Category: Bad faith insurance lawyers

independent counsel

Independent Counsel for Insurance Lawsuits: When You Need It

If you are involved in a lawsuit—and especially one that is more challenging and adversarial in nature—you may feel like the world is against you. No one wants to have to endure the stress of litigation, which can be long and drawn-out, expensive, and has the potential to offer little satisfaction in the end. Being forced to fight without someone on your side may seem like a completely losing proposition, and although your insurance company may be providing an attorney for legal defense, you may feel like the odd man out. Unfortunately, you probably are not imagining things either as the insurance company must follow through on their promises as outlined, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t keeping a shrewd eye on their money.

Whether you are in court due to a serious automobile lawsuit where you were suspected to be negligent and there were serious injuries or property damage, or perhaps a commercial liability incident where someone hurt themselves on your property, in most cases your established liability insurance kicks in and leaves the insurance company obligated for your defense under ‘duty to defend.’ You can be sure that in most cases too, the insurance company will hope to take the more affordable route after performing an investigation and settle with the other side instead of heading for the considerable time and expense expected in the courtroom. If that is not the case though and you are involved in litigation, and you feel like you are not getting a fair shake as there is a conflict of interest with the attorney the insurer has provided, you may have the right to also have accompanying independent counsel—to be paid for by the insurer.

This may be vital to your future when large sums of money are involved for damages, or perhaps a settlement in the end. With independent counsel, you can be assured that the attorneys provided by your insurer are monitored by another legal expert and you have more control over your case. In most cases, this is your right unless you have waived the privilege previously.

Attorneys from the Bolender Law Firm have acted as independent counsel in many cases, representing policyholders exclusively. We are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

 

Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act

Understanding the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act

Insurance is built on a promise, and laws like the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act are put in place to make sure they are followed through on. Like most consumers in the US, you probably have one or more policies, and each is a legal contract that promises to pay for coverage in the case of illness or death, an automobile accident, property damage to your home or business, potential harm to your professional life, and more. To say that the business of insurance is a big industry is a gross understatement, and all too often, greed takes over—meaning that companies sometimes practice in bad faith to keep from handing over large sums of money to policyholders who have kept up their end of the bargain.

If you have been injured or if you are suffering from other damages or catastrophe, your finances may be hanging in the balance—and having to wait on an insurance company worth billions of dollars to pay your claim can be an extremely stressful and frustrating experience. Luckily, laws have been enacted in many states, including California, to protect consumers at the mercy of insurance companies who are not fulfilling their obligations as stated in insurance policies. The Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act allows a range of different protective measures for the consumer, although the laws may be termed differently from state to state.

In California, Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations force insurers to stay in line or face penalties. Most of the regulations are geared toward typical bad faith practices, especially with delays. The insurer must have given you an answer within 40 days, whether they are accepting or denying a claim. Comprehensive investigations are required, along with written explanations regarding the claim or any denial of the claim. “Lowball offers’ are prohibited, and claims that are to be paid must be completed within 30 days. These are just some examples of the regulations, but if you suspect bad faith, don’t go it alone. Consult with a skilled attorney from an office like the Bolender Law Firm for assistance in getting your claims paid as soon as possible.

Other examples of bad faith may include verbal abuse or intimidation tactics used in the hopes that you will back down. This could include requiring volumes of documentation from you too, much of which may not even be relevant to the case and could be both difficult and time consuming to track down—again, causing more delays and allowing the insurer to keep earning interest on money which should be going to you over your claim.

If you need help reviewing your insurance policy, or if you suspect your insurance company may be denying your claim in bad faith, contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm.  If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

insurance

Why Insurance Policies Seem So Intangible—at First

You may have simple insurance needs, spanning one or two cars that must be covered, and perhaps health and life insurance policies covered for work. Or you may have a long list of insurance policies protecting not only you and your family, but also your home, business, and professional life. You may also be in the habit of purchasing other types of insurance too, such as travel insurance, credit card protection, and more. If you have a lot of money to throw around, buying numerous insurance policies may have little impact on your finances, and serves to protect them—along with giving you peace of mind. For most of us though, paying premiums can be challenging, and there is not that usual element of having a tangible retail item to enjoy.

The true value of insurance may never become apparent if a claim is never filed; in fact, you may look at years of premiums that were paid in, with thousands of dollars put toward what seems like nothing! In such a case, insurance may have seemed like a waste of money, but the alternative is to leave yourself unprotected and open to the possibility of financial ruin.

