When Insurance Companies Don’t Follow Through
When you pay for insurance every month, you expect to receive fair treatment if you need your insurance policy to payout.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. We often see insurance companies do whatever they can to protect their best interests instead of their clients.
This is called bad faith. Bad faith insurance is when your insurance company denies a legitimate claim without reason. It can happen to people who were in a car accident, those suffering from a slip and fall injury, or employees filing for workers’ compensation.
The Little Rock insurance bad faith lawyers at the Minton Law Firm work hard to see that our clients are treated fairly and in good faith by their insurance providers.
As a former senior insurance adjuster Justin Minton has a unique perspective on insurance companies acting in bad faith. That insight helps customers get the settlement they are entitled to.
Contact us if you suspect bad faith on the part of your insurance provider. We can help you take the steps to get the compensation you deserve and file a lawsuit if necessary.
Signs of Insurance Bad Faith
There are a few reasons insurance companies can legally deny a claim: if the claim is found to be fraudulent, if the insured does not adhere to their contract or if the claim is not covered by the insurance policy.
Outside of these select reasons, all insurance companies are required by law to honor their policies and pay the insured what they are due. Bad faith comes into play if they don’t adhere to these laws. Below are several examples of what may constitute bad faith:
- Refusing to investigate a claim or denying coverage without investigating first
- Taking an excessive amount of time to confirm whether the other party was insured at the time of your injury
- Refusing to negotiate with you after you filed a claim
- Postponing an investigation or payment
- Denying that a legitimate claim is covered or denying payment on a legitimate claim
- Intentionally misrepresenting language in an insurance contract
- Failing to deny a claim in a reasonable amount of time
- Refusing to negotiate fairly when the liability obviously falls on the insured
- Failure to provide a written explanation of why your claim was denied
- Citing incorrect information on laws or statute of limitations in order to deny your claim
- Switching insurance adjusters to delay processing time
- Withholding information directly relevant to your claim
- Using false medical or legal terms to confuse you or deny your claim
How Do Insurance Companies Avoid Bad Faith Claims?
Insurance companies train their adjusters well. They do whatever they can to avoid bad faith claims while paying the victim as little as possible.
They will try to prove that you made an intentional misrepresentation during the claims process. If they are successful, they will not be found liable for bad faith.
Some insurance providers may also seek a “declaratory judgment.” This is when they ask a judge to determine if the insurance company owes the policy holder for a claim. If the insurance company takes this action, a bad faith claim is not legally allowable.
The untrustworthy nature of insurance companies is why it’s critically important that you handle your side of things correctly from day one. Not only can an experienced attorney help you do everything by the book, they can help gather proof you are the victim of bad faith.
How Do I Prove I’m a Victim of Insurance Bad Faith?
It can be difficult to fight a bad faith case on your own. If you are injured in an accident, a seasoned attorney can help prevent the chances of a bad faith claim occurring in the first place. They can also be a knowledgeable support system in the event that it does.
The best way to prevent bad faith is to carefully document everything to do with the original claim as it occurs. Doing the following can help your chances in a bad faith situation:
- After the accident, take notes on exactly what occurred as soon as you can. Record the date, time, and location of the accident, along with what happened according to how you remember it.
- Act reasonably and courteously. Do not take your anger out on the other party’s insurance company. Do not swear at or harass the insurance adjustor. Use sir or ma’am and be respectful so no one can claim you were acting inappropriately.
- If you receive any paper communication from the other party’s insurance company, keep it in its original envelope and date stamp it to confirm when you received it.
- Keep a log of any phone calls, whether you contact the insurance company or they contact you. If it is legal to do so, record every phone call. This allows you to prove each and every phone call that happened and makes it impossible for the insurance company to claim they didn’t.
- If the other party’s insurance company contacts you, either by mail or phone, contact your lawyer immediately to discuss how to reply.
- Ignoring these messages may let the insurance company claim that you are failing to respond, relieving them of liability in a bad faith situation.
If you have done all of this and are still witnessing bad faith on the behalf of the other party’s insurance company, your attorney can help draft a letter outlining why you suspect bad faith.
The letter should be signed and dated by you and your lawyer and sent to the insurance company via certified mail. This lets you verify the letter was received and prevents the insurance company from denying its existence.
What Damages are Available to Victims of Insurance Bad Faith?
If you’ve been the victim of bad faith, you may be entitled to damages for:
- The compensation you should have received for the initial accident/injury
- Damages based on the consequences of having your rightful claim denied (attorney’s fees, court costs, etc.)
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages (if it can be proven that the insurance company intentionally acted in such a way to harm the victim)
- Statutory penalties
- Economic loss
- Loss of credit reputation
- Loss of business and/or property
Working with An Insurance Bad Faith Attorney
The best thing you can do when dealing with a bad faith claim is to speak to an attorney. Even if you have handled the original accident or injury claim on your own, it’s never too late to get a lawyer on your side.
If you suspect you’re a victim of bad faith by your insurance provider, please call the Little Rock bad faith insurance attorneys at the Minton Law Firm at 501-794-0001 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.