For victims of injury or property loss, fighting with a Florida insurance company is not an uncommon experience. Unfortunately, some insurers fight their own policyholders and delay or even deny benefits and payouts, despite years of faithful premium payments.
This is such a problem, in fact, that Florida and many other states have enacted special laws to curb abusive behavior by insurance companies toward their own insureds. These laws, however, are complex and can be difficult to use effectively without the guidance and assistance of an experienced Orlando insurance bad faith lawyer.
Contact us for a free consultation today.
What is “Bad Faith”?
Every insurance contract comes with a duty of good faith and fair dealing between insurer and policyholder. Even if the policy does not state as much, it is implied by legal tradition. Florida insurance companies have every right to request reasonable proof of claims, conduct investigations, question losses, and even deny or limit claims if it is warranted.
What they cannot do is engage in conduct that has no legitimate purpose but to intimidate policyholders, unfairly shave value from legitimate claims, or simply discourage policyholders from makings claims by making the process so difficult that it becomes more trouble than it is worth.
Some examples of bad faith conduct by an insurer include:
- Ignoring claims or other communications for policyholders
- Denying claims without conducting an investigation
- Misrepresenting the coverage the insured’s policy provides
- Failing to provide a basis for claims denial
- Failing to promptly inform the insured that additional information is needed to adjust a claim
- Denying a claim or failing to promptly adjust a claim without a reasonable basis
Florida’s Insurance Bad Faith Law
When an insurance company incorrectly denies or undervalues a claim, the policyholder may be able to sue to recover the amounts owed.
But when an insurer engages in the conduct discussed above, or denies or undervalues a claim without any reasonable basis for doing so, Florida’s bad faith law provides additional penalties.
In addition to forcing insurance companies to pay over wrongfully withheld insurance proceeds, this law also allows Florida courts to levy punitive damages – damages designed to punish the insurer rather than simply to compensate the insured. These punitive damages can potentially be more than the amount of the underlying claim.
Contact a Florida Insurance Bad Faith Lawyer Today
Florida’s insurance bad faith law is a worthy step toward holding insurance companies accountable for unfair claims adjustment practices. However, the law is also overly complex and imposes a number of difficult procedural requirements upon policyholders who seek to invoke it against their insurers.
Our Orlando insurance bad faith attorneys at Morgan & Morgan have studied this law from top to bottom and have used it to win a number of victories against major Florida insures.
If you are tired of being pushed around by your insurance company, contact Morgan & Morgan today at (407) 420-1414 or reach out to us online to receive your free case evaluation.