Your car is a good example of both the tangibility and intangibility of insurance. While you may be a car buff or not—super proud of your ride or just glad to have a commute—when you buy a car you are enjoying an object that you can sit in, admire, use, perform required maintenance on or make improvements on as desired. It does require protection in case of an accident (as do you) though, and if property damage or injuries occur, that is when insurance suddenly becomes very real—with numerous ‘wheels’ going into motion immediately when a claim is filed.

And although your insurance policy may have just been a stack of papers initially, once you receive payment (or a settlement) for a claim and are able to rectify damages, it translates into a return on all the premiums that you paid—and sometimes quite a substantial one. In other cases, there could be challenges in receiving payment for a claim. You may have been working with an injury or car accident attorney already, but if you suspect bad faith practices due to delays or outright denials of claims, it is time to consult with a firm like the Bolender Law Firm, skilled in dealing with bad faith insurance law.

If you need help reviewing your insurance policy, or if you suspect your insurance company may be denying your claim in bad faith, contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm.  If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

health insurance

Even Doctors May Forgo Health Insurance These Days

Health insurance is a big topic in the US today, and often a controversial one, encompassing our personal lives as well as the politics of the nation. Affordability is the major challenge for many—and without the proper coverage in place, many are just forced to go without care. Along with that, medical bills are the number one reason that so many consumers in the US are forced to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. One illness or accident can be incredibly debilitating, but those affected may not be able to work either—taking the devastation beyond the physical realm. Health insurance is supposed to protect against financial ruin, but today that is not always the case—and while some consumers go without simply because they cannot afford it, some doctors and nurses are beginning to doubt its worth altogether.

Most of us associate physicians with health—and often, affluency. So, it is somewhat shocking to hear that larger numbers of medical professionals are beginning to self-insure simply because what they end up paying out over the year for medical care is less than what insurance premiums would have cost. Recent news shows that a surprising number of doctors and nurses see the health insurance system as a ‘broken model’ no longer worth adhering to, despite the obvious financial risks.

“You would think that these are educated folks who understand they’re limited in their ability to predict what kind of health events might happen to them down the road,” said Sabrina Corlette, research professor at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. “On the other hand, there’s certainly a tipping point when premiums keep rising.”

Medical professionals without health insurance may seem to be a strange irony, but like many other consumers in the US, they also tire of dealing with large companies, high premiums, and many of the headaches that come with filing claims—only to have trouble seeing them paid or being forced to provide excessive documentation. Some insurance companies may practice outright bad faith by not even going so far as to investigate claims, causing ongoing delays for paying, offering low-ball offers, or denying outright.

If you need help reviewing your insurance policy, or if you suspect your insurance company may be denying your claim in bad faith, contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm.  If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

preference beneficiary clause

Preference Beneficiary Clause: Understanding Life Insurance

You may have heard the saying that life insurance is for the living; however, if beneficiaries are not set up correctly, that could prove futile. Many of us would rather not think about having to buy any type of insurance, and especially when it forces us to examine our mortality further, along with what can sometimes be a challenging chore in dividing up assets. Life insurance can be an excellent investment tool though, allowing you to help your kids and other family members later. They may have college tuition to pay for, along with other necessary expenses. Your surviving spouse may need help getting by without your income after you die. Debt and taxes often need to be paid off—and the burden of the funeral and burial expenses should be taken care of too.

Once life insurance is in the process of being paid out by the insurer you chose, you won’t be around to doublecheck, which is why it is critical to make sure all the details are correct when it comes to your beneficiaries. If one or more is not specifically chosen, a clause such as the preference beneficiary clause will take over, giving preference to a list of provided names on the policy. In most cases, naming your beneficiary should be a simple task—along providing a contingent beneficiary who only receives funds if the primary beneficiary is no longer alive at the time that the life insurance claim is filed.

Insurance companies are expected to act in good faith when paying a life insurance claim, but in some cases, there may be challenges for beneficiaries when it comes to receiving their money. Because life insurance often involves large amounts of money, an insurer acting in bad faith may do everything possible to see the policy rescinded—especially if they can prove details on the application were erroneous or fraudulent, or if premiums had lapsed for one or more payments. Other signs of bad faith include lack of investigation or no processing of the life-insurance claim, long delays with no real explanation, low-ball offers, and complete denials of claims.

If you need help reviewing your life insurance policy, or if you suspect your insurance company may be denying your claim in bad faith, contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm.  If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

insurance agent

Five Tips for Finding the Best Insurance Agent

Unless you know an insurance agent, it can be difficult to find someone who loves insurance. Although having the peace of mind and protection that insurance offers can be well worth it, most of us groan at the thought of having to purchase this safeguard—whether you are shopping for auto insurance, homeowner’s insurance, life insurance, liability insurance…and the list goes on. It’s rare that anyone can get by without at least one form of insurance, and although you can purchase some easily online (auto, for instance), for most other plans you will need to speak to an insurance agent—and this can be a challenging task at times.

