our prior clients have had.


Anesthesiologists | Attorneys | Cardiologists | Chief Medical Directors | Chiropractors | Commercial Real Estate Brokers | Corporate Executives | Emergency Medicine | Endodontists | Gastroenterologists | General Dentists | Gynecologists | Internal Medicine | Neurologists | Neurosurgeons | Obstetricians | Ophthalmologists | Oral Surgeons | Orthodontists | Orthopedic Surgeons | Otolaryngologists | Physical Therapists | Podiatrists | Professional Athletes | Prosthodontists | Psychiatrists | Psychologists | Pulmonologists | Radiation Oncologists | Radiologists | Rheumatologists | Veterinarians

Physician Claims & Resources | Dentist Claims & Resources

Disability Insurance Companies

Aetna | AIG | Allstate | Anthem | American General | Ameritas | Berkshire Insurance Group | Boston Mutual | Cigna/LINA | Colonial Life | Connecticut General | Davies Life & Health/Disability Management Services, Inc. | Disability Reinsurance Management | First Unum | Fortis | Great West | Guardian Life | Hartford | Jefferson | John Hancock | Liberty Mutual | Lloyd’s of London | Mass Casualty | Mass Mutual | MetLife | Monarch | Mutual of Omaha | National Life of Vermont | New York Life | New England Life | Northwestern Mutual Life | Ohio National | Paul Revere | Penn Mutual | Phoenix Life Insurance | Principal Life | Provident | Prudential | Reassurance America | Reliance | Reliance Standard | Sedgwick | Standard | Sun Life | The Equitable Life | Transamerica | Trustmark | Trustmark Disability Advisors | Union Central | Unum | UnumProvident

Disabling Conditions

Aneurysms | Anxiety/Panic Attacks | Angina Pectoris/Ischemia | Arthritis (Osteo, Psoriatic, Rheumatoid) | Atrial Fibrillation (AF) | Autoimmune Disorders | Bipolar Disorder | Brachial Plexus Injuries | Bulging Discs (Cervical/Lumbar) | Bursitis | Cancer | Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) | Cervical/Neck Pain | Crohn’s Disease/IBD | Complex Regional Pain Syndrome | Congestive Heart Failure | Coronary Artery Disease | Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) | Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) | Dislocated Elbow/Shoulder | Dislocated Hip/Hip Replacement | Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) | Essential Tremors | Focal Dystonia | Ganglion Cysts | Glaucoma | Hand/Arm Pain – NOS | Head Trauma/Cognitive Difficulties | Hearing Loss | Herniated Discs (Cervical/Lumbar) | Ligament Tears | Long-Haul COVID | Lumbar/Back Pain | Lyme Disease | Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) | Macular Degeneration | Meniere’s Disease | Migraines | Multiple Sclerosis (MS) | Musculoskeletal Disorders | Myasthenia Gravis (MG) | Myelopathy (Cervical/Lumbar) | Myofascial Pain Syndrome | Nerve Impingement/Entrapment | Neuroma | Orthostatic Hypertension/Hypotension | Osteoarthritis | Paresthesia/Dysesthesia | Parkinson’s Disease | Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction | Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) | Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction | Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD) | Radiculopathy (Cervical/Lumbar) | Repetitive Stress Injuries | Retinal Detachment/Floaters | Rotator Cuff Injury/Tears | Sciatica | Scoliosis | Serotonin Syndrome | Shoulder/Back/Neck Pain – NOS | Sleep Apnea | Spondylolisthesis | Spondylosis | Stenosis (Spinal/Foraminal) | Stroke | Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) | Traumatic Injuries | Tumors | Ulnar Neuropathy | Vertigo/BPPV | Visual Impairment

The information provided above is offered purely for informational purposes. It is not intended to create or promote an attorney-client relationship, and does not constitute and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

Every claim is unique and the discussion above is only a limited summary of information that may be relevant to your claim. An experienced disability insurance attorney can help you assess your particular disability claim, or potential disability claim, and determine what options are available to you.