Insurance companies are obliged to act in good faith, which fundamentally means they’re required to assess, negotiate, and settle insurance claims fairly and promptly. However, “bad faith” refers to an insurer’s practice of not treating a policyholder’s claim honestly or competently.
They may use a variety of methods or tactics that fall under this umbrella. Some of the most common examples include the following:
One common method includes delaying payment unnecessarily to try to make the process so frustrating that you give up in pursuing benefits that are rightfully yours. Claims adjusters also know how difficult it can be to deal with medical expenses and other damages after an accident, so they often bet on the fact that a victim will be so desperate that this frustration will cause them to agree to the first settlement offered.
Deny Coverage Without Due Diligence
Insurance companies are obligated under law to thoroughly investigate any claims made on their policies, this is referred to as due diligence. If they dismiss your claim without taking enough time to rigorously investigate and inquire into the matter to discern its validity, this could be an act of bad faith.
No Clear Reason for Denial
If an insurer denies a claim without providing clear and valid reasons, this is usually considered a red flag pointing to potential bad-faith negotiations.
Sudden Change in Adjusters
A sudden switch in adjusters during your negotiation process may suggest questionable practices are taking place. This tactic often serves to delay proceedings by introducing a new person who has to restart the assessment and get brought up to speed.
Withholding Relevant Information
If an insurer fails to provide you with all the relevant information tied to your claim or policy, there may be bad faith. This could involve not disclosing specific exclusions and limitations or just overall making it harder for you to understand your policy and coverage.
Unrealistic Documentation Requests
This happens when insurers demand excessive paperwork or information that isn’t reasonably necessary for the claims to proceed. They might ask you repeatedly for the same records you’ve already provided or continue to insist on documents that don’t exist.
What To Do If Insurance Is Engaging in Bad Faith Practices
If you find yourself in this situation and haven’t been able to resolve it, you may have to take further action. Here’s what you should do:
Document All Communication with the Insurance Company
Keeping track of all communication with an insurance company is crucial in identifying and proving bad faith practices. Create a physical or digital journal of all interactions about the claim, including meeting dates, phone calls, and email exchanges. It’s also crucial to document any instances of suspicious activity that could indicate bad faith.
Request Written Correspondence at All Times
Asking for written correspondence whenever possible is an essential step in protecting yourself from bad faith insurance practices. This will ensure that all decisions, offers, and explanations are provided in writing, which will be crucial evidence in case of disputes or wrongful conduct.
Find a Lawyer
Fighting against such deceitful practices can be challenging, especially when you’re healing from an injury. This is where a Fresno personal injury lawyer with expertise in bad-faith insurance law can help. These legal experts know the ins and outs of relevant regulations and can help you assert your rights against insurance companies that refuse to play fair.
Knowing your rights as a claimant can help you identify potential bad faith practices early on. If you need help or have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a free consultation.