In 2013, a California court ruled that insurers could be found to be acting in bad faith against their clients, even after they provided counsel for them and paid settlement funds to them. In California, insurance companies are subject to heavy state regulation designed to prevent insurer bad faith. Despite this, insurance company bad faith is prevalent.
Your insurer acts in bad faith when it:
- Does not pay, communicate or process your claim in a timely manner
- Does not provide you with a lawyer
- Refuses to pay you a fair amount
Your insurer is obligated to provide you pay your claimed damages when you are entitled to it under your policy ― not look for ways to deny your claim in an adversarial manner. You may miss court-filing deadlines due to insurer foot-dragging during the claims process, which may unfairly enable the insurer to further resist paying your claim.
Below are some tips on how to fight an insurance company that acts in bad faith:
- Claim but do not necessarily settle now. You have a limited time to settle your claim or file suit. However, be suspicious of hasty settlement offers. The insurer may be settling for cheap, especially if you do not yet know the full extent of your injuries.
- Hire a lawyer who knows their game. Claims adjusters are trained negotiators who use many ploys. For example, they may call you at 7:00 am when you are still groggy, or, before Christmas time when you need extra money for gifts. Lawyers understand the insurer tactics and will be less likely to be taken advantage of.
- Do not let your guard down. Adjusters sometimes record your conversations, and these can be used to fight your damage claim, especially when you concede your faults. Note that your insurer may have opposing interests from you. Do not provide an authorization to your medical records, they may use them to assign responsibility of your injury to non-accident factors, to reduce their payout. Do not believe everything they tell you.
- In general, review your policy carefully. Sit down with your lawyer to verify their statements and see what you are entitled to receive.
- Be prepared to fight. You may have to appeal several denials before you get the result you deserve.
Increase your chance of receiving fair and timely compensation for your injuries in an accident by hiring a firm that knows how to talk to California insurance companies that act in bad faith. Contact Steven P. Roberts, Personal Injury Attorney to learn more.