One expects the insurance industry and those that work within it to operate with integrity and honesty, but that’s not always the case. Bad faith insurance claims arise when insurance companies and their representatives shirk the duties that are implied to the consumer—the duty of good faith and the duty of fair dealing. When people purchase a policy—whether it’s a homeowner’s, renters, health, auto, life, or other type of policy—they pay their premiums in order to protect themselves from economic loss. In exchange, they expect that the insurance company will provide the coverage they purchase, stand good for the terms laid out in the policy, and pay out any valid claims that arise that are payable under the policy. When this doesn’t happen, the insurer subjects itself to a bad faith insurance claim.
The duties of the insurance company in most instances are both express and implied. If you have encountered a bad faith situation with an insurance company, either as a policyholder or a claimant, then you may have grounds for a bad faith claim. Contact Russell and Hill to discuss your situation and review your case with our team.
Insurance companies are all about making money, and sometimes that means at all cost. However, insurance companies cannot use deceptive practices, deliberate misinterpretations of the language of their policies, lengthy delays to dodge making payments, or other tactics when dealing with their customers and claimants against their customers. Abusive tactics like making arbitrary demands to claimants regarding proof of loss or failing to properly investigate claims shows a breach in what is known as the duty of good faith that is expected of all insurers.
Bad faith insurance claims can be first-party or third-party by nature. A first-party claim might be one where the insurance company doesn’t come out to investigate a claim in a reasonably fast manner. For instance, if you wreck your car, and your auto policy covers the damages, but the adjuster takes weeks to come out and look at the damage, that could be seen as a bad faith tactic. A third-party bad faith claim is a liability claim. In liability claims, the insurance company has a duty to pay defense costs even regardless of whether the claim in question is covered in policy provisions; if the insurer fails in this regard, it can be seen to be acting in bad faith.
In most cases, an insurance company acting in bad faith can be held accountable for damages that exceed the policy owner’s policy limits. This can include liability judgements, any statutory penalty assessed, economic loss, and legal fees, among other damages.
If you find yourself involved in a bad faith situation with an insurance company, you are not alone. Reach out to our Bremerton insurance bad faith attorney to determine if you have grounds for a bad faith claim and what your next steps should be. Schedule your no-cost case review now.