Tag: Insurance lawyers

Bad Faith: You May Be Due Compensatory & Punitive Damages

The insurance industry is built around protecting risk. You probably don’t want to pay out thousands of dollars each year, writing checks that usually just seem to sail into thin air for lots of nothing, but it is worth it to protect your car(s), that home you just built or the wonderful apartment you are renting that holds all of your furniture and valuables, your business, your health and your life (estate planning), and so much more. And while sometimes it may seem like we buy ‘things,’ just to have to pay more money to make sure we can keep them, it is the way of life in the US currently.

You may be surprised to learn that the average consumer is spending twelve percent of their yearly income on insurance. Costs may rise in your area too, depending on changes in infrastructure, areas where traffic incidents or crime have escalated, or pockets of activity with storms and serious natural disasters. Purchasing insurance can be a serious endeavor, but once you have it, you expect to enjoy peace of mind in knowing that you are protected by your insurer in the case of an accident or other major issue covered y your policy. If that turns out not to be the case later, you may be devastated in dealing with injuries or damages to your home or business. Finding out the insurance company is going to give you a hard time can be extremely frustrating.

Evidence of bad faith on the part of the insurer includes massive delays (and this is where massive frustration usually sets in for you initially) and in some cases, there may be not even be any sign of an investigation at all, which is usually confusing and disturbing. The insurer may ask for massive amounts of documentation, to include items like tax returns even—usually if they are gearing up to cause delays and even to insinuate that your claim is fraudulent. You may receive a low-ball offer from the insurer, with the underlying tone being that if you don’t take it you will probably get nothing. Once these red flags set in, you need serious legal help from the Bolender Law Firm.

While punitive damages may not be possible in many other types of contract lawsuits, that is not usually the case when the insurer is found to be acting in bad faith. Let us review your case and discuss your options with you, considering whether you may be due both compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages will cover the expenses you were originally supposed to be paid plus damages and compensation for injury; punitive damages are much more serious and often more challenging to get as they ‘punish’ the other party. In this case, the insurance company would be punished, and in forcing them to pay punitive damages it is hoped that they ‘learn a lesson’ about doing it again, as well as serving as an example to other corporations that might be thinking about acting the same way toward customers.

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!

rule of thumb

How Did ‘Rule of Thumb’ Become a Saying?

There are many terms you probably hear so much—or say so much—that you rarely stop to think about how funny they sound or wonder how they originated; for instance, how many times have you found yourself uttering a saying like, “well rule of thumb says…” meaning this is how something supposedly should be done, and often is thought of as a general principal based on practice, often approximated. And obviously, you probably aren’t using your thumb for a ruler, although hundreds of years ago, that may have been the idea as a thumb was supposed to be a good measurement for an inch. Check out your thumb though, and you can see that probably wasn’t very accurate at all for anyone!

The term is said to have come about in the 1600’s and may have actually been connected to marital law in England. The law may have said something closely related to the idea that a husband could beat his wife with a stick, as long as it was no thicker than his thumb, although many think this could be a myth too (the Idioms). Typical examples of using this idiom in context might be that as a rule of thumb, you add pasta to a pot once the water starts boiling, or as a rule of thumb, you never work past 4 p.m.

There are also many other very amusing rules of thumb you may never have heard, offering tips for etiquette (even that of cell phones), how to dress (if your shirttails hang below the palms of your hands, tuck them in), when to take your car in for repairs (never on the weekends), where to sit on an airplane (that depends), and more.

In the legal world, the way words are construed can make a huge difference in a case—and as we deal with insurance policies and insurers acting in bad faith far too often, it is important to delve into the truth of words, as well as dissecting exactly what is meant in something like an insurance policy. This can be extremely difficult in some cases if you are not a legal professional, and if you are going through an issue that feels exasperating (and frightening) to handle on your own, call us for help as soon as possible.

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!

emotional distress damages

Bad Faith: Can I Sue for Emotional Distress Damages?

You may have felt some amount of emotional distress just trying scrape the funds together to pay one or more insurance policies over the years! The situation may become very trying, however, when you have filed a claim, and nothing has been resolved. This can be extremely disconcerting considering anytime you were on the verge of being slightly late with a payment or returning a document to the insurance company, they expected an immediate response or consequences (in the form of having your policy canceled) would follow.

