Despite so many horror stories (and you may have already been through a few yourself), most of us choose to—or are required to—purchase insurance policies based on trust. Whether you are buying car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, commercial insurance, or another type of protection, the transaction is based on a mutual promise. You provide honest information to the insurer, their underwriters approve one or more policies for you, and then you are responsible for paying premiums on time—but be aware that although the insurer may have no problem presenting you with delays on their end, missing just one payment could be the difference between having a claim paid, or completely denied.
Unfortunately, the insurance company usually has every right to deny a claim if the policy already canceled, but there can be other complexities (see previous blogs on policies with longer-lasting coverages such as malpractice tail coverage, the claims made policy, or occurrence policy) too. In most cases though, if you have paid your premiums and the need arises to file a claim, you expect the insurer to follow through on their promises. In the case that there was a damaging fire at your home, however, or a car accident (although there could be many other examples) resulting in property damage or physical injury, and you filed a claim, there could be numerous indicators that the insurer was acting in bad faith.
Although delays do happen, they could be a sign of bad faith. There may be delays in any type of investigation by the adjuster. They may be waiting on more information, or it could be a simple case of disorganization. If, however, there does not seem to be any investigation at all going on—or if they have requested torrents of documentation from you (some of which hardly seems relevant and may be extremely inconvenient to collect and provide to them), there may be an issue of bad faith. Other red flags may include delays that are followed by low-ball offers (and pressure or intimidation to accept them), presenting erroneous information as to why a claim may not be paid, or denying it altogether.
If you suspect an insurer is acting in bad faith against you, review your insurance policy to make sure you understand your coverages first. This may require legal expertise, along with skilled representation in the courtroom should you need to take legal action against the insurer. 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!