If your insurance claim was denied for no apparent reason, bad faith insurance may have caught you in its trap.
Florida law offers some protection from bad faith insurance, so if you have fallen victim, speak with a qualified attorney to learn what options are available to you. Unfortunately, many people never even realize that their insurers are acting improperly and end up suffering at their hands.
Because of this, below we’re going to define bad faith insurance and detail several things insurers do that may constitute bad faith practices.
A Definition of Bad Faith Insurance
When an insurance company fails to provide benefits to an insured individual who holds a valid policy, they may be acting in bad faith.
As part of a good faith offering, an insurance company should be expected to carry out the duties for which it was contracted. When a claim is filed by the insured, the insurance company has the obligation to conduct an unbiased investigation into the claim. Additionally, an insured individual has the right to expect clear, timely communication from the insurance company regarding their claims and insurance policy. Finally, they should receive fair and just compensation as defined under their policy.
When an insurance company fails to meet reasonable expectations, they can be held responsible for bad faith breaches such as unpaid benefits. They can also be sued for punitive damages and damages related to emotional distress.
Here are several ways insurance companies may act in bad faith.
An insured individual can expect a reasonable turn-around time between the filing of a claim and an insurance payment or notification of claim rejection. If this process is unreasonably delayed, charges of bad faith may be filed.
Several steps are involved in a claim investigation, and they do require a time commitment. Insurance companies will review and research claims, then may consult professionals for expert opinions. However, this process should not allow time for the insurance company to find ways to avoid paying a valid claim.
Some insurance companies have the shady practice of choosing professionals who work solely in their best interests, rather than in the best interest of the insured. Bad faith insurance is when one set of evidence is chosen over several other corroborating reports simply to prevent a claim from being approved. The investigations into a claim must be based on facts, not on what the insurance company wants to hear.
Cherry-picking claim reviews
If an insurance company intentionally uses an expert with an unreasonable testimony, bad faith insurance charges may apply.
This applies particularly in personal injury lawsuits. If an insurance company uses a doctor’s report when the doctor has not even met with the insured for a personal evaluation, the report should not be considered valid. If the insurance company uses this report to dispute a claim, it is likely acting in bad faith.
Unfair investigation practices
As an insured individual, you should expect an unbiased investigations into your claim. If your insurance company focuses more on ways to deny your claim rather than affirm it, they may be acting in bad faith. This is also true if they do not conduct a thorough investigation and look into every aspect of the claim.
In a personal injury case, if the insured has several different conditions related to an accident, each condition should be separately reviewed for maximum benefits. If only one condition is researched, bad faith insurance may be at work.
Insurance companies may fail to inform you of the existence of coverage or deadlines for filing claims so they can avoid paying the benefits you deserve. They might also make a low offer of payment instead of what you should reasonably expect under your policy. Another method is using untruthful language to explain your policy to you so that their interests are protected. All of these practices are deceptive in nature and therefore eligible for bad faith charges.
In extreme situations, some insurance companies have been known to threaten policy cancellation unless the insured agrees to a reduced claim payment for no legitimate reason. This behavior is an aggressive example of bad faith insurance.
How to Get Your Insurance Benefits
Bad faith insurance cases can be complicated and difficult to win. If you plan to fight your insurance company in court, you need the expertise of a legal team that has successfully navigated bad faith insurance cases in the past.
An experienced attorney may be able to get you a settlement without going to trial. With their leverage, you may win your case against the insurance company and receive significant damages for your personal injuries.
Don’t hesitate to contact a experienced attorney if your claim has been denied. They can offer you the legal backing you deserve.
About the Author:
A partner at Lawlor, White & Murphey and a distinguished personal injury lawyer, Ben Murphey tries complex disputes that include civil appeals, maritime and admiralty claims, wrongful death, and labor disputes. Mr. Murphey has been recognized for his excellence in the area of personal injury litigation by being rewarded with a 10/10 Avvo Rating and named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for the last four consecutive years (2011-2014). Mr. Murphey regularly tries cases in state and federal courts around the country, being admitted to practice before all Florida courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.