Snohomish County Insurance Claims Lawyers Protecting Clients Against Bad Faith Insurers
When you buy insurance, you are entering into a contract with your insurance company. As part of this contract, you agree to pay them a certain amount to get the benefits specified in your coverage. If you fail to pay on time, your insurance will cancel you. But what if you have an accident and your insurance doesn’t hold up its end of the contract? When an insurance company fails to honor the provisions of its policy, then they are acting in bad faith. When this occurs, you have legal rights as a customer to fight back against their actions, but you must follow specific guidelines. If you believe your insurance company is acting in bad faith or has violated the terms of the Insurance Fair Conduct Act, contact Elsner Law Firm, PLLC for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.
What Are Some Signs That Your Insurance Company is Breaching Their Duty to You?
Every insurance company is expected to adhere to certain practices for the benefit of its policyholders. Every customer deserves to have their claim handled promptly, with clear communication, and according to the terms of their policy. Some signs that your insurance provider is engaging in bad faith insurance practices may include:
- Making threatening or intimidating statements.
- Failing to investigate an insurance claim thoroughly.
- Denying a claim without providing a legitimate justification.
- Advising policyholders not to hire an attorney.
- Knowingly undervaluing a claim.
- Delaying the claims process without cause.
- Refusing reasonable requests for documents or information.
- Pressuring a claimant to accept a low settlement offer.
- Convincing a claimant to give up their rights.
- Failing to provide proper communication about the claims process.
- Failing to notify a claimant of required additional information necessary for the claim.
- Altering the terms of the policy after a claim has been submitted.
Does Your Insurance Ever Have the Right to Deny Your Claim Completely?
It is important to remember that a denial is not always indicative of bad faith on the part of your insurer. There may be a legitimate reason behind the refusal. However, the insurance company must always provide clear documentation of the denial and its justification, along with information on how to appeal the decision if you disagree. Common legitimate reasons for denied claims include:
- The policy explicitly excludes the injury or accident involved.
- The premiums have not been paid on the policy.
- You were found to be fully liable for the accident and are ineligible for compensation.
- The individual submitting the claim is not covered by the policy.
- The coverage ended before the accident occurred.
What Compensation Can You Seek From Your Insurance Company?
If you believe your insurance company has acted in bad faith, you have the right to take legal action. Your first step should be to contact an insurance claims attorney or the Washington Office of Insurance Commissioner to discuss your issue. If you have a case, you must then file a 20-day Insurance Fair Conduct Act Notice of Potential Lawsuit. The insurance company has 20 days to respond to your complaint and resolve the dispute before you can proceed with a lawsuit.
If you do not receive a satisfactory answer and choose to file a lawsuit, you may be eligible for the following compensation:
- Original benefits: The damages you initially sought from the insurer for your claim.
- Pain and suffering: If the mishandling of your claim caused you to experience pain or emotional distress or meant that you couldn’t get proper medical care, you could be awarded compensation.
- Litigation costs: Any expenses you incurred while fighting the insurance company’s bad faith actions.
- Punitive damages: If the insurer has a history of bad faith acts or acted maliciously towards you, the court may also award punitive damages.
When Should You Hire an Insurance Claims Lawyer?
If you have expressed your concerns verbally and in writing to the insurance company and have not received a satisfactory reply, you should seek the advice of a lawyer. They can give you an honest evaluation of your case and explain the steps you need to follow to move forward. Many insurance companies do not wish to risk the expense and bad press of a trial, so they are often more willing to negotiate with policyholders who have strong legal representation on their side. To schedule a free consultation with an insurance claims lawyer, contact Elsner Law Firm, PLLC at 206-678-1427.