Most Americans carry several types of insurance policies. For example, it’s illegal to drive a vehicle without automobile insurance, and homeowners secure home insurance policies to protect their properties from natural disasters and other damage to their homes. An insurance policy is essentially a paid-for promise: you pay your premiums to the insurer. In return, the insurer promises to cover any losses stipulated by your policy.
Insurers are in the business of making money. Whenever they pay out on a claim, they lose money. Insurance claims adjusters look for anything they can find to use as justification for denying claims or only paying partial policy amounts. However, the law requires insurance companies operate in “good faith.” This means they must analyze and handle claims honestly and fairly. Unfortunately, some insurers use their position to mishandle policyholders’ claims. This is known as insurance bad faith. Our Billings insurance bad faith Attorneys at Heenan & Cook, PLLC are experienced at identifying these situations.
How to Identify Insurance Bad Faith
When a policyholder makes a claim on his or her insurance policy, the insurer will typically send a claims adjuster to investigate the claim. During the investigation process, the adjuster will look for any behavior on the policy holder’s part that would justify denying the claim. In most cases, this boils down to the semantics of the policy’s wording. If the policy doesn’t cover an accident or only covers it partially, the adjuster may try to offer only a partial claim.
In some cases, the insurer is completely justified and within the bounds of the law to deny a claim. If the policyholder violated the terms of the insurance policy in any way, this can be grounds for denying the claim. However, if the insurance claim adjuster engaged in any fraudulent activity to avoid paying a claim, he or she acted in bad faith.
A policyholder and a claims adjuster may disagree about the worth of a claim, but this does not necessarily mean the adjuster is acting in bad faith. The adjuster has the right to reduce the claim amount if he or she can provide clear justification for doing so. If the adjuster refuses to offer specific evidence as to why a claim amount was reduced, he or she is acting in bad faith.
Other ways adjusters can engage in bad faith include tampering with evidence, withholding evidence, unreasonably delaying processing a claim, or telling outright lies to claimants.
Starting a Bad Faith Lawsuit | Billings, MT
Most Americans dread dealing with insurance companies. Filing a lawsuit against an insurer can be daunting, especially since most insurance companies keep multiple experienced attorneys on retainer. If you’re considering a bad faith lawsuit against an insurer, a qualified insurance bad faith attorney will be a tremendous asset to your situation.
Once your attorney has determined you have a viable claim for insurance bad faith, the lawsuit process typically begins with sending a letter to the insurance company outlining your claim of bad faith.
These letters typically get very speedy responses. Although insurance companies try to avoid paying on claims, they will generally find paying on a questionable claim preferable to a drawn-out legal battle over a bad faith accusation. Your lawyer will help navigate your settlement discussions. If the insurer refuses to settle, your case will go to trial.
Insurance bad faith cases typically involve meticulous analysis of your policy terms, careful evaluation of all correspondence with the insurer, and documentation pertaining to your injuries or the damages in question. The lawyers of Heenan & Cook, PLLC are here to help our clients in Billings and the entire state of Montana with their insurance bad faith concerns. Contact us to schedule a consultation about your bad faith insurance case today.