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Frequently Asked Questions About Bad Faith Insurance Claims
What Does 'Bad Faith Insurance' Mean?
This is a general term that not only means outright denial of your claim, but can also refer to actions or lack of actions by your insurance company that delay payment or reduces the amount of your claim or that forces you to take unnecessary actions that impede or delay your ability to collect it.
Your insurance policy creates specific legal obligations by your insurance company to you. If they don’t honor those obligations you have the right to sue them for handling your claim in ‘bad faith.’
There is an implied ‘bill of rights’ you have that says your insurance company must:
- Treat you fairly
- Investigate the details of your claim
- Not delay settlement unduly
- Promptly communicate with you concerning your claim
- Not use confusing terminology or language in its policy
- Not break any of the promises to you that are included in the policy
- Make clear to you in writing any and all of the reasons it has denied your claim
- Not use excuses to deny or delay your claim
- Not cancel or refuse to renew your policy unfairly
- Give weight to your best interests as much as to their own
If you have questions about your particular situation, schedule a free consultation with us by calling (530) 349-4790 or by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.
What are some examples of "Bad Faith Claims?"
Like many aspects of contract law, sometimes there are ambiguities in a contract or the meaning of certain legal phrases that lead to conflicts. If you believe an insurance company is failing to fulfill their mandated contractual duties to you, you may file a ‘bad faith insurance claim.”
Insurance bad faith law recognizes that insurers have the right to reject an invalid claim or a fraudulent claim. You, as a policyholder have the right to receive fair compensation for a legitimate claim that is described in the terms of your plan.
There are many types of bad faith claims. Here are a few of the most common ones:
- Refusal to pay a claim without citing a reasonable basis
- Delaying their investigation without sufficient reason
- Offering you less than what you deserve.
- Requiring an unreasonable amount of paperwork to delay or confuse your claim
While most insurance disputes are disagreements on interpretation of a contract, if bad faith is proven, you may be eligible to receive:
- Statutory penalties
- Interest of funds that were not paid in a timely manner
- Restitution of funds you paid in excess of your policy limits
- Your attorney fees
- Economic loss you have suffered as the result of the company’s bad faith action.
- Punitive damages
In California, to prove bad faith you must show that an insurer breached its duty by “refusing without proper cause, to compensate its insured for a loss covered by the policy.”
Before filing a bad faith claim it is important first to get the opinion of a professional who does not work directly for the insurance company. You can hire an independent adjuster, or consult with an attorney.
Often claims adjusters will work on a contingency basis as do some attorneys. If you prevail in a claim in court you may also have your legal expenses paid.
For more on legal consultation or to read more on the subject read this article.
What Does a Homes Insurance Attorney do to help?
A home insurance attorney or auto insurance attorney can help you decide if your insurance company is treating you fairly in accordance with your policy and with the law. Often an informed request from your lawyer will “remind” the company of their obligations and can point out to them how they are not treating you fairly.
It is much more efficient for an insurance company to settle your claim fairly than it is to go to litigation which is very expensive.
MORE . . .
What Does a Bad Faith Insurance Lawyer Charge?
When hiring a lawyer the amount you are charged is dependent on the time spent by the lawyer and his or her level of expertise. If there is a need for other input from investigators or experts that might add to the fees charged.
Your initial consultation with a prospective legal representative is the time to be very candid about your financial circumstances so that both you and you the lawyer can decide if you are a “match.”
Most often the fee will be a function of time spent times an hourly rate. The rate can be anything from $100 to $500 per hour on up. In some types of action, a lawyer may offer to take your case on a contingency basis. That means that he or she will agree to take a percentage of the proceeds of litigation and may or may not expect you to share in the expenses.
Some legal work is offered on a flat-fee basis when your requirements are for a particularly well-defined result such as certain contracts or trusts or reviews.
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