If you have reported a homeowner’s claim, for example, time may be of the essence in getting it paid so you can then make repairs to your home. Some cases may be extreme, too, due to a natural disaster like an earthquake or a landslide. Your home may uninhabitable, or very uncomfortable to live in, at best. Chances are, you will know something is wrong quickly as the adjuster simply does not come around to do an investigation at all, or they are right on time—but you are promptly denied without a reasonable excuse. Other red flags regarding bad faith practices on the part of your insurer may include long delays. They may put you off repeatedly, and without any reason. They may ask for voluminous amounts of documentation and begin making you feel as if you are under investigation for fraud due to specific questions and delays.

Often, bad faith practices occur simply because the insurer does not want to relinquish the funds for big claim—they are much better off with that cash in the bank earning interest, and they may not want to take the hit on their financial report for that quarter or year. Their customer service department may be disorganized, or your adjuster may be trying to earn an extra bonus for keeping claims to a minimum. If you are a victim of bad faith, however, this is not the time to go it alone. Contact a skilled insurance attorney from a firm like the Bolender Law Firm and along with taking the insurer to court for bad faith, they may also sue for punitive damages to include emotional distress, time you were forced to leave work without pay, and more.

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!

Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners Insurance: Understand What Weather Events Are Covered

While it is important to read the fine print in all your insurance policies, this is especially true with protection for your home. There can be many exclusions, and it is important to understand all of them, so you know what to expect in terms of coverage if there is a disaster, or damage to the home. Homeowners insurance can be complicated, just like any other policy, and there may be basic exclusions that surprise you; for example, you may not be covered if there is a landslide or an earthquake.

The homeowner’s policy is usually meant to cover the basics in case of an accident, disaster, or theft in your home. Policyholders seek coverage for the structure of their homes to be able to repair damage or rebuild if necessary, buy new belongings or have some things repaired, pay claims in the event they are sued for liability, and in some cases, have funding for living expenses while they cannot live in their home.

California is of course famous for earthquakes, but in many cases, they are not covered in the most basic of policies. Considering that there are thousands of earthquakes in California each year, this is a major consideration for most potential policyholders. Related mudslides and landslides are a worry too, although they are also often caused by rain. Wind and hail may be excluded in some areas too, so do not assume you are covered—and especially not for flood insurance, which may only be available to you through the government. Other water damage, hurricane damage, mold growth, and issues from sewers or septic backing up may not be covered at all either.

Just because something is covered in a standard policy, however, doesn’t mean you can’t purchase extra coverage quite easily. When you purchase insurance, your agent should explain everything thoroughly, and discuss the need for added riders or necessary upgrades. When shopping for insurance, don’t feel compelled to go with the first company or price, but seek out multiple quotes. Also make sure that you are buying enough insurance so that in the case of serious damages you are not left paying for a large portion of damages.

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!

low ball settlement

Do Not Be Pressured into a Low Ball Settlement

The game of insurance can be a difficult one, and unfortunately, that may be exactly what you feel like you are caught up in if you are having trouble getting a claim paid and being asked to take a low ball settlement. This is frustrating for so many consumers who have paid their claims on time, kept up their end of the agreement in terms of their policies, only to be given a hard time when they needed the insurance company to follow through on their promises.

You may start to wonder if you are in the wrong yourself when accused of fraud or other concerns that cause a claims payment to be delayed; in fact, some policyholders could even find themselves on the other end of an investigation when they have done nothing wrong; for example, if you have had a fire in your home and need to file a homeowner’s claim, you may be horrified to find yourself on the other end of an arson investigation.

Such measures allow insurance companies to hold out on paying off big claims though. While there are often valid reasons for questions to arise or for a claim to be delayed, if the insurer is acting in bad faith there are red flags to watch for—whether you are dealing with your own insurer or that of another party. You may find yourself being asked to fill out repetitive paperwork or come up with voluminous amounts of documentation. Other forms of intimidation may be more aggressive such as unnerving witnesses or using tactics to persuade you to take whatever settlement they offer. Producing a low-ball offer and then making it sound like it is the only one you are going to get, in a now-or-never stance, is one of the most common tactics seen by bad faith insurers, and you should not be dealing with such behavior alone! With good legal advice and a skilled attorney behind you, there is a much better chance of getting the settlement amount you deserve.

Other more glaring bad faith tactics are changing the details of your policy without you knowing (apparently) or translating them different all the sudden, delaying payment without any valid reason, and of course—denying your claim outright.

