Every state defines bad-faith insurance differently. Generally speaking, bad faith is an insurance company failing to process a claim fairly, honestly and in a good-faith attempt to resolve the issue. If you believe you are dealing with insurance bad faith during a claim for an injury or property damage, find out if you have the elements to file a bad-faith insurance claim. If so, a Tampa insurance dispute lawyer can help.
The Insurer Did Not Act Within the Insured’s Interests
Insurance companies have a legal obligation to act within an insured person’s interests. While this does not mean an insurance company has to accept every claim, it does mean it has a responsibility to handle and process claims in accordance with state laws. If an insurance company improperly handles a claim, such as by unnecessarily delaying the investigation or misrepresenting the terms of a policy, it is called insurance bad faith.
There are many examples of insurance bad faith, including:
- Making a material misrepresentation of fact.
- Resolving a claim while knowing it has been altered without the client’s knowledge.
- Wrongfully denying a claim without a valid reason.
- Denying a claim without a proper investigation.
- Failing to properly communicate with the client.
- Failing to notify the client that more information is needed.
- Wrongfully delaying the payment of a claim.
To have grounds for a bad-faith insurance lawsuit, you or your attorney will need proof that the insurance company acted in a way that a reasonable and prudent insurance provider would not have in the same circumstances. The insurer must be guilty of mishandling your claim or acting in a way that was unreasonable based on the situation, such as withholding benefits without a valid reason. Acting outside of your interests is a red flag for insurance bad faith.
The Insurer Negligently Failed to Settle the Claim Within Policy Limits
Florida law also specifies that an insurance company must settle a Florida insurance claim within the limits, terms and provisions of the insurance policy. It is bad faith if an insurance company negligently or intentionally fails to settle a claim within the policy limits if – under the circumstances – it should have done so had it been acting fairly and honestly toward the policyholder.
Some insurance companies intentionally misinterpret the terms of a policy to save money by avoiding a large payout. Others may negligently fail to apply the correct limits of a policy through the careless mishandling of a claim. Either way, the insurance company may be guilty of bad faith, allowing the client to file a bad-faith insurance claim in pursuit of damages from the insurer.
The Insured Suffered Compensable Damages Due to Insurance Bad Faith
Another element that must be proven during an insurance bad faith claim in Florida is damages. As the plaintiff, you must have proof of compensable losses – known as damages in personal injury law – connected to the insurance company’s bad faith. Damages may include additional expenses, lost wages and emotional distress. In a successful insurance bad-faith claim, the insurer will have to pay financial compensation for the damages it gave you in addition to fair insurance benefits for your original claim.
Ready to File a Bad-Faith Insurance Claim in Florida?
If you believe you have all of the elements of a bad-faith insurance claim in Florida, consult with an attorney who can represent you. Under Florida law, a plaintiff who suspects insurance bad faith must submit a written notice to the insurance company describing the alleged violation. Then, the insurer has 60 days to pay the damages or correct the issue.
Once the 60-day period expires, you will have grounds to file a bad-faith insurance lawsuit against the insurer if it does not remedy the problem. An insurance lawyer in Tampa, Florida can help you with every aspect of your claim, from filing legal paperwork to proving your case. Contact an attorney from Williams Law, P.A. today for more information about insurance bad faith.
Has Your Home Insurance Company Denied Or Undervalued Your Property Damage Claim In Florida?
If your insurance company is dragging their feet regarding your property damage claim you should speak with an experienced insurance claim lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Tampa, Florida law office directly at 800.451.6786 to schedule your free consultation. We help Florida residents just like you fight the big insurance companies who fail to abide by their own policies. Remember, we work on a contingent basis, meaning you don't pay us anything until we win your case.