What Is Bad Faith Insurance?
Bad faith insurance describes an insurer’s effort to get out of its obligations to policyholders. For example, an insurer may refuse to pay a settlement or unreasonably drag out the process of investigating a claim.
We understand that an insurance company’s refusal to settle a claim can put you in a difficult financial position. If you paid into your policy month after month, year after year, an insurer should honor their side of the deal and offer a fair and prompt payout.
Our experienced and tenacious insurance attorneys can help if you are having trouble getting the payout you deserve. We can determine whether you have a viable bad faith claim and help you move forward with legal action. You could recover damages in addition to the original value of your claim. Contact us today and find out now how we could help.
What Counts as “Bad Faith”?
If you are currently in a dispute with an insurance company, you might wonder what bad faith insurance is. Similarly to other types of contracts, insurance contracts imply good faith and fair dealing between the parties. Therefore, an insurance company must pay out valid claims promptly. Bad faith arises when an insurer denies, undervalues, or delays a legitimate claim.
When Should I Speak to a Lawyer?
Unfortunately, many insurance companies are primarily focused on their profits rather than providing their policyholders with the payouts they deserve. Therefore, bad faith claims can be fairly common. Some companies will deny most claims in the first instance, hoping that policyholders give in and walk away. However, if your insurer is treating you unfairly and resists paying a legitimate claim, it is time to get an experienced bad faith insurance lawyer on your side. Seeking legal advice can be crucial when an insurer:
- Fails to investigate a claim adequately
- Did not adequately explain policy exclusions before purchase
- Makes a lowball settlement offer
- Uses fraudulent business practices
- Delays your claim without offering an explanation
- Denies your claim without justification
- Does not respond to your attempts to communicate
- Does not accept your proof of loss
There can be various other ways in which an insurer could act in bad faith, such as charging higher premiums after you filed a claim, or wrongfully cancelling your policy, among others. If you faithfully paid your insurance policy and the insurer is not upholding their end of the deal, you should seek legal advice. Speaking to a bad faith insurance attorney can help you learn about your rights and the next best steps.
Do Denied Claims Always Involve Bad Faith?
It is important to understand what bad faith insurance is. Not every delayed or denied claim automatically qualifies for a bad faith case. The denial of your claim could be legitimate, for example, when your type of damage or loss was excluded under the policy.
Likewise, a delay in claims processing could be warranted if you failed to offer comprehensive proof for your loss or an insurance adjuster disputes the value of the losses and in other circumstances.
What Does Not Constitute Bad Faith?
Simple and honest mistakes by an insurance company generally do not constitute grounds for a bad faith claim. The same is true when an adjuster calculates a different loss amount than the claimant, provided the insurance adjuster can show evidence supporting their figures. Knowing why your claim was denied and whether the insurer did so in good or bad faith can be challenging. However, our experienced attorneys can help to clarify your legal options.
You Can Fight Bad Faith Insurance
Unfortunately, bad faith insurance is not a rarity. Some unscrupulous insurance companies bank on claimants not knowing their rights. However, policyholders can fight back. You could have the option of filing a lawsuit against an insurance company for breach of contract or bad faith, depending on your specific case.
Before considering legal avenues, however, try to first work with the insurance company to come to a solution. Ensure to keep all relevant documents, including emails, evidence of your losses, and other relevant material, to demonstrate your willingness to work with the insurance company. If your insurer doesn’t budge, it may be time to speak to a lawyer and consider filing a lawsuit.
Filing a Complaint with the Relevant Department of Insurance
Since bad faith insurance is typically a state law matter, you could file a complaint with your state’s department of insurance. Services vary from one state to another, but most departments of insurance will try to help resolve your complaint with mediation.
Filing a Bad Faith Insurance Lawsuit
Once you have exhausted all other options for recovering a fair settlement for your claim, your last resort is turning to the law. Filing a bad faith insurance lawsuit can be a daunting and overwhelming task. You will have to gather the relevant evidence and stand up to a powerful insurance company with lawyers experienced in fighting bad faith cases. However, a seasoned bad faith insurance lawyer at Morgan & Morgan can level the playing field and fight the insurance company on your behalf.
How Do I Know What My Insurance Policy Covers?
If you have paid your insurance premiums diligently and complied with all other requirements, the insurance company is generally obligated to pay out a valid claim. However, insurance policies are not particularly user-friendly and are often written in stilted and confusing language. Trying to work out which losses are covered can be tricky, and there could be several exclusions in your policy.
If you have reviewed your insurance policy and are not sure whether your insurer is unreasonably denying your claim, our bad faith insurance attorneys can help. We can analyze your insurance policy and circumstances to determine whether you have a valid claim against your insurer.
Which Types of Bad Faith Insurance Claims Does Morgan & Morgan Handle?
