When tragedy strikes and you are in an accident, or your home is damaged through a natural disaster or theft, or you are injured on the job, you take comfort in knowing that you have insurance to help cover your losses. You pay your premiums as required in your insurance policy and then expect that when you file a claim, the insurance company will honor the promises they made in your policy. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. All too often, insurance companies will use unfair practices to delay, deny or undervalue your insurance claims. When an insurance company fails to fulfill the obligations set out in your insurance policy, they are said to be acting in “bad faith.”
What is Insurance Bad Faith?
The business of insurance is a multi-billion dollar industry here in the United States and insurance CEO’s are routinely multi-millionaires. Insurance is clearly a money-making business and insurance companies make their money by paying less on claims. Your insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurance company to provide insurance protection and settle claims fairly and equitably. When they won’t fulfill the obligations set out in your insurance policy or when they violate the laws of your state, they are acting in bad faith.
Bad Faith takes a variety of forms. The insurance company may misrepresent the terms of your policy, ignore or delay responding to your letters and phone calls, use unfair claims settlement practices, undervalue your claim, require unreasonable or unnecessary paperwork to fulfill your claim, fail to pay claims in a timely manner, fail to defend you against a claim, not promptly or effectively investigate a claim, or they may refuse to give you specific reasons when they deny a claim. The insurance companies know all the tricks in the book to delay, deny, or undervalue your insurance claim.
Washington Fair Conduct Act
Laws vary from state to state regarding insurance bad faith, but here in the state of Washington, insurance bad faith is outlined and prohibited by the Washington Fair Conduct Act. The act was enacted in 2007 and requires your insurance company to honor the provisions of your policy. It only applies when dealing with your own insurance company and doesn’t include disputes over health insurance, which is covered by the Patient Bill of Rights. The Fair Conduct Act covers a variety of improper insurance conduct, and prohibits all the practices outlined above that are frequently used by insurance companies to unreasonably deny or delay coverage and payment of benefits.
If you’ve been given the run around by your insurance company and feel like you’ve been dealt with improperly, you may be able to bring a bad faith claim in addition to your original insurance claim. The act covers auto, homeowner’s, life, business, and disability insurance policies. Under the Washington Fair Conduct Act, you may be entitled to additional money totaling more than your original claim, as well as attorney’s fees. Insurance bad faith also violates the state consumer protection act, which may afford you even additional protection.
Insurance Bad Faith Attorney
If you feel like you’ve been dealt with unfairly by your insurance company or that your claim has been unfairly denied, you may be wondering if you have a claim for bad faith against your insurance company. The law regarding insurance bad faith is both specialized and complex and insurance bad faith cases can be very difficult to prove and win. Additionally, the law limits the amount of time you have to pursue a claim. You need an attorney who is experienced in insurance bad faith cases and who isn’t afraid to take on the insurance companies. James Sorrels is an attorney experienced in dealing with insurance bad faith. He can help you challenge your insurance company when they refuse to honor the coverage that you rightfully paid for and deserve. If you have an insurance coverage dispute, contact attorney James Sorrels today for a free consultation.