Here are five pointers to help you find the best fit with an agent:

  1. Seek a word-of-mouth referral from trusted friends – this is often the best way to find an insurance agent who is both trustworthy and competent. If they have been working for your friends for years, you may have also found yourself an insurance agent who can help you over time as your needs continue to expand.
  2. Do your research first to make sure they know what they are talking about – while years of experience certainly help, make sure your agent is well-versed in the types of insurance you need to buy. If they were to make a mistake in your policy or forget certain coverages, you could be in for a major headache in trying to rectify the situation—and you may even end up having to sue.
  3. Make sure they are enthusiastic about the product, and about answering the list of questions you may have – you want to work with an effective communicator. Again, do your research and know what questions to ask so you can pick both the policy and agent that will work best for you. Plan to interview more than one agent for this important job.
  4. Check out their office – is it well-appointed and organized? This could speak volumes about their organizational skills, which are vital in the insurance business.
  5. Licensing – don’t be afraid to ask for proof of credentials. You agent should be properly licensed for all lines of insurance you require.

If you need help reviewing your insurance policy, or if you suspect your insurance company may be denying your claim in bad faith, contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm.  If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

bad faith

Bad Faith: How Can It Be Proved in Claims Denial?

In some cases, buying insurance may be as easy as making a call, getting coverage, and paying up—only to put policy information in a drawer where it rarely comes up again. Depending on the type of insurance though, there could be other policies that involve a lot of consideration and effort on both your insurance agent’s part as well as yours; for instance, business insurance may be complex, or your home may in an area that needs extra coverage for wind or flooding or even earthquakes or landslides.

Bad Faith Practices May Be Marked by Ongoing Delays

From deciding what to buy, to parlaying cash for large premiums, and then going through a difficult claims process, you may have a sour taste in your mouth about insurance overall. You aren’t alone either as thousands of policyholders around the US have difficulty in getting claims paid for auto insurance, life insurance, general liability, and more. There is a difference though between going through what can be the normal hassle of getting paid and dealing with an insurance agency acting in bad faith. If you are concerned that the insurer has an agenda other than paying your claim expediently—and fairly—contact an experienced firm like the Bolender Law Firm as soon as possible.

Even if an insurer is acting in bad faith, the process may seem to start out normally with the adjuster asking questions (hopefully these are directed toward your attorney and not you), requesting reports, and working on a settlement. In some cases, the insurer may fail to even investigate the case at all—and as time drags on, that is a major red flag for any policyholder! If you are forced to sue an insurer for bad faith practices, it can usually be proved by pointing out that there was indeed a lack of any investigation or any care about the claim along with other practices such as offering a lowball settlement for a claim that is clearly worth much more, delaying a payout beyond the expected amount of time, or denying it altogether.

The Insurer May Hope You Will Give Up

Other bad faith practices put pressure on the policyholder, hoping they will just give up as they are forced to produce excessive amounts of paperwork. Policyholders may even be subjected to verbal abuse or threats in more extreme cases. Although again it is highly recommended that you have your attorney speak with the insurer, if you are in contact with customer service representatives, agents, or adjusters during a claims process that seems to be going south, save all documentation and take notes regarding dates, times, and content of all conversations.

Contact Us for Help Now!

If you need help reviewing your insurance policy, or if you suspect your insurance company may be denying your claim in bad faith, contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm.  If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

typical bad faith practices

Typical Bad Faith Practices & Why Insurers Use Them

When you buy an insurance policy, mutual promises are being made between you and the insurer. In exchange for payment of your monthly, quarterly, or annual premiums, you are given protection in the form of insurance coverage—whether that is for health, life, home, business, or more. And while some insurance may be required, other types are just recommended, and rightly so as coverage could mean the difference between saving your home or business or finding yourself in catastrophe both property-wise and financially too.

Insurance is not only important to our finances, but often our livelihoods too. Because of this, as consumers in the US we take it very seriously and expect to be backed up by our insurers when something goes wrong. Unfortunately, in some cases there may be loopholes in policies, errors, or general misunderstandings regarding coverage. To have a claim denied can be devastating in some circumstances, and this is even more frustrating if you believe the insurance company is acting in bad faith. You may have done due diligence in shopping for policies, assessing your needs, finding a good agent, and updating policies quarterly or annually depending on changes.

Why would an insurance company act in bad faith? While it is atrocious behavior that often leaves policyholders feeling like they have nowhere to turn, the reasoning behind their actions is usually as simple as greed. Insurers churn out billions of profits each year, and they don’t do so by giving out large discounts or giving anything away; in fact, most premiums are on the increase—both continually and substantially so.

