Personal injury attorney Tim David discusses the bad faith insurance claim process and how to handle these disputes.
After taking out an insurance policy and faithfully paying your premium, it’s natural to assume that you will be treated fairly by the insurance company if and when you need to file a claim. Unfortunately, it doesn’t often play out that way. Insurance companies are businesses, and they like to be as profitable as possible. Oftentimes, they will go to great lengths to unfairly delay paying claims–or to even deny paying them entirely. If this is happening to you, don’t let your insurance company get away with not holding up its end of the deal. This is the kind of situation that bad faith insurance claim disputes are designed for.
What is Bad Faith?
Like many folks, you may be a bit perplexed by the term “bad faith.” Here’s what it means. An insurance policy is technically a contract between you and your insurance company. You agree to pay your premium, and they agree to fulfill their responsibilities as outlined in your policy, or to act in “good faith” regarding any claims that you file. When an insurance company withholds the benefits of an insurance policy for no good reason, they are acting in bad faith. To prove a bad faith claim, you must prove that the insurance company did not honor the contract and had no good reason not to pay your claim.
Examples of Bad Faith
Ways in which insurance companies act in bad faith include:
- not promptly and completely investigating claims
- refusing to settle a case
- unreasonably interpreting the language of a policy to deny a claim
- not reimbursing entirely for a loss
- deliberately delaying payment
What are Insurance Companies Allowed to Do?
People are often reluctant to bring bad faith insurance claim disputes because they don’t understand what insurance companies are allowed and not allowed to do. A few things that insurance companies are permitted to do when a claim is filed include:
- investigate and question the claim
- wait until the investigation is complete before paying the claim
- denying the claim when there is a valid reason that the contract does not apply to the situation
State laws regarding bad faith vary, but in most states, there are deadlines in place that insurance companies must adhere to. For example, they may be required to acknowledge a claim within a certain number of days and to accept or deny it within a certain number of days.
Your insurance company is acting in bad faith if they are intentionally dishonest with you regarding your claim, if they jeopardize your care and treatment through delays, if they poorly perform their investigation or if they engage in any of the other behaviors outlined previously.
Damages for Bad Faith Claims
Bad faith cases tend to be very difficult to win. However, an experienced and skilled bad faith insurance claim attorney should be able to tell you whether or not you have a good case. Many times, when sufficient evidence exits, insurance companies choose to settle such cases out of court. However, these cases proceed to court fairly often too.
Some of the damages that you may be entitled to in the event that you win your case include:
- punitive damages to penalize the insurance company for acting in bad faith
- interest on the amount of your claim to compensate you for having to wait an unreasonable amount of time to receive it
- reimbursement for your attorney’s fees and court costs
Hire an Experienced Insurance Bad Faith Lawyer
Insurance companies only get in trouble for acting in bad faith when insured individuals take action. Since insurance policies are written in legal language that is difficult for laypeople to understand, it’s easy for insurance companies to trick people into giving up. Don’t let this happen to you. If you suspect that your insurance company has acted in bad faith, hire an experienced bad faith insurance attorney right away.
The personal injury attorneys at David & Philpot, P.L have been battling insurance companies on behalf of our clients for over 25 years. In fact, we have attorneys that used to work for insurance companies so we know all about the strategies they use to deny claims. Contact us today at 800-360-7015 for a free, no obligation consultation about your case.