Most people recognize the importance of obtaining insurance as a safeguard from the economic loss associated with property damage or liability claims, but policyholders also sometimes discover that their insurance company is less than cooperative when a claim is filed. In the wake of a car accident or damage to an individual’s home, the idea of fighting an insurance company is not an inviting prospect. The primary focus of a policyholder’s attention in these situations is on obtaining medical care to achieve the fullest recovery or repairing the family home.
When you are in a position to file an insurance claim, the goal is more than just having your insurer handle the claim. Policyholders need and expect their insurer to do so in an efficient and timely manner. Unfortunately, many insureds find that their insurer is slow to respond, adjust, and/or pay claims despite years of timely premium payments. Unjustified or unreasonable delays are one of the most common forms of bad faith conduct by insurance companies. These bad faith delays might include the following:
- Failure to conduct an adequate investigation;
- Not responding to telephone calls, letters, and/or emails requesting status;
- Refusing to adjust and settle claims;
- Making excessive, unnecessary, duplicative, or unwarranted requests for documents or information;
- Failing to provide a decision on whether a claim will be paid or denied; and
- Allowing an inappropriate amount of time to pass without making payment.
Insurance companies have a strong motivation to engage in tactics of delay because of their design. Carriers are essentially in the business of gambling on risks. Insurers collect premiums against a wager that a policyholder will never need to file a claim or that the amount of any claim will be less than the amount collected in premiums. This model can amount to increased profit for shareholders stemming from non-payment of claims. Ironically, this approach results to kicking the insurer’s customer while he or she is down despite the fact that the insured is the actual source of the carrier’s income.
Admittedly, there are situations where an insurance company has a legitimate reason to delay processing or paying a claim while it conducts its investigation, but many delays are merely designed to promote the insurer’s financial interests. Insurers financially benefit simply by holding onto funds that by all rights belong to an insured. While this practice might be a rational economic strategy, the unique role of insurance providers and Florida insurance regulations might make such an approach the basis for an insurance bad faith lawsuit.
Whether you are a policyholder whose insurance company refuses to provide a defense or settle for policy limits when you are at-fault in a car accident or a property with a home damaged by a severe storm, you have a right to expect your insurance carrier to fulfill its promises. My law firm represents policyholders in claims disputes in Miami and throughout Florida. The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations. No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees. Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.