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Insurance Law and Bad Faith.
When life happens and you need to use the insurance you have been paying for, the last thing you want to hear is that your claim is being DENIED; nor do you want to endure unfit or unfair delays.
Unfortunately, too many people go through these types of issues when they need their coverage the most. We know how vital it is to make sure your insurance company provides the coverage for which you have paid. We also know the insurance-regulating laws, and we use them to bring justice to the people harmed by their insurance company’s failure to follow the law and honor their pledge to fairly and promptly pay claims.
Most people buy coverage to guard against losses arising from injuries or home/auto damage; others, to guard against the chance of a lawsuit that will result in losses. In exchange for paying premiums, the payee is owed certain duties by the insurer. These include: a duty to provide coverage, a duty to uphold the terms of the policy and pay any valid claims that are covered by it, and an implied duty of good faith or fair dealing.
Sadly, there are cases where the insurer fails to uphold its duties to the insured party. In order to guard their profits, insurers sometimes use shady methods like misinterpreting their own policy verbiage or records to avoid paying a claim. Others use selfish tactics such as arbitrary demands for proof of loss to try and delay the pay-out of a claim, or asking an insured party to pay part of a settlement when they have no burden to do so. Some even fail to conduct a thorough investigation. These are breaches of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing, and may give rise to bad-faith lawsuits.
In general, bad faith occurs in either first-party insurance claims or third-party bad faith. First-party bad faith occurs when an insurer refuses to pay a claim without reasonable basis or without investigating the claim in a timely manner.
For example, suppose your house burns down due to an accident, and your homeowner’s policy expressly covers the losses. When you call, an agent says they will perform an investigation and that you cannot make any repairs until that happens. However, your insurer never comes out to visit the site and refuses to answer any of your attempts at contact. This is likely the basis for a first-party bad faith lawsuit.
Third-party bad faith claims involve liability insurance. The insurer owes a duty to defend and pay all defense costs, even when part of the lawsuit is not covered by the policy; except in the case of a “burning limits policy,” in which the defense costs consume the policy limits. The insurer also may owe a duty to pay a judgment up to the policy limits when that loss is covered.
In any case, having a skilled attorney can make the difference between barely paying your bills and being fairly compensated.
Contact us today for your free consultation, either fill out the form below or call us at 509-252-5048.
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