Bad faith practices, whether emanating from agents, adjusters, or other customer service representatives, must be reported and the insurer must be held accountable for such unethical actions. Typical red flags alerting you to something awry with your claim include ongoing delays; in fact, you may be shocked to find that investigative measures have not even been taken at all regarding your claim. If an effort is made to settle your claim, the amount offered may be unreasonably low, and you may find discrepancies between what your policy states and what the adjuster says. You may be wrongfully accused of fraud, asked to bring forth unreasonable amounts of unnecessary amounts of documentation, or just denied altogether.

If you need help reviewing your insurance policy, or if you suspect your insurance company may be denying your claim in bad faith, contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm.  If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

claims adjusters

Claims Adjusters: What Are Their Roles?

For many policyholders, the insurance policy remains an intangible purchase—and one that is paid for but never really used except for offering the peace of mind that financial protection is in place and any state or governmental requirements are met—whether in terms of necessary coverage like worker’s compensation or perhaps car insurance. For others though, there may be numerous, valid insurance claims filed over a lifetime, from commercial insurance needs to personal ones regarding health or life insurance, homeowners, or more. If you had to file a claim in the past or are filing one now, you may be meeting a claims adjuster for the first time in your life. They will basically follow a claim from beginning to end.

The adjuster is responsible for investigating the claim initially—and if you have been in an accident due to the negligence of others, you may hear from them much more quickly than expected as they hope to open and close the case quickly—and often, before you get an attorney. The adjuster begins by collecting the facts from all parties involved, as well as examining the damage. They may need to conduct numerous interviews, including with any witnesses. The investigation should be thorough (this is really the most important part of their job) and means examining damages, reports, and statements on all sides. Afterward, the adjuster comes up with a settlement amount presented by the insurance company.

While in most cases any claims adjuster is all business and is not your friend (no matter how congenial they may be), they are someone to be watched very closely, and all communications should be handled with care; in fact, if you are involved in a case where the other party’s insurer should be paying a claim to you, the situation could become quite adversarial. Without expert legal help, your case could be significantly jeopardized, so consult with a skilled attorney as soon as possible for help—and then refer any claims adjusters to them. In most cases, the adjuster is acting in the interest of the insurer, and they are well-schooled in how to save money for their employers. They may even receive extra compensation or bonuses for doing so.

Are you concerned about a recent claim, or are you trying to understand your insurance policy? If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, the Bolender Law Firm will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

car wrecks

Car Wrecks: Make Sure You Have a Copy of the Accident Report

While some motorists travel as if on autopilot, commuting and running daily errands, many of us proceed with extreme caution every time we head onto the roads. With statistics showing that traffic accidents just continue to rise, everyone should be worried today whether they are traveling by car, on two wheels, or on foot. This means practicing more diligence and defensive driving than ever, along with knowing what to do if you are in an accident.

Most of us would rather think about a million other things than what to do or how to prepare for the aftermath of a car wreck; unfortunately, most drivers will be involved in at least one traffic accident in their lives. For some, a car crash means debilitating and life-changing injuries—for others it can still mean substantial property damage and trauma, even if it is just emotional. Depending on the severity of the accident, there may be grounds for a lawsuit or your injury attorney may be involved in settlement talks with the insurance company. What you do right after the accident could have a major bearing on your case though, so take time now to be prepared for such an occurrence later.

Making sure there is an accident report is the first course of action. This happens after you call the police. If you were in a wreck due to the negligence of others, they may not want to call the police, or it may seem like no one is hurt. In some cases, the at-fault party may just want to offer you their personal information or even just cash in exchange for everyone leave the scene without calling local law enforcement. Unless you have been in an extremely minimal fender bender, such behavior is almost always unacceptable. An accident report should be completed, and it is vital that you have a copy to pass on to your attorney, as well as the insurance company later.

If anyone is injured on the scene, an ambulance should be called immediately. If you have any question at all that you or a passenger (or if someone seems injured and unconscious or groggy in the other car) is hurt, it is still recommended that you act immediately. Keep in mind also that waiting to be treated may look questionable later if you are involved in a lawsuit regarding the accident. Contact information and insurance information should be traded as soon as possible after the accident, and if you have access to a camera, photograph both cars, license plates, and the entire traffic scene—to include road signs, traffic signs and lights, and any other pertinent information. Contact information should be requested from witnesses too.

If you need help reviewing your insurance policy, or if you suspect your insurance company may be denying your claim in bad faith, contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm.  If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!