Speak with an attorney from the Bolender Law Firm to review your options. We will advocate on behalf of clients 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 Insurance Claims: Defining ‘Timely Compensation’

If you have filed a claim recently, you probably expected attention to the issue—and quickly; after all, isn’t this what you have experienced in the past before when you were in a car accident and adjusters wanted to get the matter settled—or if you were at fault? No matter what has happened, insurers are expected to respond to the matter expediently. If you are the receiving end of bad faith practices on the part of an insurance company, you may be shocked at such behavior. Unfortunately, however, it is all too common today that policyholders receive unfair treatment at the hands of companies bringing in billions of dollars while you wait

After fulfilling all the requirements asked of you upon purchasing a policy and working with an insurance agent, you are probably extremely frustrated to find that what you are receiving in reward for paying all your premiums is, the possibility of nothing. If you are in that position, however, seek legal help from a skilled bad faith insurance lawyer from the Bolender Law Firm as soon as possible to get the protection and financial compensation you are owed. Fighting a big insurance company is not something you want to do on your own, and especially if you are just hearing crickets after filing a claim for what could have been a devastating accident or issue at your business.

In California, if you have filed an insurance claim, the company you are with should have contacted you within 15 days, with an outcome communicated to you within 40 days; of course, this is based on the insurer receiving proof of the claim too. If they do communicate to you that they are accepting the claim, you should receive the payment within 15 days.

Otherwise, be aware of the red flags to watch out for regarding bad faith, such as lack of action from the insurance company, but many requests for you to produce documentation. This is a common intimidation tactic, as they hope that they will ask for more information than you have can find or have time to produce. The insurer may also try to intimidate witnesses who are willing to speak up in your defense, as well as trying to convince you that whatever low figure they are offering as a settlement is the only one you will probably get—and you should take it quickly.

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: When All You Hear Are Crickets Regarding That Claim

For the policyholder, insurance, and the option of being able to file a claim, is central to one goal: protection. While mainly this is regarding protection of your finances, insurance can also help guard your health, your home, your business, and your property such as vehicles and valuable possessions. Most of us don’t find shopping for insurance enjoyable or entertaining, and while research should be thorough regarding what you need, that’s some dry reading too! Because of this, we rely on insurance agents to guide us through the process of quotes, applications, approvals, payments, and maintenance of policies.

The insurance agency expects you to comply with everything agreed upon in your policy, which mainly refers to paying on time. There is not much flexibility when it comes to payments, and cancellations may occur before you even realize you forgot to pay. If, however, you have performed all your required duties as a policyholder, you may be confused and very worried about why your insurer is not responding to a claim. In some instances, this may be due to an issue that requires more time for examination due to complexities in the case, but if red flags are popping up and alerting you to a potential problem, consult with experienced attorneys from the Bolender Law Firm as soon as possible.

Signs that you may be at the mercy of an insurer guilty of bad faith include:

  • Complete lack of investigation – this is where hearing only ‘crickets,’ may occur in terms of bad faith, as in most cases, you will begin to hear from adjusters right away
  • Long delays – if long periods of time are passing during communications with the insurer, you may have concern to worry, and especially if excuses seem unreasonable.
  • Intimidation tactics – this could take many different forms, from intimidating witnesses in a case to intimidating you through asking for excessive documentation that insurers know it could be hard for you to get, along with trying to strong-arm you into taking settlements by making you think that is all that will be offered at any point.
  • Lowball offers – this is one of the most common forms of bad faith, and many policyholders fall prey to taking lowball offers simply because they are worried it may be their only chance to receive compensation.
  • Denials – unfounded denials are common in bad faith cases, and you should not attempt to fight the insurer without skilled legal assistance.

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!

Errors and omissions insurance

Errors and Omissions Insurance: Know Who That Protects

Most of us want the protection that insurance offers, but we would like to think about it as little as possible, and this goes for professionals carrying errors and omissions insurance too. With the advent of online services, the purchasing and maintenance of insurance policies has been simplified more than ever; for instance, you may be able to call a car insurance company, get a quote, put all ‘the wheels’ into motion, and have a policy within less than an hour. Online representatives can lead you in the right direction regarding standard requirements and limits, as well as explaining more about additional coverage you may prefer. Cards and your policy are generated quickly, and in most cases, you can sign up for an online account too for checking billing dates and other details. Usually, complexities arise when there is a claim.

