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Is your insurer acting in bad faith?

Following an accident on the 405 South or the 22 Eastbound, you may experience persistent back pain, headaches and other symptoms that greatly interfere with your quality of life. To get your life back on track, you need to pay for vehicle repairs and medical care for your injuries.

Unfortunately, the person who caused the accident does not have insurance. To add insult to injury, your insurance company seems to have forgotten about your claim — or refuses to acknowledge it at all. While your insurer’s lack of action may frustrate you, it may comfort you to know that the law does afford you several protections against insurers that act in bad faith.

Bad faith occurs when an insurance company violates its duty of care

Your insurance company has a duty to thoroughly investigate, negotiate and settle your claims in good faith. Failure to do any or all of the above may constitute a breach of duty and could result in a legal claim. According to FindLaw, the basis for the legal claim, in this case, would be “bad faith.”

Examples of bad faith insurance

Though it can take many forms, bad faith insurance occurs when an insurance company engages in unfair or dishonest tactics. The presence of one or several of these tactics may give you grounds to file a bad faith claim.

  • Unreasonable delays: Per California law, insurance companies have 40 days to either accept or deny a claim. If your insurer drags out your claim longer than this without notifying you, in writing, as to the reason for the delay, it may be guilty of bad faith. Insurers purposely delay the processing of claims in hopes that claimants will stop pursuing them.
  • Deceptive practices: If your insurer fails to provide you with the paperwork necessary to complete your claim, or if it does not notify you of an upcoming deadline, it could be guilty of bad faith. The same is true if your provider fails to disclose to you applicable coverage.
  • Failure to conduct an investigation: Insurers have a duty to thoroughly and promptly investigate each claim. Failure to do so could result in a bad-faith lawsuit.
  • Misrepresenting policy language: Your provider may purposely misinterpret the law or the policy language to avoid paying you. Doing so is an act of bad faith.
  • Refusing to pay or paying too little: Your insurer has a duty to pay you a fair amount for any injuries or incidences that your policy covers. The courts may construe the failure to do either as an act of bad faith.

If you suspect your insurance company of bad faith dealings, seek legal help right away. An attorney can inform you of your rights and advise you on how to proceed.