Insurance “bad faith” in the law is when you, the first party insured, have an auto wreck (UM or uninsured/underinsured coverage), Homeowner’s policy, fire or life insurance claim, and your own insurance company does not investigate, communicate or deal with you in a timely and fair way, or denies your legitimate claim, and you suffer damages as result. Under Oklahoma law, your insurer owes you a duty to act promptly to conduct a thorough investigation of the claim, arrive at a fair evaluation and pay what owed up to the limit of your coverage. When a prompt, independent, investigation doesn’t occur an unfair evaluation is often the result and payment is not made on what is owed. This is insurance “bad faith”.
When insurance bad faith happens, it is critical that you contact an experienced local bad faith attorney quickly. Your insurance policy language and facts need to be gathered and examined in a timely way to get what is owed under the policy you paid for.
An insurance contract is an exchange of promises. You promise to pay in exchange for the insurer paying in accordance with the policy language and under the applicable law. Your insurance company is obligated to make you “whole” (up to the policy monetary limits) in accordance with the policy terms when an injury occurs. Your insurer must be prompt in all aspects of handling your claim. The law provides for some deadlines, but also allows for exceptions when the insurer legitimately needs more information. The insured party, you, is obligated to cooperate with your insurance company’s investigation. But, if there is a delay in your claim handling, that delay better be reasonable.
In evaluating your claim, your own insurer must make all claims decision based on available, relevant evidence. The adjuster cannot speculate. This should include information that supports claim payment; and, may include any information that does not support payment. Trouble arise when your insurance company ignores information that favors payment and instead focuses on that which denies payment. One example occurs when an insurance company uses biased experts (medical, fire, etc.,), instead of independent experts, to arrive at its desired result of no payment.
Your insurer must determine how much money will restore you to pre-accident condition. In order to do that the insurer has to thoroughly understand all the harms suffered by the insured person and investigate to arrive at a complete understanding. If questions exist about the insured person’s harm, then the insurance company must find the answers. This likely includes discussions with the insured, family, friends and treating medical professionals. If legitimate questions remain, the insurer may hire an independent medical, or other, specialist to help answer questions. An insurance adjuster may not speculate or guess.
Once all the evidence is gathered, the insurer must fairly evaluate the evidence by weighing all the information as per promises made in its policy and the law. For a physical injury, the insurance company should consider: age of the injured person, past physical and mental pain and suffering, physical condition before the accident, nature of the injuries, disfigurement, permanency of the injuries, reasonable expenses of the necessary past medical care, future physical and mental pain and suffering, physical and mental condition after the accident, extent of the injuries, loss of earnings and earning impairment and reasonable future medical care and cost of it.
An insurance company must treat its insured’s interests equal with its own. The claims process should not be adversarial. An insurer must advise its insured of her/her benefits or coverage applicable, or might be applicable, to the claim. An insurer must assist its insured with the claim and not place unreasonable impediments in the path of the insured person getting that which he/she is entitled to. Your insurance company must hire, train and supervise qualified personnel to handle its claims. The insurance company must accomplish a proactive investigation and make a prompt decision and payment if its due. An insurer must communicate to the insured person, give his/her interests equal weight to its own and not speculate on the claim. Your insurance company may not rely on the liability insurer’s evaluation and decisions in regard to your first party claim.
Some insurance companies ignore their own policy language and deny legitimate claims hoping you will just go away. Sometimes insurers will purposely delay payment on a legitimate claim by requesting unnecessary and burdensome information. The bottom line is that your insurer must promptly pay what it promised it would pay in its policy language and under the law.
You bought and paid for your home, fire, auto or life policy so it’s there when you need it. When your insurance company treats you unfairly you need a nearby bad faith lawyer who has the experience to help you. Tim has over 34 years of experience making insurance companies pay legitimate claims. He can recover what is owed under your policy, plus damages for money losses suffered as a result of the bad faith, emotional distress, and punitive damages to set an example for other insurers.
Tim has successfully helped people when their own insurance companies won’t and won millions of dollars for his clients in settlements, court and mediation.
Free consultation, no fee if no recovery.
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