Damage or liability issues may arise when there is an claim due to the negligence of others, whether another motorist ran into you or perhaps you had a homeowner’s claim due to a major construction defect like a faulty electrical or plumbing system. A customer may slip and fall at your business or you may have your own health insurance claim to file due to an unfortunate illness or an accident. In some cases, you may find that there is resistance from the insurer to pay your claim—and while this could be due to a valid yet undisclosed reason, it could also be due to a mistake on your insurance agent’s part. At this point, their errors and omissions insurance kicks in, and that is how the claim is paid; conversely, this could also happen for you if you have professional liability insurance and a client sues you due to negligence.

Errors and omissions insurance (also known as E&O) protects the agent and their company, as well as you from financial loss if a claim is valid and paid out. Insurance agents may produce errors in the application process that could cause a claim to be denied, but in some cases, they may have failed to examine your insurance needs properly, may have overlooked explaining exclusions that could be extremely important, over may have been negligent in attaining your coverage, or completing the filing of a claim for you.

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 claims

Insurance Claims: The Adjuster Wants to Speak with You—And Quickly!

Insurance and handling insurance claims is all about risk management—and this goes for both sides. While you want to protect your finances in the case of a catastrophe, the same goes for the insurance company, with their definition of a catastrophe being paying out too much! The insurance industry thrives on premiums and fees, rolling in over a trillion dollars in the US annually. And while you can bet your insurer is worth millions or billions, they did not attain that position by being friends with everyone.

Your insurance agent may be a different story, and in fact they may be a trusted friend, or someone who was referred to you by a colleague or neighbor as you run in the same social circles. Insurance companies are big business, however, to say the least, and while adjusters may seem warm and even charming in some cases, beware. They are trained to extract as much information from you as possible in the beginning—and do not be fooled, they will use it against you if possible.

Car accidents and resulting claims are a good example of what to expect from adjusters, and how to react. If you have been injured or experienced property damage due to the negligence of another party, you may be especially surprised at how quickly they begin calling you regarding what happened and your current state. This is your cue to begin speaking with an car accident or injury attorney and referring all calls to them. Beyond the most basic facts, you should not share anything with an adjuster. Why? Because, again, any information sharing could inadvertently damage your case.

Adjusters may ask about your injuries—but you may not even know the full scope of what harm what done to you (or to your car!) during a crash. Along with requesting a full account of what happened, they may also request police reports, medical documentation, and may also ask to tape record your conversation. Again, refer them to your attorney.

In the case that you do not hear much from the other side, you may begin to worry that the other insurer is acting in bad faith, evidenced by a lack of investigation, unreasonable delays, requests for outlandish amounts of documentation, or even an outright denial that seems to have no validity.

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 company

Five Reasons You May Need to Sue Your Insurance Company for Bad Faith

Due to the intangibility and general nature of insurance, you may not discover how unhappy you are with a ‘product line’ or insurance company until long after your grace period has expired (and in that case, you will probably still not get all your money back). In most cases, this is not like a retail item that you discover is a poor fit and decide to return for a refund at a customer service counter with few questions asked. Most of us purchase insurance because it is either required by the state we live in or it is highly recommended, meaning that if you don’t have it you could find yourself in a state of utter ruin.

The process of buying and owning insurance may be completely pleasant, and this could continue for years while you enjoy the basic give and take of paying premiums and dealing with customer service representatives; however, this positive perception of the insurer may come to a screeching halt once you file a claim, and this could be due to adjusters giving you a hard time, or even worse, paying you no attention at all. The term ‘bad faith’ may not be something you were even familiar with until being forced to recognize it via the reluctance of an insurer to pay a claim.

Here are five signs that you may need to sue due to bad faith:

  1. No action at all on the claim – while delays and denials can be disturbing, a complete lack of investigation can be most unsettling of all, especially in comparison to how quickly adjusters set to work when they are motivated to settle a case.
  2. Delays, delays, delays – the insurer may give you a variety of different excuses for delays, some of which seem unreasonable, and perhaps even insinuating that they are investigating you for fraud. This is one of the biggest red flags in bad faith insurance claim issues.
  3. Low-ball offers – this is extremely common as so many policyholders try to deal with the insurer on their own, without the help of an experienced attorney, and find themselves worrying if they don’t take the first offer extended, they may not receive anything at all.
  4. Excessive requests for documentation – this can actually be a form of intimidation by the insurer as they ask you to run around collecting so much paperwork (much of it which may be difficult and time-consuming to put your hands on) that you just give up on the case completely, without receiving any settlement, or by accepting a very low one.
  5. Unreasonable denials – at this point, you need legal help to defend your claim! The insurance company may choose any host of reasons to deny your claim, including misrepresenting the wording in your policy, asserting that there were changes which make the claim valid, and more.

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!