Insurance companies are notorious for being difficult to deal with in many claim situations, especially for someone attempting to negotiate their own civil case. Insurance adjusters are trained professional negotiators who look for every angle to low-ball or deny a claim. While documentation is a necessary component of any insurance claim, excessive documentation requests can be a sign that the insurance company may have a company policy of denying insurance coverage even when they know as a material case fact that they are responsible to pay a claimant. That is when it is vital to hire a civil law professional like Joyner Law Firm to represent your insurance claim.
What is Insurance Bad Faith?
Bad faith is generally the intentional and malicious defrauding of an individual involving a contractual obligation. Insurance bad faith is a particular type of civil tort claim that can potentially create legal standing for a separate tort suit that can be presented before a jury for punitive damages. This potential suit is in addition to a breach of contract claim when an insurance company has negotiated in bad faith with a valid claimant.
What Constitutes Insurance Bad Faith?
There is no set list of problems when dealing with an insurance company that has exhibited bad faith. Honest mistakes are allowable, but patterns of using mistakes as a cover can be an example of bad faith company policy. The problems arise when the insurance adjuster is purposely withholding insurance coverage information when they know for a fact that the claim is valid. In addition, interfering with a claimant’s ability to file a claim is also insurance bad faith.
What are Some Examples of Bad Faith Actions?
Bad faith always includes a component of unreasonable denial of coverage, including purposely delaying payment of a claim. There are other examples of insurance company actions in an attempt to deny or short settle a claim.
Some of those examples are, but not limited to:
- Failure to provide policy coverage caps
- Refusing to negotiate with the claimant or their legal counsel
- Tampering with a witness
- Failure to reasonably investigate the claim
- Failure to reasonably explain why a claim is denied
- Purposely refusing to make a reasonable offer
- Failure to respond in a timely manner to the court
- Avoiding litigation by settling a claim quickly for an insufficient coverage amount
Understanding the Burden of Proof in a Civil Tort Lawsuit
Civil lawsuits are not held to the same standard of proof that is required in criminal cases. In a civil tort claim, the plaintiff attorney is prosecuting the case and requesting monetary damages from the negligent respondent based on a preponderance of the material case facts of evidence, which is a much lower standard than beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition, bad faith claims against insurance companies are both a breach of contract civil claim as well as a tort claim. The distinction is that a tort claim can also include a jury award of punitive damages, which can then be used as bargaining leverage for your attorney when negotiating a maximum whole settlement, including exponential punitive damages.
Filing a claim for bad faith against an insurance company is no undertaking for a claimant who is not a professional legal negotiator. In fact, it takes an attorney to file the motion in court against the bad faith company because of the complications involved with most cases and the aggressiveness of insurance companies when defending the claims. Always get an experienced civil tort attorney with a solid track record of defending all of the client’s rights to a maximum award.