If your insurance company has unfairly denied or delayed your claim, our insurance attorneys could help you fight for the settlement you deserve. We can help you hold the insurance company to account with a bad faith claim involving:
- Car insurance
- Health insurance
- Homeowner’s insurance
- Life insurance
- Long-term care insurance
- Disability insurance
- Water and fire insurance
- Business property insurance
We also handle a variety of other types of bad faith insurance cases. If your insurance claim was wrongfully denied, our attorneys have your back and can help you hold the insurance company accountable.
What Are Valid Reasons for Denying a Claim?
Not all claim denials involve bad faith insurance. Some claims are legitimately denied. Valid claim denials can arise when:
- The loss was not covered under the insurance policy
- The policyholder acted unlawfully or violated the insurance contract
- The policyholder missed premium payments
- The claim is fraudulent
Knowing whether your claim was correctly denied can be a challenge. An insurance attorney can review your insurance policy to identify whether your claim was reasonably or unreasonably denied.
What Is a Bad Faith Insurance Case Example?
Many different types of insurance claims could result in a bad-faith lawsuit if an insurer denies the policyholder their due, delays a claim, or offers an inadequate settlement. Common cases involve:
- Hurricane and storm damage
- Burglary, vandalism, and theft
- Car theft and accidents
Insurance companies generally have to:
- Recognize and investigate your claim promptly
- Acknowledge and respond to your attempts at communicating
- Not insist on unreasonable demands for proof of loss
- Provide you with reasons for the denial or delay of your claim
If an insurance company acts unreasonably in denying or delaying your claim, you could have a case against them.
Which Damages Could I Receive for Bad Faith?
If you have a valid bad faith case against an insurance company, you could recover damages in addition to the value of your claim, including:
You could be entitled to damages arising from the unjust denial of your claim, such as financial and so-called “non-economic” damages. Depending on the facts of your case, you could receive compensation for out-of-pocket costs, lost work time, emotional distress, and other damages.
Bad faith insurance lawsuits can result in considerable punitive damages. A court could award punitive damages if an insurance company acted particularly recklessly or maliciously in denying a fair settlement to a policyholder.
Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses
Claimants who have to take an insurance company to court to recover their payout are typically entitled to attorney’s fees and court expenses if they win their case. Unlike in some other lawsuits, claimants generally do not have to pay attorney’s fees from their settlement.
It is important to note that insurance companies sometimes make mistakes and erroneously deny or delay a claim. In these cases, according to Investopedia, the proper remedy is simply paying the claim. In this case, the policyholder would not be able to pursue any additional compensatory damages.
Do I Need a Bad Faith Insurance Lawyer?
Handling a bad faith insurance case without a lawyer can involve many potential pitfalls. Insurance law is exceedingly complex and convoluted. Moreover, if there is a lot of money at stake, expect the insurance company to put up a vigorous fight. A determined bad faith insurance lawyer can fight back when an insurer disputes or point-blank refuses to settle your claim.
If you have a complex claim with high damages, working with an experienced insurance attorney can be beneficial. Consider hiring an attorney if:
- The insurer is denying your claim or making lowball settlement offers
- Your claim involves high damages such as a house fire or flooding
- Fault is hard to establish in your claim
It is essential to protect your legal rights when dealing with an insurance company and adjusters. Having an attorney handle all communication and negotiation with the insurer from the beginning can be an excellent way to protect your rights and best interests.
What Is the Difference Between a First-Party and a Third-Party Claim?
There are two types of bad faith claims, first-party and third-party claims. A first-party claim arises when your own insurance company unreasonably refuses or delays your claim. Examples can include your homeowner’s insurance refusing to pay a hurricane damage claim.
A third-party bad faith claim typically arises when another party’s insurance company refuses your claim or unreasonably delays payment. For example, if you suffered injuries in a car accident, and the other driver is at fault, their insurance would be responsible for your damages. If the insurer refuses to settle, you could have a third-party bad faith claim.
How Much Does a Bad Faith Attorney Cost?
Cost should not be a factor when you need help to fight for what you need and deserve. Morgan & Morgan’s attorneys work on a “no-win-no-fee” basis. You don’t pay a dime in upfront attorney’s fees as we only recover our fee when we win. In bad faith insurance claims, insurance companies typically have to pay our fees, allowing a claimant to recover their settlement in full.
Morgan & Morgan Can Fight for You
If you have a valid claim, you should not have to fight an insurance company. However, in some cases, policyholders have no choice but to fight and demand their due. Taking on a large and powerful insurance company can seem daunting. However, you do not have to go it alone. Let Morgan & Morgan do the fighting.
We have teams of insurance lawyers waiting to take on unethical insurance companies.
Our bad faith insurance attorneys know the manipulative tactics some insurers use to try and minimize or deny claims. We can handle all types of bad faith cases, insurance coverage disputes, and breach of contract cases.
Do not let an insurance company get away with unlawfully delaying or denying your claim. We have helped countless policyholders recover what they deserve and could help you too. Get started now by calling us at (877) 794-4256 or filling in our online form for free advice.