Ways Your Insurance Company May Be Acting in Bad Faith | Belt, Bruner & Barnett

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Ways Your Insurance Company May Be Acting in Bad Faith

Apr 05, 2018 | Bad Faith Insurance Claims

Trying to get a settlement from an insurance company can be difficult, especially if they fail to honor their legal obligation to you. This concept is known as “acting in bad faith.”

If you suspect you are the victim of a bad faith deal, you may want to seek legal assistance. The Alabama bad faith insurance lawyers at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. can review your interaction with the insurance company and determine if you have a case. If so, we can also help you through every step of your lawsuit.

If you’re worried your insurance company has acted in bad faith, contact us today at (205) 933-1500 to schedule a free case consultation.

What Is Insurer Bad Faith?

An insurance company is legally required to treat you fairly, whether you are its direct client or a third-party making a claim against its customer’s policy. Whether you have filed a first- or third-party claim, the insurer must:

  • Properly investigate the claim
  • Correspond with you
  • Reasonably approve or deny your claim with a written explanation, and
  • If it is liable, reasonably negotiate a fair settlement

However, insurance companies are businesses that want to remain profitable. This incentive can lead them to behave unlawfully toward you. When the insurer acts in bad faith and does not uphold its duties under the policy and law, then you may have a separate cause of action against it.

Examples of Bad Faith Actions

While every case differs, certain behaviors could be considered bad faith actions. Examples of these include:

Lengthy Delays

It’s not uncommon for a few steps in the claims process to take more time than usual, so you should be prepared for a waiting period. But an unusually long wait is a red flag. So is being asked to unjustifiably provide additional documents or transferring your claim between different adjusters. If the company is taking excessively long to respond to you and is not communicating the reason for the delay, they may be acting in bad faith.

Unnecessary or Unexplained Denials

If the insurance company didn’t spend much time on their investigation (or didn’t investigate at all) and decided to deny your claim, their actions could be considered bad faith. Insurance companies have an implied duty to work with customers who have experienced a loss in order to make them whole again. If the insurer has refused to work with you and declines to explain in writing why your claim was denied, they are violating their duty.

Pressuring You to Settle Early for Less

It’s not unusual for an insurance company to try to lowball your settlement. They may pester or even try to bully you into accepting their first offer to get you to settle quickly.

If this happens, don’t worry. You can always reject their first offer and negotiate to come up with a better figure. However, a company that flatly refuses to give you the amount you expected to receive is not fulfilling its good faith covenant to give you fair and proper service.

Using Unsavory or Illegal Tactics to Try to Avoid Paying You

There are insurance companies who drag their feet because they’d rather pocket more money than they pay to you. Then there are the unscrupulous businesses that resort to tampering with evidence, withholding witnesses, or other deceitful actions to try to undermine your claim so they can pay you less or deny your claim entirely.

It’s important to note that you cannot claim an insurance company acted in bad faith if you simply don’t like their offer, or don’t like the adjuster who is working with you. The company must actually display obvious bad faith actions before you can make a case against them.

Different Types of Bad Faith Claims

If an insurer treats you unlawfully during the claims process, you may have the right to bring a legal claim against it and recover compensation. If you are a first- or third-party claimant, you may be able to seek compensation for the financial losses you incurred due to the insurer’s bad faith and punitive damages, in addition to compensation for your initial claim:

  • First-Party Bad Faith Claims – When you make a claim with your own insurance company, it’s known as a first party claim. If your adjuster is making it difficult for you to get your settlement, it’s considered a first-party bad faith claim.
  • Third-Party Bad Faith Claims – Third party claims (and third-party bad faith claims) involve a claim you made to another person’s insurance company.

Our Alabama Bad Faith Insurance Lawyers Can Help: Call Today

It’s not always easy to figure out if an insurance company is acting in bad faith. You shouldn’t be expected to know the difference. When this is the situation, the bad faith insurance lawyers of Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. can help. We can listen to your story and determine whether the company is simply sluggish, or if they are actively trying to avoid meeting their good faith requirements. We don’t think you should have to deal with an unreceptive insurance company after all you’ve been through, and we will fight to get you the settlement you deserve.

For a free evaluation of your case, contact us today at (205) 933-1500.