Insurance Claims and Bad Faith Insurance Companies
You’ve kept up your end of the bargain, diligently paying your insurance premiums on a regular basis. Therefore, it’s only natural to expect that your insurer will treat you with the same respect and honesty. You trust that it will always act in good faith and be there when you need it, but have you been trusting too much?
Your assumptions could be wrong, and if they are, it’s something you may never learn until you make a claim.
When an insurer deals with you dishonestly, it is said to be acting in bad faith. This behavior is commonplace and embraces a range of somewhat underhanded practices. You can be sure that your insurer is acting in bad faith when it:
– Declines to investigate your claim in a thorough and timely manner. Insurance companies are duty-bound to investigate every valid claim made by their policyholders. Failure to do so constitutes a textbook example of bad faith.
– Offers you less money than you know your claim is worth. The insurer who agrees to pay no more than a fraction of your total medical bills is more than likely guilty of acting dishonestly.
– Delays or denies your requests for approvals on medical treatment. When your health is on the line, any impediment to receiving care could be catastrophic. The insurer is responsible for approving payment for your prescribed covered treatment in a timely manner, and a failure to do so amounts to a dereliction of duty.
– Refuses to honor your claim but fails to give you a reasonable explanation. If your claim is justifiable, the insurer who denies it on a pretext that is bogus or nonexistent could be guilty of bad faith practices.
– Drags its feet in paying your legitimate claim. If your insurer delays in paying a claim that it has already approved and that you know to be valid, it’s time to call for legal help.
– Intentionally misrepresents the law or misconstrues the language of your policy. Some insurers attempt to sidestep their responsibility by claiming that the policyholder has misunderstood the terms of his policy. Others will attempt to invalidate the claim by telling the policyholder that he or she is legally at fault for having made an error on a claim submission form.
– Refuses to supply supporting documentation when denying your claim. Upon your request, the insurer who declines to pay must provide you with coverage-related papers explaining the reasons why.
– Puts company profits ahead of its policyholders’ claims. Insurers who improperly deny or low-ball legitimate claims are likely guilty of an impropriety.
– Accuse or threaten their policyholders. When attempting to escape its legal obligation for making good on a valid claim, an insurer may accuse the claimant of having deliberately set the scene for the accident or mishap that caused the damage. Some will go so far as to threaten legal repercussions for claimants who insist on pressing ahead with their claims, possibly accusing them of crimes like arson or worse.
Third-party insurers are also responsible for acting in good faith toward those who have suffered injury at the hands of their policyholders. Their duty, however, is not as great, and to prove bad faith in this scenario, you would have to prove that the third-party adjuster has engaged in dishonest or fraudulent behavior on the level of witness tampering or withholding of evidence. If you feel that you have suffered in this way, an experienced personal injury attorney can help.
Is the Insurer Really to Blame?
Some insurance companies will argue that a policyholder’s accusations of bad-faith dealings really amount to nothing more serious than a simple difference of opinion. However, if the company or its adjuster has engaged in any of the tactics listed above, this argument will quickly fly out the window. If you believe that your insurer has acted or is acting in bad faith, don’t keep it to yourself. Let the company know of your feelings either verbally or in writing. If your best efforts go unheeded, it’s probably time to call for outside help.
The question of whether your insurer has or has not acted in bad faith will often revolve around the laws that currently stand in your state of residence. These do vary from one to another. If you have any question about your rights in this regard, the personal injury lawyers at Lloyd Baker Attorneys can help. We will investigate your case, find out the truth and fight to get the insurer to award you the compensation to which you know you are entitled.
Give Lloyd Baker a call for a free consultation today.